Volunteer musicians help ease suffering at James Cancer Hospital

It’s been said often that music soothes the soul. To someone suffering from cancer, music can do much more . It can ease suffering. At the Ohio State University’ James Cancer Hospital some three dozen volunteer musicians do just that.

On the tenth floor of the James Cancer Hospital, the patients are very sick. Their cancer has advanced to such a point where some must stay at the hospital for weeks at a time. Many are from out of town; some are from out of state.

It’s a difficult place at which to stay, visit and work, but on this afternoon, music brightens the mood.

Volunteer Pianist Nancy Carrico sits a small piano and plays. The Piano is in the hallway, outside patient rooms, next to the nurse’s station. Its music fills the hallways and drifts into the ears of patients, their visiting loved ones and the hospital staff.

82 year old cancer patient Stan Peppel – attached to an IV pole – is walking laps in the hallway with his daughter. He stops for a moment to listen…

It’s relaxing. I just really enjoy the music, he said.

35 volunteer musicians volunteer for the MusicCare program. Some play the piano, others a harp, cello, guitar, there’s even a banjo player. The program has been around for six years.

Nancy Carrico began playing the piano for patients 6 months ago. She says her bi-weekly hour long performances are very rewarding.

When you see the patients and see their faces… it makes you feel good you’ve touched them.

For Nancy, playing is also therapy for her. Her daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.

It’s been a rough couple of years for my family. Music has always been a big part of my life so this is something I can share.

71 year old Dorothy Wilkinson of West Virginia is entering the 4th week of her current round of cancer treatment. She says the music can be a big help.

It can really cheer you up.

While she enjoys the piano, Dorothy Wilkinson admits she’s partial to the harp. Her husband Thomas recalls the first time they heard it.

The music breaks the monotony… It rekindles memories from happier times. It eases the worrying at least for a moment; it helps patients forget, at least for a moment, that they are sick.

It also helps the staff. Nurse Pat Curtis, her face showing signs of a stressful day, was heading home. But her day ended with music.

Cut – It’s been a horribly busy, frantic day. When she comes to play, it just settles the nerves.

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