Raising Hope for Emma Lee Stewart

The Reason For Hope Compilation CD's can be ordered via email to TheReasonForHopeCD@Gmail.com payment can be made via Interact Email Money Transfer. Mail orders with payment by cash or cheque can be made to :
The Reason For Hope
170 Temperance Street New Glasgow, NS B2H3B1 ($20.00 Includes shipping)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wasn't That A Party!

Well, I'm finally home, after 6 hours. Almost didn't get to have chemo today.

My port has to go. I will be getting it removed and a new one in before my next treatment on the 18th of February. The new one will be on my mastectomy side. Whatever. I need it. My old port did me for 9 chemos and 2 CT scans.

I had my treatment by peripheral line in my left hand. Amanda had no trouble finding a good vein. Amazing. When I checked in this morning she noticed right away a problem with my port. I was sent to x-ray where it was confirmed that my body has clothed my port with a fibrous membrane.

So, I'm home, chemo has been administered and I'm exhausted. Will be sleeping and resting now while the chemo gets to work.

Tumour markers were up, not down. Lots to think about.


Emma Lee

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This Snow

This snow is wonderful. What a great gift. I really, really like it. For best rewards, you should get out early, before the rest. The snow is like a wonderful white carpet, full of lots of surprises. It is best if you can get to a big yard, that no one has discovered yet, and jump in - with enthusiasm of course. Bury your nose and take a deep breath! Then snort. Wow. What treasures. Hint: use your nose to push the snow along to make actual snow balls. It is an amazing trick. Running around in no particular direction is also wonderful, and you will be surprised: just trust the power of your tail to help decide which way to run. Weather like this makes your tail wag with delight! Why oh why do we have to go in on a morning like this?

(P.S. I am going to ask my mom to take a snowy picture and will upload it soon, once I figure out how to talk to her.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Twas In The Bleak Mid-Winter That Porridge Tastes So Good.

Is it mid-winter yet? It's cold. Too cold for dogs even. Honey and I have been challenged to get into nature over the past few days. This morning was warmer though and so we went a bit further afield, but then headed home. Using the front door as the driveway could be a luge course. So front door it is. Honey likes the front hall because she is rarely allowed there. She and Puff even came face to face. It is only a matter of time before Puff realizes she is bigger than Honey!

This past Sunday in Church was a wonderful experience. I couldn't be happier with how it all went, we had so much fun. What a blessing to praise God through music.

This morning I am going to give to myself. I was so busy yesterday I was exhausted by the time the evening came. I was able to meet up with Donna again and work on our project together: 4 pieces of music, very different styles, but all requiring detailed discipline. It is my intention to perform some of these within the next few months. My December was so awful I wasn't able to work at all with Donna, so I am pleased to get back at these again. And I met with Lloyd in the afternoon and gave him my contribution of a song that I penned. The thing is, I haven't written a "song" per se for sometime, despite the lyrics I have been writing to the Concone vocal exercises I do with Donna, so it was really fun! I'm so thankful Lloyd asked me to try that. Yesterday I also connected with a fellow from VoicePrint in Halifax who is looking for volunteers to read news stories for the millions of folks in Canada who are visually challenged. I've got the application and am going to look into it. You know, I did volunteer at the local station, not two blocks away, but they don't need me. As a child I used to play with a tape recorder, making up and recording stories (most ghost stories with sound effects, but other stories as well), and I had a blast! That activity passed many an hour. So, if I pass the audition . . .

I was reminded this morning of getting up early with my Dad. For some reason, he has been on my mind lately. In many winter months, he and I would rise before the rest of the family and make the porridge. I loved those times. Getting up in the cold house, enjoying it warm-up, sharing delicious porridge with whole milk and brown sugar. Dad would turn the radio on (that same station!) and we would sing along to the songs that we knew. It was probably this time of year. Maybe that's the connection that's pulling me. Honey doesn't like the Red River porridge that I now make and enjoy with skim milk and stevia.

Anyway, lunch with the Mac gang today. Then rest. Then choir tonight. Music to soothe my soul. I'll be receiving my 10th abraxane on Friday, if bloodwork is fine. Which it will be. I know it.

Peace to you all today. Be careful on the roads and sidewalks. Apparently there is another storm system coming - snow.

Emma Lee

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I've Been Busy

I've had an interesting few days since last entry. Creative projects and angels keep coming my way! I had a great visit with the gang at Mac, Mac & Mac and I see a lunch on the horizon next week. Shaun and Karen and I had a couple of great rehearsals and I'm getting ready to get to the Church for this morning's gathering with Next Of Kin and Jakki. I am praying that the light in our music will shine tomorrow. Doris was here Thursday and her song is finished and it's fabulous. Lloyd was in touch and peaked my interest on another little project. I've been busy.

I also reconnected with Jenn from the Canadian Breast Cancer Network. We met at a Breast Cancer Network of Nova Scotia meeting in December of 09. We were up to our ears in the adolescent breast health initiative, which it is hoped will be rolled out in 5 more school districts this educational year. Back in December, we shared a great meal together, and the time was right so I shared a song with the group. Well, that meant I got to sing again the next day, before we parted ways. Anyway, it was great to reconnect with Jenn because she administered a webcast for CBCF on Thursday night entitled Metastatic Breast Cancer Redefining Hope. Anything concerning hope has my attention. It featured Dr. Christine Brezden-Masley, Staff Medical Oncologist, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto. At first glance, it appears they are doing a lot of metastatic research there. The webcast is available until April 21st, 2011. You may be able to google it and watch it yourselves.

In addition, today's Chronicle Herald has an article called Living Scan to Scan. I really like this quote: "For many, the pink-ribbon race is years long. . . . All too often, when people think about breast cancer, they think about it as a problem, it's solved, and you lead a long an normal life; it's a blip on the curve. While that's true for many people, each year approximately 40,000 people die of breast cancer - and they all die of metastatic disease. You can see why patients with metastatic disease may feel invisible within the advocacy community. . . Cancer doesn't care if you're courageous. It's an injustice to all of us who have this. There are women who are no less strong and no less determined to be here, and they'll be dead in two years".

I get this. The tempo of my cancer is fast. My breast cancer, at original diagnosis was graded as the most aggressive. My mind is in an ongoing debate! I am dissecting survivor status and my life. People tell me how great I look. I invite them to walk in my shoes for 10 minutes. It's fairly terrifying.

Okay, I've given enough to that for now. I will address it later - off to enjoy some music for a while!!

Watch out for the ice today!

Peace, Emma Lee

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another Thought

I was thinking about one of my blessings; about something that has been keeping me happy recently. That is my son, Lee. He has been so faithful in calling me and checking in so often. He's doing well in his life. Lee is a kind person. He has attracted a very kind person into his life and I am happy for him.

I am indeed blessed.

One Year Ago

I just remembered how I was feeling one year ago. I described it as "I was feeling like I was 102". Despite going to the gym and healthy eating, I was feeling bad. I saw my family doctor in December and he ordered bloodwork. He called me one Friday early in January to ask me to come in that next Monday. I was alarmed. I sat with him that Monday and he told me that my vitamin D was non-existent. I complained to him again about the pain in my side. He told me to take a vitamin D supplement, and I'm repeating myself, he told me that he saw hundreds of people each week with pain in their side. I urged him to get me in for a colonoscopy, as I had noted changes. Luckily, that put me in the radar of Dr. Cole. It was Dr. Cole, my surgeon from 2007, that did the colonoscopy and when that was clear, ordered the ultrasound which occurred in April. Results were given to me on May 17th. That family doctor soon after January handed in his notice to our community that he was moving on. I was left without a family doctor. Thank God for Dr. Cole.

Be your own advocate.

Emma Lee

January Weather & Projects Underway

I've been battling a below the surface headache since Sunday morning, and I'm beginning to think it might be connected to this crazy weather we're having (or the crows!). At least today the temperature is warmer than the past couple of mornings. Honey's fur is getting quite thick as she challenges herself to be a big dog and get out there for walks on these very cold and snowy days. This morning's walk was shorter - I don't like the rain, particularly when it's on the edge of ice pellets. So back home to our cozy little house and breakfast 1, 2 and 3.

I've got a couple of really nice projects on the go and they are brightening my spirit. Monday I tried to do a good cleaning of downstairs and I re-set my "hope" table. I've eliminated all but white candles and have placed 5 of my favourite angels on that table. I'm getting quite a collection of angels. I picked up a small pot of white polyanthus mix, which seems to like it there among the candles, at least for the next few days, before I move it to a brighter spot. Last fall, Shaun gave me a beautiful set of candle holders that spell out "hope" and I have that there. Janet gave me a wooden "hope" globe which sits in a wooden cradle and that is there. Finally, my Bible, my diary and a book I borrowed from Rev. Jim complete the table. It's a great place to read and write. This morning I meditated there. It did me a world of good. I was feeling tired. I needed to be reminded that life is good.

The Reason for Hope CD project is gaining momentum. Doris will be recording on Friday at Codapop in Halifax. Amos the Transparent are/is (?) in the midst of recording their contribution right now, at a studio close to you - somewhere in Toronto, and soon the mastering process will be started. Mary's magic will work to have it all completed. She has a vested interest. We've talked about genetic testing, but more talk and thought is needed. Would I have wanted to know this when I was 24? We haven't decided on a release date yet, and we have to find the right research vehicle to receive the funds generated.

Sunday's service preparations are just about complete. We'll have a rehearsal on Saturday and then worship together on Sunday. I'm really looking forward to sharing with Karen and Shaun and Jakki and Next Of Kin.

I pray you feel safe and loved today.

Peace, Emma Lee

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Crows!

Yesterday morning, a murder (or 5000 murders) of crows had moved into a neighbourhood closer to our downtown. It was eerie to stand outside and listen to their calls. Yesterday afternoon those thousands of crows decided to move uptown - specifically into our back yard. They came for hours. All of the trees in our "back 40" I like to call it - lol - were black with crows. Jim had a show in Westville and when he left, the air was rank with crows. I was hoping to watch Saturday Night Live with Jim, so I stayed downstairs with Honey, awaiting the end of his show and his return. I kept my eye on the back yard, as did two old cats I found sitting under the shelter of our back stoop. The birds just kept coming. There was a wall of crows. There was a wall of wings and a wall of sound. Honey had a distressing evening. She was on high alert. Growling, running to the back door, running back into the living room. I really had to work to settle her down - heating pad nestled in her favorite blanket - finally she settled for a bit. Then Jim arrived home and took her out to see the spectacle. She barked. The noise was absolutely deafening. The crows alighted en mass. What a sight! Jim ran Honey around the block and I stood under the cat's stoop. What a sight! What a smell. The wing sound itself was incredible. The crows were moving the air around me. I have never smelled crow before.

Morning walk saw me leave the house by the front door. There are still crows in our backyard, the Spears' yard, the Morgan's yard, in the trees at Laurie Peace Park, which is a 3 minute walk away, Judge Macdonald's trees, in the trees at the Sutherland's old place, in the trees at First Presbyterian Church - including their roof. There are crows still coming. Through the snow fog you can see them flying from across the River. And there is a line of crows flying away from us to the north east. There are crows everywhere.

Our car is covered with crow poo. Our back yard is covered with crow poo.

Today will be another interesting and adventurous day. A call to Natural Resources perhaps?

Off to ready for Church.

Peace, Emma Lee

Friday, January 14, 2011

I'M A "G"

I am feeling so much better. The neuropathy is so much less than it had been. Hallelujah. I am so happy.

The past few days have been very interesting from a number of standpoints, but one theme has presented itself. I have been touched/contacted by 5 different religious/spiritual people.

Friends who love me have been in touch, offering support and help. My heart is quite full right now. I have mentioned before that some of my friends have arranged for complete strangers - their friends - to join my Odyssey of hope. Those folks, who have never laid eyes on me or spoken with me, have asked for an image in which to hold me. I have mentioned before that I decided on a brilliantly shining treble clef. Last night I was describing my treble clef to a very musical friend. Oh my goodness what a discovery. The tip of my treble clef is planted in the metastasis in my body. That tip in musical practice is the note G on the treble clef line. You might not find this so amazing, but I do. I AM A "G". I feel like the fellow who did the commercial I Am Canadian. I AM A "G". I AM A "G".

So, if you feel the need or find the time or give the gift of time to yourself to pray for a moment, (selfishly I ask) would you think of me, a brilliantly shining treble clef, a G, free of cancer and happy? Can you do that for me?

Peace today,

Emma Lee

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Mind Is Swimming Today

My mind is swimming today. My body feels like a pin cushion/punching bag. I awoke very, very early. Pain throbbing in my feet woke me. And then my left eye, which no longer has eye lashes (they don't cover that part in the look good feel better program - was thinking about fake eyelashes - NOT) had a tickle in it. It was weird. It itched and disappeared at regular intervals - it had a tempo. So did my pain, which continued throbbing around my body, and I lay there, in the dark and listened to the snow plow moving snow downtown. It was a quiet night outside, so noise really traveled. Many times I hear the train make its way through town, and for some reason, I like that. It reminds me of the sound of dreams and hopes as it speeds along the track to the next time, the next place, the next hope. The snow plow, well, didn't really satisfy me much, but the back-up beep took my mind off the tempo of the pain having its way with me. I considered a sleeping pill and then reconsidered. I considered getting up for a pain killer and then reconsidered. I must keep something close at hand, along with my Snoopy water bottle, so that I don't have to come downstairs and potentially wake Honey, secure in her kennel.

Our walk was okay this morning. I was in a daze - I think I fell back to sleep around 5 or so and then heard her whimpering at 6:17. It takes a good 5 minutes to get dressed for the outdoors, but it is worth every second of that time. The sidewalk snow plow was obviously also busy, because neat rows of snow are piled up at the sides of our sidewalks and it made for a nice walk for Honey and I, although she almost had to stand on her head to find a place to pee. She looks hilarious. I am careful not to laugh out loud, so chuckle inside. When all was done, the "home" command was given and I think she was happy to trot back to her breakfast and ensuing fights with Boobadee. Boobadee is losing it. She even started playing with Honey's pink tennis ball last night. We found that on a walk pre-Christmas and pre-snow. I actually didn't notice until last night that the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation has its name etched on the ball. Wow. Wonder what kind of an impact that is making. How much of that sale is going to administration costs - how much is going to metastatic breast cancer research. I would be really, really, really interested in knowing that. Okay - I think you get my drift.

I am trying hard to find things that make me laugh. One of the shows that I have found is He Said She Said, a cooking show on Viva. I watch the episode that is on at 2:30 p.m. We have basic cable and Viva can be found on channel 56. I almost fell on the floor laughing yesterday. One of the hosts is so cruel to the other. It is hilarious. It's a television show.

My mind continues to swim. I am going to meditate to try and find some peace. I hope you find some peace today. Be happy and love yourself. Those who love themselves are deeply blessed. Self-love, I am learning, is the foundation for everything else.

Emma Lee

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Indeed It Was a Beaut of a Day!

My goodness - several walks later, I'm tired, but I have to admit it was a one of a kind winter day. The last walk was downright gorgeous. I even took my gloves off and loosened my scarf. Wow. Thank you for that. And, by the way, the air was crystal clean! On each walk I noticed it. Now that Maritime Steel is asleep, it has made quite a difference in this little town. I took the time at each walk to stop and breathe very deeply. It felt great.

I was attempting to complete the "easy" yoga portion of Dr. Rutledge's DVD this morning, and Honey decided to help me. I have not laughed like that for so long. For regular visitors to our home, they will tell you that Honey has this thing about sniffing your face and ears. I can't explain it. Anyway, as I was on the floor, she decided to wake up and come and give me a hand by tickling my face. I absolutely broke up and the more I laughed the more fun she seemed to have too. That was the beginning of a laughing festival that was absolutely delicious! That laughing kept going and many times today I have actually laughed out loud! I love it! Now I'm going to find a funny tv show - hmm - might prove difficult, but I feel the need to have a great belly laugh before I head up the stairs to sleep. Lee left me a DVD of Seinfeld and say what you want, there is a laugh or two in that! A good 8 hours tonight I hope. I'm so ready for tomorrow.

Peace tonight - may your angels watch over you and protect you! I see mine posted at the four corners of my home.

So, all in all, indeed it was a beaut of a day!

Emma Lee

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Two Days Before 9th Treatment

This morning's walk was slow. It is cold. The thought did cross my mind - why are we living here? It's cold! It's really cold. And it's icy. Then I looked up. The sky was gorgeous this morning - the stars are so vibrant in the cold - I knew I would later see that forget-me-not sky that I love, and that the sun would be shining once it rose. Chimnies along the route had white whiffs gently floating up as the wind was being kind to me and my face. This is an older part of town, and many of the houses are old - I love the varied roof outlines. Just as I was starting to enjoy it, I noted that Honey had stopped. She was standing in one of our neighbour's snow banks - with one front paw and one back paw raised, visibly shaking, ears back, pathetic looking. We had a good visit, Mom issuing words of comfort and lots of warm cuddles. Her paws do not like salt. The snow eased her pain and off again we went, this time with the word "home" being issued. She knows the way.

I'm gearing up for my next treatment on Friday. This will make 9 abraxane. I had thought that I would be seeing the oncologist next Monday; however, I have not heard from the Hospital to arrange a time. I will check on Friday. I had a very good day yesterday. Today, I am exhausted and aching all over. I fell on Monday afternoon, on my own front steps. Two cars hurried by. I am certain I had witnesses to my fall; however, the drivers were obviously very busy. Somehow I managed to get back into the house. Thank goodness I didn't have Honey with me. I was clearing the snow away from the front steps for the paper person who normally arrives around 4:30 am with the Chronicle Herald. I wanted to make sure there was a clear path. So, perhaps my body is simply now reacting to that fall.

I had great plans to get lots done today; well, we'll see. I am enjoying my hot water and lemon right now and will probably put on Dr. Rutledge's DVD - I can choose between a meditation session, a yoga session and/or a Qigong session. All of the sessions are manageable timewise. I might have a nap first.

I'm keeping the house at around the 68 degree mark. I have electric heaters in all of my main rooms, and I can pump the heat up if I want it. I also have 3 fav quilts/blankets and of course, who could forget the best little furnace, Honey. In fact yesterday Boobadee jumped up on my lap for a cuddle. Couldn't believe it. Honey allowed it!

Okay - sun is shining - rest up and get out and enjoy it. We need our Vit D!

Peace, Emma Lee

P.S. Apologies for grammatical errors!

My Daughter Would Make A Really Good Wife! (Hey Sidney C.!)


Copy and paste -it's my daughter! My one and only!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

If I'm Repeating Myself, I'm Sorry

Back in late June, after we had returned from England/Scotland and reality was setting in, I ran into a friend at the grocery store. When I turned the corner into that aisle, I thought it looked like her impeccable hair style from the back. Funny thing was she was standing so still, gazing into the myriad of spices filed in alphabetical order, but not moving, not stirring at all. I had to pass her and actually turn around and almost, in her face, speak to her. It was as if I woke her from sleep. To me, she did not look well, and had no voice whatsoever to speak of, explaining that she had a cold. But she was dressed in her usual perfect fashion, make-up just so and hair lovely. She went on to transform into her magical self, and of course deflected all discussion around to me, our trip, my health, etc. I had several telephone conversations with her as the fall came around as we talked about the Tearmann Art Auction, and what my role could potentially be into the next year. In our last discussion, she asked me if I would chair it, indicating she hadn't talked it over with the Board, but that was her desire - she felt I deserved the honour. The Sunday of that week I was told via the grapevine that she had been diagnosed with advanced stage cancer and that there was little that could be done. In fact that was the case. We had a few great chats, laughing at how things had changed. Our discussion eventually came around to music. I offered to go over and sing a few songs, and she jumped at the idea. So the next day or day after, off I went with a few songs worked up and low and behold she had asked many of her friends to be there. It was special. Fran looked lovely as always, only smaller. But, it was obvious to me that she was receiving great care. In the midst of the music, she asked me to share my story, but before I spoke she said, now my cancer is terminal, and Emma Lee's cancer is terminal, and guess what - she said to her friends. Well, you know the answer. Fran's body died a few days before Christmas. I feel blessed to have shared a working friendship with her. She was one dandy lady who gave so much to this community.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life - ala Monty Python

Monty Python - may not be for the faint of heart. I was headed in this direction by Rita, a gal who has been living with bone mets (metastatic breast cancer in her bones) for 30 years! She's now 74. So, copy, paste into a search engine and you should end up in youtube - enjoy! I got a good and needed laugh from it this morning.