Leaving a musical legacy

Dry July funding for the Music Recording Studio at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre (ONJ Centre) is giving patients an opportunity to express their feelings as they go through cancer diagnosis, treatment, and for some, end-of-life care.

Listening to and making music is one of the few activities that activates the whole brain, including regions related to emotion, movement and memories. Engaging in music therapy can help to reduce pain, anxiety and depression in patients with cancer and it can have a significant positive impact on their quality of life.

Kate McMahon is a Music Therapist at the ONJ Centre, helping facilitate music therapy for patients and families during treatment or during their hospital stay.

“I’ve seen music therapy help patients express difficult emotions and to find meaning, comfort and joy in the present moment,” she says. “It helps support families to connect and reminisce in difficult times and I’ve seen it bring people together in laughter and tears.”

Here at the ONJ Centre, song-writing is a powerful tool used to help patients express their thoughts and feelings about their cancer journey. For patients in end-of-life care, this gives them an opportunity to send a message of love to families and to create a legacy to be remembered by.

“Thanks to Dry July, our patients have the opportunity to use our custom-built recording studio to bring these songs to life,” says Kate. “For many patients, this is the first time they’ve attempted to write or record a song, and they’re often pleasantly surprised at their own abilities. In the recording studio, patients have the chance to sing, play instruments and contribute to the arrangement of their song. This unique experience gives patients the chance to be in control of their own legacy and achieve a sense of pride and accomplishment. The end result is a meaningful and personal work of art, and something to leave behind for loved ones.”

Every day, Kate sees patients and families express joy and gratitude for the opportunity to access music therapy.

“I’ve had patients tell me that music therapy is the thing that helped them get through their hospital stay,” she says. “Some patients tell me it’s been deeply meaningful. Family members often come up to thank me after a session, sharing that the session was really special and helpful.”

Kate says that for so many patients at the ONJ Centre, having access to programs like music therapy during treatment can make all the difference.

“Having programs like music therapy ensures our patients aren’t just cared for physically, they’re cared for emotionally, socially and even spiritually. This whole-person approach means our patients can feel truly cared for by our whole team and have a more positive hospital experience overall.”

Music therapy at the ONJ Centre exists because of support from Dry July and the wonderful supporters who go ‘dry in July’ to raise funds for these vital programs. We are deeply grateful for the difference you make to patients and their families.


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Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre

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