I just wanted to thank our friends at Music Nova Scotia for including a tribute to my mother in their Gala awards show. I have included the speech my father read at the show. They projected a beautiful slide show, and played "Send Someon For Me" (Track 15)
November 6th, 2011
Thirty years ago I was working as a sound tech for the group Granfalloon, 5 guys from Northern Nova Scotia. One day I was called to a band meeting where I was told they had invited a Pictou County native to return to the area and join the group. When I found out that they had invited a girl my response was “are you nuts!! She’s is going to change everything!! “. In hindsight those words ring true.
Emma Lee Stewart was a singer, a songwriter, an actor, director, producer, wife and mother. She was also:
Founding Chair of the New Glasgow Jubilee
Chaired the New Glasgow Music Festival
New Glasgow 125 Celebrations
Breast Cancer Action Nova Scotia
Citizens Against Pollution
She was a:
Choir Director, Worship Coordinator
A Board Member Tearman Society for Abused Women, Coastline Theatre, New Glasgow Dragon Boat Society
CBC Radio Community Contact for New Glasgow
Co founder of Postcard Players Theatre Company
In 2006 Emma Lee realized her lifelong dream of releasing her first CD. “The Reason” was launched in September of that year and included tracks penned by Matt Minglewood, Ron Hynes, Enoch Kent, Sylvia Tyson as well as 6 of her own songs. She was receiving airplay in New Glasgow, Truro on CBC, plans were in place for shows in PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick all seemed to be falling into place. However, 4 days before Christmas (the longest night of the year) Emma Lee was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In January of 07 she underwent surgery, in March chemo and in May radiation, which took place in Halifax. While in Halifax staying at the Cancer Society’s Lodge that Gives and undergoing treatment she heard about a casting call for a film being shot in Halifax, they were looking for women that were in cancer treatment to make up the support group in scenes of the film “Matters of Life and Dating”, she was able to schedule her radiation treatments around the shooting and spent a week in Halifax as a “paid actress”. Upon returning to New Glasgow she began to resume her life but this time with a focus on exercise and diet. She discovered dragon boating and joined the Women Alike A Breast a River Dragon Boat Team, this was a passion she enjoyed until May of this year.
In the fall of 2007 she decided she wanted to give back to the Canadian Cancer Society’s Lodge That Gives and made contact with them and with the help of family and friends organized the 1st Reason for Hope Concert on her birthday November 13th. The event realized $11,000.00 the largest single donation “The Lodge” had ever received. With that event the Reason for Hope Society was created. All seemed to be once again falling into place Emma Lee received 2 Music Nova Scotia nominations, she resumed her legal career (did I mention she had 25 year career with the largest law firm in Northern Nova Scotia?) was once again performing, writing, organizing and dreaming.
Three more Reason’s for Hope were organized with funds being raised for the Aberdeen Hospital and Breast Cancer Action Nova Scotia. The first recordings were completed for along planned Christmas Album, she was working out at the “Y”, doing Spin Class, Dragon boating, travelling and enjoying life when in May of 2010 we received a call and were summoned to her doctors office where we were told her cancer had returned as Metastatic Breast Cancer and we would meet with her Oncologist in the near future to discuss treatment. This we both were convinced just a set back and a similar treatment as in the past would have all back too normal. This was not the case as what we found was that Metastatic Breast Cancer is treatable however is not curable. This was for the moment overwhelming, as at no time was the prospect of an incurable disease ever in our thoughts.
We began to learn more about the disease; Emma Lee researched and found a conference-taking place in Indianapolis and as there were no Canadian programs available to assist her with funding to attend approached the American Susan B. Koman Foundation and received a grant to cover her travel, accommodation and registration. She returned from the conference with optimism as she had met women that have been living with her disease for as long as 28 years. She began chemotherapy treatment in July of 2010, continued to paddle with her team and tried to live her life in as normal a way as possible. She became more involved with Breast Cancer Action Nova Scotia and was an inspiration to others diagnosed with the disease.
One day during that summer Emma called and told me she had been talking to our daughter Mary and that she had been in touch with a number of her musical friends in Nova Scotia and Toronto and she was putting together a CD to raise funds for Metastatic Breast Cancer Research, 2 weeks later Emma was in Codapop Studios recording a song for the project. Her rendition of the Cindy Church/ Kaitlin Hanford song “Send Someone for Me” is track 15 on the Reason for Hope CD Project.
On July 14th 2010 Emma Lee began to blog perhaps not on a daily basis but very close to it. She wrote about her treatment, her friends, her family, her dog Honey, her observations on life. Over the next 14 months the followers of her blog increased, to this day we have no idea how many she touched with her words but I would like to share with you one of her entry’s.
This morning I had a fabulous conversation with a dear friend. He reminded me of the energy of love that has been surrounding me and my family throughout this journey. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I am every day reminded of it. But, I think as you have gathered, I’m not feeling well and when I’m not feeling well, it’s hard for me to focus. Really, really hard. It is something I am trying to come to terms with. In the dark of night, I call upon all of the energy that is surrounding me to become a part of me, to fill me and take away all negative energy. I cry for that to happen. So today, I’m crying for all the positive to fill me. And that positive is love. That’s what happened in the hammock in the back 40.
As I was laying under my trusty old maple tree with the sun shining through at just the right angle to see a spider’s web in all its glory and to watch the sun dance on the leaves of that tree, like drops of sunshine really, silently raining down on me, I felt love filling me up. I was taken away somewhere and for a couple of hours, I felt fabulous. Love. Can you pull it up? Can you imagine it? The love that fills this universe? The energy of love that fills this universe? There were children happily playing and a dog barking (in the distance) and the world seemed just right for a long while. Now that is a memory that I am going to replay over and over again, and hope that tomorrow it will happen all over again.
Peace to you all. Get out there and experience the love in this universe. Open your hearts and minds and pull it all in: accept it, its there for us, for all of us.