Jazz musician set to take stage at Lumière Charity Gala

By Shannon Bain on September 8 / 2016

For Anne Lewis, music has always held a very special place in her heart.

“My father was my biggest influence,” she shares.  “He was in the Air Force and really enjoyed the military big brass band sound.  He would always bring home albums and I remember watching my parents dance.  They loved music, and I fell in love with it too.”

It was music that comforted her when her beloved father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, a disease that eventually took his life in 1992.

“I have always used my music as a means of expressing how I feel about anything in life – happy or sad,” explains Anne.  “In my father’s case I remember thinking I could probably write enough songs to complete an album – because he meant everything to me.”

Like her father, Anne is passing down her passion for the arts, sharing her love of music with her sons, and two young grandchildren.

“My grand-daughters and I sing every nursery rhyme you could imagine, and of course they know all the songs from the movie Frozen,” boasts Anne.  “But it’s still so hard for me to believe where I am today – and how things changed in such a short amount of time.”

Anne is referring to her life-threatening battle with cancer, which happened just over a decade ago.

It was in 2004 that the songstress discovered a worrisome spot on her back.  The fact that it was itchy and grew quickly prompted her dermatologist to remove it.  The biopsy results confirmed that the nodule was indeed cancerous -stage III melanoma.  But that diagnosis turned out to be just the beginning of her journey.  A CT scan for the melanoma found a second cancer in her body, this time it impacted her thyroid.

“Here I was 46 years old and suddenly fighting two types of cancer at the same time, and one was threatening my life,” explains Anne.  “I was struggling with ‘am I going to die’ due to the first cancer, and ‘am I ever going to sing again’ with the second cancer.”

As part of her treatment for the second cancer surgeons removed her thyroid, and Anne was devastated to discover the procedure had compromised her vocal chords.  She was no longer able to sustain the same notes and was forced to come to terms with the fact that she might never sing again.

“When you go through something like that it really affects your self-confidence,” she explains.  “That’s what happened to me.  I started feeling sorry for myself and walked away thinking that I would never come back.”

With the help of family and friends she found the courage to push those thoughts aside and made a commitment to herself to stay positive.  She focused her efforts on getting her strength back, and then rebuilding her voice.  She spent months working with a speech pathologist, and for Lewis, the results were more than she could have imagined.  Then in 2015, she made her triumphant return to the stage – performing a concert at the National Arts Centre, and she hasn’t looked back.

On September 22nd Anne will take the stage again, this time at the Brookstreet for the 14th annual Lumière Charity Gala.  For Lewis, it will be a full-circle moment, giving back to an event that supports local cancer care through the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.

“I am so honoured to be a part of Lumière and I am looking forward to the evening.  I am in such a great place right now – I just love life!”

Lumière Charity Gala

The Brookstreet Hotel, in partnership with the Wesley Clover Foundation are pleased to present the 14th Annual Lumière Gala on Thursday September 22, 2016.  The extravagant red-themed evening will include ten different food stations serving contemporary creative cuisine, as well as a selection of delicious cancer busting super foods paired with exceptional wines, live jazz, silent and live auctions and an unforgettable fireworks display, this will be an evening to remember!

Tickets are $150 each.  For more information please visit http://www.brookstreethotel.com/eat/lumiere-charity-gala/.

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