Amanda Keller’s shattering personal news about husband Harley Oliver

Amanda Keller has gone public with heartbreaking news about her longtime husband, Harley, who has been privately battling Parkinson’s disease for years.

The Australian radio and TV personality, 61, revealing his shock diagnosis on Thursday’s episode of her new Double A Chattery podcast.

Keller, who has been married to Oliver since 1989, said he was diagnosed with the disease six years ago, with the couple deciding to open up about their struggle for the first time.

“I first noticed Harley’s footfall around the house changing, like he was dragging his leg, and his hands started to shake, and he said he’d just been whacked in the thumbs as a wicket keeper playing cricket, but I felt something was going on,” Keller told her podcast co-host, forensic psychologist Anita McGregor.

“I know Harley so well, and how protective he is of his inner core, he was absolutely scared and in denial, and who would blame him.”

Shortly after they noticed something wasn’t right, Oliver received news the couple had feared – he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s – an incurable brain disorder that causes uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination, with symptoms gradually worsening over time.

“When he came home [from the doctor], we both just sat there completely numb,” Keller remembered.

“Two days later, I went with our eldest son Liam to an open day – he was in Year 11 – and I fought tears all day just looking at these people at the beginning of their journey, and I was so envious.

“I had such a flashback to when that was me. And I thought, ‘Their journey is just starting.’ And something closed off for me.

“I don’t necessarily feel that now, but this is how I felt in the early days.”

Keller went on to say her knee-jerk reaction was to be “cross” with her husband, in which she’d attempt to correct his posture and speech.

“All the things that it [Parkinson’s] does [to you], I thought, ‘why isn’t he fighting it?’ And of course I’ve come to see he can’t control this, and neither can I, and that’s been a big lesson for me. So I’ve become kinder, and sadder,” she said.

“[I’ve changed] trying not to feel like I have to control it. Because it’ll kill me. And he doesn’t want that.”

The WSFM co-host said she “hates herself” sometimes for getting frustrated at their situation, which she puts down to mourning simpler times.

“I miss the ease of life. Of going to a restaurant, [but then] Harley’s back gets sore, and he’s quietly spoken so the noise overwhelms him. I miss the ease of travel. It changes us,” she said.

“But we’re not alone in that. Life is this stuff, isn’t it? We talk a lot about long-term relationships, and how popular culture celebrates the beginning and the end.

“But the meat of life, the joy of life, the sadness of life, the true human condition, lies in the middle,” Keller added, her voice breaking.

The mother-of-two explained why, as a self-confessed “over sharer”, she had been keeping the news secret over the past few years.

“I still don’t know what to say … It’s hard when people ask, ‘What’s going on with Harley?’,” she said. “People are shocked at the changes, and I can’t make that better for anybody.

“It’s not a surprise to me, but I still don’t know what to say.”

Oliver featured on the podcast later in the episode, revealing the recent death of his mother made him more comfortable about going public with his diagnosis.

“She wouldn’t have dealt very well with the idea I had Parkinson’s, she knows, living in a retirement village, what that means. I wanted to keep it away from her.

“[When she died] – that that pressure of trying to pretend I was really well, was gone.

“It was better for her, not having to worry about me as much as herself.”

Despite the difficulties they’ve faced, Keller said the experience had only brought their tight-knit family even closer.

The former Living Room host, along with the couple’s two sons Liam and Jack, have become “fiercely defensive” of Oliver, citing a confronting encounter they had with a waiter at a restaurant recently.

“I was with Jack, and this waiter was talking to us and he said, ‘You were here with an old man a few weeks ago, and he looked really ill’,” Keller said.

“It shocked us, that this rich man we know, and this rich love we have for this man … Was seen from the outside to look like that.

“We said [to each other], ‘Let’s talk about how amazing dad is, that this guy [waiter] just doesn’t know about.’

“I say to Harley, ‘We can’t choose our dismount, but I still choose you.’ That guy in the restaurant sees this guy prematurely aged and not looking healthy, but the richness of the journey that brings us here is a fabulous journey, and there’s still more to come.”

The family recently bought a holiday house on the NSW South Coast, having sidelined any future plans in a bid to savour the moments they have.

“I’ve had to work out how I feel about the future, and I’ve given up. Not in a bad way, but I can’t afford to think what will happen in 5 or 10 years time,” Keller said.

“I just can’t think about that.”

Toward the end of the podcast, Keller and her husband shared heart-melting words with one another.

“I love you Harley,” Keller said. An emotional Oliver followed suit, “I love you too. You’re terrific with all of this.”

He added, “Somebody early on said the one thing that’ll keep you out of a rest home is the relationship you have with your partner, and it’s so true. I’m very grateful that we have that strength.”

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