Written By: Tom Eschen and Erica Kenney
For a few magical moments, kids undergoing the pain and emotional challenge of cancer treatment have a chance to step away from their daily routine and instantly transform, from patient to rock star.
These young musicians write and record original songs in the unlikeliest of places: their own hospital room. The musical interludes are more than just a welcome break; they are part of a unique program created by Maryville University called Kids Rock Cancer. Using the proven healing power of music therapy, Kids Rock Cancer provides an outlet of emotion and expression for children who have been diagnosed with cancer and other blood disorders (read more about the program in the August issue of HEC-TV Magazine).
A recent benefit concert for Kids Rock Cancer at The Sheldon Concert Hall featured musicians Brian Owens, Erin Bode and Peter Martin. One highlight of the program was seven-year-old cancer patient Arianna Dougan, who took the stage in a special duet (watch below) with Bode and brought the audience to a standing ovation. The benefit concert premieres on HEC-TV and hectv.org this August.
An Update on Ari:
On June 29, 2009 at the age of three, Arianna Dougan was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma. She has since gone through multiple surgeries and bone marrow transplants; dozens of chemotherapy treatments; and a cancer relapse in 2011. As of June 26, 2013, almost exactly four years after her original diagnosis, Arianna’s body shows no evidence of disease (NED), or as her family calls it: “cancer-free.”
“It truly is a miracle,” said Lori Zucker, Arianna’s mother. “We were all jumping up and down and she (Arianna) looked at be like she couldn’t believe what I was saying.”
After meeting Ari (below) at the Kids Rock Cancer benefit concert, it was hard to believe that she had finished a chemotherapy treatment just hours earlier. From the moment she arrived at the Sheldon Concert Hall, she had a smile on her face, dancing in her sparkling light-up boots and laughing like a typical seven-year-old. She was a joy to be around; her happiness an positive outlook undoubtedly leaves a lasting impact on everyone she encounters, myself included.
“That’s how she looks at everything, she’s such a positive person,” Zucker said. “She has this effect on people. She doesn’t realize it, but as parents we watch. It’s amazing to see the effect she has on others.”
Although she still has to undergo a few more rounds of chemotherapy, Zucker says Ari is looking forward to dancing, swimming, being around friends, and going to school cancer-free.
Photos by: Lori Zucker (left), Suzy Gorman (right)
“We feel every day is a blessing,” she said. “Every day that she is here and healthy and happy… the more people out there who are aware of childhood cancer and able to support organizations like these (Kids Rock Cancer), that’s one step in the right direction.”