University of the Fraser Valley

UFV Top 40 alumni: Debbie Greene — resilience personified

UFV Top 40 alumni: Debbie Greene — resilience personified


Much has been written about Captain Trevor Greene’s experience and his long journey back from his comatose state after an Afghani youth buried an ax in his head. He has made a remarkable recovery to a state where he is conscious and aware, lives at home with Debbie and their two children, and works daily on continued physical rehabilitation as well as advocating for the environment.
But it’s very clear that what happened to Trevor happened to Debbie too. While some might have left their partner or given up when told by doctors that Trevor wouldn’t wake up from a coma, she persevered to an almost superhuman degree.Greene, who was among the first graduates of UFV’s Bachelor of Business Administration degree program in 1995, was thrust overnight into the role of caregiver, patient advocate, brain injury expert, and Trevor’s biggest supporter.
For the bravery, perseverance, advocacy, resilience and human compassion she has demonstrated throughout their ordeal, Greene has been recognized as one of UFV’s Top 40 alumni.
She supported Trevor through his time at a German military hospital and an extended stay at Vancouver General Hospital, several brain surgeries, the depression and anger associated with brain injury, a ‘warehousing’ period when he was in a residential care home, and  his stay at a physical rehabilitation facility in Ponoka, Alberta, where some real progress was made.
When faced with the unfathomable, that Trevor might be a barely responsive, comatose, severely brain damaged shell of his former self forever, she reached deep inside herself and fought back against this scenario.
Debbie and Trevor had to learn and accept that progress was going to be slow and unpredictable, and walking on his own was not going to be an easily achieved goal.“We had to learn to redefine success,” Debbie says. “We now know you can’t set goals with timelines.With a brain injury, there is no typical timeframe.”Debbie and Trevor now live in Nanaimo, and work daily on his rehabilitation. They wrote a book, March Forth, about their experience.They also participated in a long-term study of Trevor’s brain. That study was highlighted in Maclean’s magazine and will soon be published in medical journals.“We want to help contribute to modern medicine, and to see what happens if we put a lot of work into rehabilitation, whether it will continue to change. Each quarter we would see the changes in Trev’s brain through different brain maps. Apparently Trevor now has the most thoroughly mapped brain in the world.”

If one word can sum up Debbie’s experience of the past nine years, it’s resilience.

“You don’t realize how much resilience you have until you have to draw upon it,” she says. “So many people say they couldn’t have done what I did. It really was a fight or flight reaction, and I chose to fight. I’m glad that I did.”

 The UFV Top 40

 In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the University of the Fraser Valley and the UFV Alumni Association  chose UFV’s Top 40 Alumni.

It wasn’t easy to select only 40 outstanding alumni. UFV has welcomed many students into its classrooms and labs over the past 40 years. Thousands of them have graduated and become alumni of the university.

“The UFV Top 40 Alumni exemplify a range of exceptional qualities, from career excellence and leadership to acts of selflessness, courage, creativity, and innovation. We congratulate all of them on their achievements,” said UFV Alumni Association chair Justin P. Goodrich (BA ’12).

The list includes alumni who attended in the early days of Fraser Valley College in the 1970s, those who helped plan and shape the new degree programs during the university-college phase, and recent graduates.

“When I look at this list, I am truly impressed by breadth, depth, and variety to be found in our alumni ranks,” noted Nancy Armitage, Manager of Alumni Engagement. “And it really illustrates the impact that UFV alumni are having in our communities and around the world.”

More than 260 nominations were received for the Top 40 Alumni after a community-wide appeal. Representatives from the UFV Alumni Association and the university then selected the Top 40 based on a set of criteria that included community contributions, commitment to others, career/professional excellence, leadership, creativity/innovation, and acting with selflessness or courage.

See the whole list here.