The family of a woman who has cared for so many is reaching out to the community for a helping hand, through the power of music.
On Saturday, Aug. 29, a benefit concert will take place for Jeanne Bryans, who is well known in the St. Marys community – but the extent of her battle with cancer is only now coming to light.
The concert features internationally acclaimed Baritone James Westman, versatile soprano Barbara Dunn-Prosser, and Bryans, own talented daughter Diana, a soprano who recently completed her Masters degree in Vocal Performance and Literature from the University of Western Ontario in London. The three will be accompanied by pianist Charmaine Foupoussi. The evening takes place at Zion Lutheran Church in Stratford.
Aside from a stellar and inspiring evening of classical music, there will also be an auction of very special items donated by the St. Marys and Stratford community, including a package from one of Bryans’ favourite musical groups, The Tenors, and an item from NHL great Darryl Sittler (Jeanne’s favourite player and a family relative) and Stratford’s most famous son, Justin Bieber. The purchase of a ticket also includes entry into a raffle for prizes ranging from an iPad and a FitBit to $200 cash. Even if you are unable to attend, you can still show support by purchasing a ticket that has a chance to win.
Two years ago, after an abnormal Pap smear, Jeanne underwent a uterine biopsy and was diagnosed with Type 2 stage 4 uterine cancer, a rare and aggressive cancer. Surgery to remove the tumour was scheduled within a month. But the surgery revealed a far worse case: the cancer had spread to Jeanne’s peritoneal cavity, a protective lining which surrounds the organs, protecting them from damage. The cancer had also entered her lymphatic system, and a number of organs including her spleen, and her ovaries.
Additional surgery took place to safely remove as much of the cancer as possible. Regular rounds of chemotherapy and a strict diet kept the cancer at bay for the interceding two years – until recently. Jeanne was informed that the cancer is spreading again and that chemotherapy is no longer working. She has been directed to another oncologist to hopefully find a new course of treatment, which may include alternative treatments outside of Canada.
“She went from working full-time as a registered practical nurse to being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer,” says Bryans’ son Gary.
Daughter Kimberley adds, “We were told to prepare for her death. Her life changed dramatically in the blink of an eye. She didn’t get to retire, her sick leave ran out over a year ago and she was denied disability.”
“The chemotherapy has taken a huge toll on her body,” explains daughter Tammy Smith.
“We are trying everything and would love to raise money to help ease her financial stress so she can focus on her health,” says daughter Diana. “The cost of the little things like gas and parking for appointments, new clothes because her weight is fluctuating all the time, medication, and help with housework because Mom is limited in what she can do – we want to help ease some of the load on an already-overflowing plate so she can focus on her health.”
Having others care for her is a dramatic change for Jeanne, who returned to school at age 40 to become a practical nurse; she was well known and beloved by patients and their families alike at Wildwood Care Centre in St. Marys.
“Our Mom is a natural-born caregiver,” says daughter Catherine. “But when it comes to helping herself, that’s a whole different story. Even at this stage, she worries about her family’s health instead of focusing on herself.”
Jeanne’s huge capacity for caring comes full circle in this concert. “She cared for James Westman’s mother and always dreamed about me singing with him some day,” Diana said. “This concert will be an honour for our mother to see come true.”
Tickets are $20 each and available at Lyric Flowers in St. Marys, or by calling Jeanne’s daughter Tamara Lee Smith at 519-284-9917. Donations can also be made online at YouCaring.com, and searching for “Jeanne Bryans.” The family is also accepting auction donations: please contact Catherine or Diana if you’d like to make a donation.
Benefit & Fundraiser for Jeanne Bryans
Saturday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m.
Zion Lutheran Church, 202 Erie St., Stratford
For more information:
Diana Bryans, 226-237-4383 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine Kondel, 574-265-3927 or email@example.com