'If I can make somebody feel better, even just for a moment, it is worthwhile'
Belting out beautiful tunes with her powerful voice, Emma Dennis looks out into an elated crowd. All she wants is to make someone feel better – even if it is just for a moment.
Emma suffers from secondary breast cancer but this life-sapping illness is masked by her positivity and desire to help others.
Emma's strong, beautiful voice has helped her to raise thousands of pounds for charity as, determined to help others and live life to the full, she and husband Steven perform in concerts to raise money.
The soprano singer, who covers opera, operetta, folk songs and classicals, was born in South Wales.
This Friday Mexican night at The Black Bull, Burton Pidsea, Two...View details
Indulge with our delicious range of specially selected Mexican dishes available from 5pm to 8:30pm this Friday 21st June. Traditional evening menu also available.
Terms: Terms: Friday the 21st June only, from 5pm to 8:30pm. Offer includes two main Mexican courses. Minimum 2 people dining.
Contact: 01964 770402
Valid until: Saturday, June 22 2013
"I was born into singing," said 42-year-old Emma. "It was just something I did. When I was younger I decided to see how far I could go with my singing, so off I went to the Royal Welsh College Of Music And Drama, where I studied opera and music."
It was here that she met husband Steven Goulden, a tenor from East Yorkshire.
Her talents then allowed her to move on to the Royal Academy Of Music in London.
Emma, who has been singing professionally for 20 years, moved to Skelton with Steven and the couple started singing together professionally.
But life changed drastically last January when Emma was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"When I was first diagnosed, I was in shock," Emma said. "I thought I was going to be better after my first chemo but that wasn't to be.
"I cancelled my career and for the first six months, I didn't think of anything else. But I quickly realised that you don't have to be alone when you're going through this."
With the devastating news of cancer, Emma and Steven both put their careers on hold.
"We decided we wanted to help others in some way, so I thought, well, all I can really do is sing – so that's what we decided to do," Emma said.
The couple are raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Breast Cancer Care by performing in concerts around Yorkshire.
"Both charities wanted us to sing at their Christmas concerts last year, so we did that. It all went from there," Emma said.
Gaining support from both of these charities, Emma and Steven are keen to give something back to them as their way of saying thank you.
"The hardest part of cancer is dealing with the mental side. That is where the support becomes necessary and invaluable," she said. "You have to have a lot of scans and tests and all these strange things done to you. It is very, very scary. But if you take the help that is there to help you deal with it, it is really worthwhile.
"It is so important to try to stay positive. Life is for living. Be as positive as you can – there is so much joy to have. People have conditions to live with and this is mine. Seize the day."
Emma and Steven's passion and determination is inspirational – this is a woman who is not letting her illness ruin her life.
"There is so much happiness to be had and I have had some of the happiest moments over the past year," Emma said.
As well as raising money to help the charities carry on, Emma said that they want to raise awareness of both Macmillan and Breast Cancer Care, too, so people know what the charities can do for them.
"We really want to raise awareness," Emma said.
"As a singer and a person, there is no better feeling than to know I am helping other people by standing up on stage. If there is somebody in the audience I can make feel better just for a moment, it is worthwhile.
"I am living my life. This might encourage others to do the same."
Singing songs from musicals, well-known operas and much more, Emma said the pair offers a wide repertoire.
"We try to offer something for everyone," she said. "People are really encouraged by the concerts and are very enthusiastic – even giving standing ovations.
"We want to keep doing the concerts as much as we can."
As well as her gratitude towards the charities, Emma is grateful for the help she has received from the Queen's Centre For Oncology at Castle Hill Hospital.
"It is wonderful," she said. "The nurses, consultants and doctors are so very caring and supportive – there is a lot of help out there. The centre is a great help to me and Steven.
"You can just drop in and have a coffee and a chat or use their complementary health sessions, such as relaxation, reflexology and hypnotherapy.
"You can also speak to them on the phone if you need to. This goes hand-in-hand with my medical treatment."
Alongside their performances for Macmillan and Breast Cancer Care, Emma and Steven have also sung for patients with Music In Hospitals.
"It is easy to let cancer take over your life, so by doing these concerts, I am trying to not let this happen," Emma said. "I want people to know that, for those who are going through things like this, there is a fantastic amount of help and support available. I don't know where we would be without it."
Breast Cancer Care has help forums full of information and Macmillan provides support to the individual and their family.
"People often think that Macmillan is for people who are coming to the end of their lives but it's not," Emma said.
"They are there for everybody and really can give you a lot of support. It is hard from day to day, so get all the help you can.
"You might as well, it is there for you.
"This is our chance to give something back to the charities that have helped us stay positive."
As well as standing up on stage and singing her heart out to raise money, two days a week, Emma is a singing teacher for youngsters at Terrington Hall Preparatory School in North Yorkshire.
"The teaching is a real help for me," Emma said.
"It helps to keep me going and it makes everything normal for me when I teach my little stars. I really love it.
"They tell you things that others wouldn't. Children say what they want and everything is out in the open – there is no elephant in the room when I am with them."
Emma has also recently become a singing tutor at the University Of Hull.
Performing in concerts may be what Emma loves doing but she wants to do more to help and is keen to support other charities, too.
"If there are other charities who would like us to sing, we will do," Emma said. "I would like to go further in my fundraising."
Secondary Breast Cancer Awareness Day – part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month – is on Saturday.
Emma and Steven's next concert is also on Saturday, at Terrington Village Hall in Ryedale.
For more details, visit www.macmillan.org.uk; www.breastcancercare.org.uk; and www.emmadennis.co.uk