Music has always brought family and friends together for Michelle Weiss.
Husband Al is a retired high school music teacher and has played sax in countless bands.
Son Parker, 25, plays the horn and is a member of Yasgurs Farm, one of the bands headlining a concert Oct. 7 that honours Michelle as a breast cancer survivor.
“I like to be the one listening in the corner. You know what I mean?” said Michelle, who was diagnosed in 2012 at the age of 51 with an aggressive stage 2 cancer.
“I received a call the day after my mammogram and had surgery two weeks later,” she explained.
“Of course, I worried. But what are you going to do? You just get on with life and don’t let it get you down.”
Surgery was followed by chemotherapy and radiation.
“I’d go to London for the radiation, come home, tuck a towel across my upper body where it was burned, and go out to cut the grass.
“I wanted to keep everything as normal as possible.”
Michelle considers herself very lucky.
She had great support from medical professionals and family and friends, and the chemo didn’t make her feel too ill.
“Every person’s journey is different and everyone reacts to medication differently,” she said.
“I lost my hair but I tried very hard not to let things get to me. I just put on a hat and kept going.”
In 2013, after radiation treatments ended, Al collaborated with a group of musicians and his daughter’s Sarnia Lady Sting Midget AA team to organize a fundraiser in support of Michelle and other women battling breast cancer.
It was a great success and the concert was repeated the following year at the Imperial Theatre.
Thousands of dollars were directed to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, which is based in Sarnia. Some of that money supported the Pamela Greenaway-Kohlmeier Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit in London.
The fundraiser took a hiatus for a couple of years and now that Michelle is five years cancer free, another concert and silent auction is in the works to raise money for cancer research and Bluewater Health’s mammography unit. The family hopes to raise more than $14,000.
Four hundred of the 600 tickets are already sold for the evening featuring Al Weiss and Friends. Yasgurs Farm, a 10-piece rock, funk and blues band, will be joined on stage by the Riverview Jazz Trio, Almost Floating with long time Sarnia musician Jim Chevalier, the Gillian Nicola Quartet, and solo performances by Bil Eldridge, Mark O’Reilly, Meghan Edgar and guitar player/vocalist Danny Weiss. Danny is a nephew, yet another musician in the family.
Asked what this kind of support means to her, Michelle grows quiet for a moment.
“I can’t talk,” she says finally. “It’s emotional for sure knowing that the gift of music is helping to raise money.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Al Weiss and Friends
WHEN: Saturday Oct. 7
WHERE: Imperial Theatre
TICKETS: $30 at the Imperial Theatre box office. Call 519-344-7469 or visit www.imperialtheatre.net.