Therapeutic Music Program Helps Cancer Patients

By Sharon Boston

Media Relations Manager

Music and sound, such as a happy song on the radio or the frightening score of a scary movie, have the ability to change our moods. Many people have a physical and emotional connection to sound, and scientific research has shown that music can be beneficial in healing.

Now, through a grant from the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research, the University of Maryland Medical Center is offering live therapeutic music to patients receiving treatment at the Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Therapeutic musician Terri Fevang plays keyboard pieces tailored to each patient’s mood or emotions, so each visit is different. Some patients may be anxious while awaiting test results, while others may be tired after receiving chemotherapy or radiation.

“The music is peaceful and calming, and takes my mind off my pain and worries,” says Jessica Montgomery, a 29-year-old leukemia patient. “When Terri comes in, we turn the TV off and just listen to her play. My dad is usually there too, and he often falls asleep because it’s so relaxing.”

The live therapeutic music program is part of the Medical Center’s Integrative Care team, which offers treatments such as acupressure, guided imagery and yoga breathing to patients throughout the hospital, including the Shock Trauma Center.  The goal is to help patients relax, optimizing health and healing.

Terri playingThe Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation grant also allows researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine to study the potential benefits of live therapeutic music for these cancer patients. The grant will fund a pilot study to see if the therapy can affect patients’ anxiety, mood and quality of life as well as some physical indicators such as pulse oximetry, which measures the pulse and oxygen in the blood.

“We have received a great deal of positive feedback from patients about the music program. Now we want to see if the data supports this encouraging anecdotal evidence,” explains Chris D’Adamo, PhD, director of research at the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, which is part of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

If the pilot program with 30 patients is successful, researchers hope to launch a larger study on the benefits of therapeutic music.

 Click here to see a WBAL-TV story about the live therapeutic music story.


Seven-Year-Old Leukemia Patient Raises $1,800 to “Find A Cure for Cancer”

By Chris Lindsley
UMMC Blog Editor

Seven-year-old Brasen VonMoose-Lemin had the idea to set up a lemonade stand to help “his” hospital. What he didn’t have were any limitations on what his fundraiser for the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH) could accomplish. “I want to help find a cure for childhood cancer,” he said.

Brasen has battled leukemia since 2008, and has grown close to the doctors and staff at UMCH. After seeing information about a fundraiser for Johns Hopkins, he said “my hospital needs one of these.”

What started off as a lemonade stand selling brownies turned into a full-scale fundraiser with donations from local businesses that raised more than $1,800 for UMCH, which he presented to pediatric oncologist Dr. Teresa York.

“Brasen had the money he raised in a bag, and asked me to guess how much was there,” Dr. York said. “I guessed $250. He then broke into a big smile and said, “I’ve raised more than EIGHTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS.” I could not believe it. What a wonderful gift and insight he has at such a young age.”

Said Brasen about the contents of his paper bag. “I never saw so much money before.”

Brasen’s treatments are going well, and his attitude and outlook have inspired Dr. York and other members of his care team.

“Brasen is an inspiration to all of us with his courage and strength,” said Dr. York. “I am amazed at his dedication to fighting leukemia, his will to live and how his fight has touched so many lives.”

His mother Cherie said she wasn’t surprised when Brasen mentioned his fundraising idea.

“He likes helping others, and he doesn’t want other kids to go through what he has,” Cherie said. “He wants to continue to have an annual fundraiser every year until there is a cure for childhood cancer.”

For his part, Brasen says simply, “I don’t think about my problems when helping others.”

Leukemia Survivor “Forever Grateful” for the Care She Received

By Sylvia Stetz

My story started on December 9, 2004 when my primary care doctor diagnosed me with pneumonia. While I was taking medication to treat the pneumonia, my leg started to hurt. It became so painful my husband couldn’t even touch it. I returned to the doctor’s office on December 15, 2004. By the time I arrived, I was having difficulty breathing. My doctor immediately had me transported to Easton Memorial Hospital.

Doctors there performed a number of tests, including a bone marrow test. Test results confirmed I had a blood clot — also known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) — in my left leg, and a diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

After the diagnosis, doctors immediately made arrangements for me to be transported to the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center. I arrived at UMGCC on December 18.

Before I could begin treatment for the leukemia, doctors had to get my body ready to receive chemotherapy. I was still suffering from pneumonia, and the blood clot in my leg also had to be addressed. Once those conditions were resolved, I gave my consent to begin four rounds of chemotherapy.

UMGCC was my home for almost one year. From December 2004 until October 2005, I alternated one month in the cancer center for treatment and one month at home with my family. I had my bone marrow test in June 2006; the results showed no evidence of leukemia in my body.

If you happen to find yourself in a situation like mine, rest assured knowing that UMGCC is the best place for you to be. Everyone there serves with a caring heart, a smile on their face and life to their step.

I often ask myself, how do you say thank you to someone who has helped you get through a trial in your life — especially when there are people to thank whom you’ll never meet, such as the folks in the lab and the folks in the kitchen? Everyone who works at UMGCC plays an important role, from the housekeeper keeping my room clean to the hostess bringing me three meals each day. Every job is important!

The techs were there to hold my hand during bone marrow tests; the nurses were there when I needed someone to listen; and everyone was there to pray with and for me when I needed spiritual guidance. The doctors were caring and listened to me. They really went the extra mile to ease my mind. You just couldn’t ask for more.

So, how do you say thanks? I try to show my appreciation by revisiting the cancer center from time to time to say “Hello” and “Thank You” to the staff and to encourage the other patients. Looking back, I know that God put every single one of them in my life for a reason, and I’m forever grateful. I salute each and every one of them.