Music therapy helps kids and adults tune out cancer

For many people, listening to music is a way to tune out everyday noise. Music can relieve stress, increase energy levels and have a powerful effect on emotions. If listening to music can positively impact someone, then imagine what creating music can do for someone fighting a life-threatening disease, such as cancer.

September is Childhood Cancer
Awareness Month

The Children’s Hospital Foundation raises funds exclusively for Norton Children’s Hospital and its sister facilities to provide equipment, new technologies, clinical research, child advocacy and health education for patients, families, medical staff and the community.

At Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, childhood cancer patients are learning to tune out cancer with music therapy. The Children’s Hospital Foundation and Teen Cancer America (founded by Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who) support Cancer Beats, a program aimed at improving quality of life and outcomes for teens and young adults with cancer. It also supports those affected by cancer and facilitates access to the best possible age-appropriate care and support.

“If you do any type of behavioral therapy, you can improve survival,” said Joseph Flynn, D.O., MPH, physician-in-chief, Norton Cancer Institute. “Music therapy can actually help improve outcomes in young people.”

Teen and adult cancer patients alike can experience music therapy in social settings through Cancer Beats “jam sessions,” where community musicians help Cancer Beats members learn new skills and coping strategies, meet peers, gain support and be creative in a safe and controlled environment.

“These sessions provide a chance to live in the moment, shut out the worries of the day and create beautiful memories using music,” said Brett Northrup, music therapist, Norton Children’s Hospital.

Members of Cancer Beats performed at Chili’s Clip for Kids® on May 4, 2018, at Fourth Street Live!

“Music has helped me focus on something other than getting medicine all the time. It’s given me something positive to focus on,” said Noah Burrows, acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivor.


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