April 03, 2023

Cancer Music Therapy?


Self-touted Musical Pharmacologist, Vera Brandes believes that music has healing, maybe even curative powers, and she’s designing clinical trials to prove her point.  In her practice a patient would receive a diagnosis, be given music specifically composed for that ailment (she says that listening to music you are familiar with doesn’t work), and prescribed a listening regimen. While it sounds far fetched to me, there is no denying it would be vastly more pleasant than chemo.

Even if music does not have the power to cure, it can transport and put into sound what often cannot be said in words.

You may know Matthew Zachary as the founder of the I’m Too Young For This Foundation, but how many of you knew he was on the track to becoming a concert pianist before he was diagnosed with brain cancer at 21?

Numbness in his left hand was the first symptom. Throughout his treatment, Matthew composed music in his mind.  (I can relate to this quite well because I choreograph dances in my head non-stop.)  After surgery and debilitating radiation treatment, he began using his hand again.  Although his hand never returned to its pre-cancer mobility, he went on to record three albums, two of which related to his cancer experience.

After a ten year break, Matthew is playing a solo concert in New York on April 11.  Matthew says, “Playing music is cathartic, an emotional release, a steam valve.  It improves the quality of my life and helps me re-anchor to my first true passion.  But I don’t mean to be therapeutic – if that is what the audience gets out of it for themselves that is fine.  To me playing music shows that everyone has the potential to get what they want out of life given the crap they are dealt.”

Has your cancer diagnosis, or another illness ever interrupted a creative part of your life?  Have you returned to it?  Do you find art to be healing?  Do you ever consider it to be your medicine?

Seating is limited for Matthew’s concert.  Reserve your tickets here.

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April 02, 2023

Crying After Good News


Weight of the Wait
I got good news from my doctor last week. My tumors are stable. Amen. They didn’t shrink, which sucks, but I wasn’t exactly expecting them to either. So it wasn’t spectacular news, it wasn’t horrible news. It was good news.

So why later that night, laying in my bed at Miracle House, did I bust out crying, sobbing like a baby. Yes, I was watching the cheesy movie I Am Sam where hottie Sean Penn plays a developmentally disabled Starbucks worker. And, I’m sure I had a tinge of PMS too. But it was a lot more than that. It was the weight of the wait flooding out of me.

Mack Truck
I’ve come up with some pretty great ways to tame my worry while waiting for check ups. But regardless of how adept I’ve become at distraction, curbing anxiety, and processing reality, there will always be a nugget of tightly wound fear that I store away in some inaccessible reach of my heart while I count down the days on my calendar. It doesn’t matter if the news from my doc is simply fantastic – waiting wears me down.

The night after an appointment I feel run over by a Mac truck. It is such a contrast to the world around me. Family and friends might feel the relief that my wait is over; they have news, be it great, just okay, or even bad. But for me, this afterwords time is when my real sadness crawls out of the fox hole and I have one of those good sulky cries that sometimes doesn’t even make a sound.

How do you respond to going to the doctor? What happens to you after the wait is over? When your news is good, are you able to start the celebration right away or do you have some lag time? This post was written with Abby in mind, whose been waiting the hard wait for her doctor’s appointment today. Thinking of you my dear!

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