Monday, June 13, 2011

To Ellen:


This is the letter that I wrote and wanted to send to you when I thought I had 1500 words to use. The one I sent with 1489 ish characters was edited from this letter.
I originally posted this on Friday, May 13, but i'm going to keep posting it at the top, until you get a chance to read it.

Dear Ellen,
Cindy Left, Me Right
I’m writing this because my very good friend Cindy, who has been the “team captain” of the support team of my friends for many years, really wants me to (and because it would surprise the hell out of her if she found out that I did).  Cindy has tried a few times to submit my name and my story to you and your show, because she wants to see me get a new handicapped accessible van, in order to simplify my life. 

I do think it would help, and it would be fun to meet you, so, here I go:

I was born in Bemidji, Minnesota in 1970, which is apparently the reason that I was later struck with Multiple Sclerosis in 1993 at the age of 23.  Or, so it is the only reason I’ve found.  For some reason, more women from the north half of this continent gets M.S.  But that’s not the story.  The M.S. freaked me out at first and I got really lazy and fat and was afraid to exercise, but then I got really tired of that and decided to mentally beat that disease and physically take my body back.  Well, it either partly worked, or I just got “lucky” and acquired the less debilitating kind of MS.   I went on with my life, completed Physical Therapy school, spent 4 years in a rock-n-roll band as a drummer, and then traveled Southeast Asia and Mexico.  At some point, I decided to settle down, got married, and began to really focus on the exercise again. It was the M.S. 150 bike ride from Houston to Austin that really got me addicted.  After two years of completing that ride, and the completion of my first ½ marathon, my husband and I got pregnant.  Here’s where the story begins in my eyes.

In October 2003, my beautiful baby girl, Adaline, was born.  Well…. extracted, in a hurry.  It was an emergency C-Section, and she was immediately rushed off to the NICU with Grand Mal Seizure requiring intubation.  After blood tests, CT scans and EEGs we were told that she had lost ¾ of her hemoglobin during what they called a Fetal to Maternal bleed. This caused her Moderate/Severe Brain damage and her seizures.  She would likely not walk or talk. Despite her angelic looks, her innate beauty and her captivating smile, the first three or so years of her life were pretty much Hell for the three of us.  Yes, my husband Richie and I did somehow manage to stay together despite all odds (Most folks with disabled children divorce, and Richie’s mother- in- law believing in her heart that he wasn’t the one).  During the first 3 years, myself and my husband both pretty much entrenched ourselves in exercise, I believe to fight off, or to ignore the sadness.  He began racing bicycles, and really wanted to win a race for Adaline, for some reason (which he did J).  I went on to run marathons, including the Boston Marathon.  Somehow though, the desire to have another child, despite the ridiculous, and ultimately frightening nature of that idea, kept creeping in.  At some point, after 4 years, my husband gave in and we had our beautiful baby boy Ace.  It was not an emergency, and it was “how it was supposed to be”.  I bounced right back after that pregnancy and C-Section.  I began running again and then found trail running.  I was a natural, and I loved it, and things both on the trail, and at home were going very well.  It was a great 2 years!

One week after my last trail race (in which I placed 6th female J), I found a lump in my right breast.  Of course I assumed it was hormonal, because I’d had a “history” of being  “hormonal”.  Within 3 days it began to hurt, and within 1 week I found myself with my breasts in a clamp. (Mammogram).  Approximately 20 minutes after the mammogram, the Radiologist was sitting next to me saying something I could not hear.  I asked her to repeat what she had just said,  and then she said….”you have Cancer”.  That was August 27th 2011.  So, since then, I’ve been busy with full time work, a 2-3 year old, a 7 year old in a wheelchair, Biopsy, Chemotherapy, Surgery , right mastectomy, and now radiation.  The left mastectomy and reconstruction are planned after radiation.   Yes, I am still trying to exercise.

Since Cancer, my 1999 Toyota Sienna, which is a great car, has proceeded to break at all of the handles.  For example, in order to get the 3 year old into his seat, I have to crawl to the back seat from the front seat, with him to strap him in because the side door no longer opens.  In order to get the wheelchair into the back, I have to crawl into the back to pop the hatch from the inside out to open it.  The repair is going to cost $600 and I’m just stuck. Because I don’t think the car is worth that, I won’t take it in.  Not to mention, it is disgustingly dirty, as it hasn’t been cleaned in over a year.

So, here’s where my friend Cindy thought that you, Ellen, could come in. 


Emily "Powerhouse" Howell

P.S. Recently, my work called and told me that the therapy clinic I work(ed) in is being closed.  My job will no longer exist when I am released back to work.

I do also have a blog (which now it seems that all breast cancer survivors have) if you are interested in more details, or just plain “oh look, there’s a car wreck” entertainment. J
Ballotable Records    Of Cancer and Trail Dreams


  1. I watch Ellen every day when I need a pick me up, a good laugh or just to admire someone who is doing things I wish other people in her position were doing. Wouldn't we all be so much better off? Anyhow, thanks for sharing that Powerhouse!

  2. The cats and I are avid Ellen viewers as well. Genius idea Cindy!!
    If y'all have to travel to CA for the show, I will gladly come along and help with the kids :)