Since the onslaught of her bone cancer, and the subsequent stripping of the normal cushions of life, massage therapist Linda Ford has been asking, "Who am I?"
One thing is certain: The 42-year-old Millersville resident is someone people love to help.
Friends last month had an auction for Ford, her husband, Bruce, and their 7-year-old son, Alex, raising thousands of dollars.
Tomorrow evening, a colleague of Ford's and her husband are holding a benefit concert for the couple.
Carolyn Sonnen, a flutist, and husband, Phil Greenfield, a baritone, will perform works including Handel's Flute Sonata in G, Dvorak's "Biblical Songs," Mozart's Andante in C, and "Liederkreis" by Schumann.
Sonnen, a music therapist, met Ford in the course of her work.
Linda and Bruce, an oysterman, were unable to work. Her breast cancer has spread to her bones. Earlier this year, Bruce had a triple fusion of three vertebrae in his back, with steel plates inserted. The operation was successful, but infection set in where bone had been removed from his hip to put in his spine.
For weeks, neither Linda nor Bruce could stand. In the last month, Bruce has returned to his job, although he cannot yet dive. Linda remains at home, wearing a catheter in her chest that feeds her continuous chemotherapy.
She has had to close her practice as a massage therapist, although she would like to teach meditation if her health permits.
"Now that I don't do this or this, and my body is not quite working, I start asking, 'Who am I?' " Ford says. "How much can I do with my son? Every day is new. All the illusions are disappearing, the masks are disappearing to the spirit."
For Greenfield and his wife, Ford is a colleague who could use their help.
"My wife and I had worked up a recital we did once in Greenbelt," said Greenfield. "With Linda and her husband both incapacitated, we got the bright idea in the aftermath of the auction that we'd go ahead and do the recital again and target a different population, some of Linda's colleagues, colleagues of ours who weren't there for the auction or for whatever reason might like to come."
The help they offer the Fords is that of professional musicians. Sonnen has degrees in flute from Catholic University and the University of Miami and has performed widely. Greenfield has been a soloist with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center and is the cantor at Congregation Mishkan Torah in Greenbelt. He is also an Annapolis high school teacher and frequent contributor to The Anne Arundel County Sun.
Greenfield praises the four "Biblical" songs he'll perform.
"They're just gorgeous; you don't have to be religious to like them," he says.
The couple also will perform selections by Haydn, Faure, Debussy, Richard Rogers and P.D.Q. Bach. Cindy Slate, the organist for Eastpoint United Methodist Church, will be the piano accompanist.
"I'd take any opportunity to sing this music," says Greenfield. "And it's a nice way to use music."
Says Ford, "I feel very honored they are doing this. I'm in awe of it."
The concert is scheduled for tomorrow night at 7:30, at the Unity By the Bay Center, 826 Ritchie Highway in Severna Park, at the Severna Park Business Center. Donations of $10 a person are suggested.