CT's Songbook

Teen Patient With Guitar At Hospital
CT performs his favorite songs with his music therapist for his graduation celebration at the hospital.
The day after Christmas CT—a vibrant high school senior—was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia by his pediatrician and admitted to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, some five hours from his home in Susanville, California.

CT spent close to year at UCSF Benioff Children’s Oakland for treatment of his leukemia. At age 17, being confined to a hospital room was challenging for this bright young man.

“I wouldn’t have made it without music therapy,” said CT. “It saved me.”

Music therapy provided a way to express feelings: fear, anger, stress, and isolation in a safe non-clinical environment.

“Maya (the music therapist) and I would talk about how I was feeling and we would play a song and sing and I’d feel relieved.”

After working with the therapist, CT's doctor noticed a change in his mood and his attitude toward his treatment. He became much more forthcoming about his fears and aspirations.

His Theme Song

CT would choose a theme song for each part of his treatment:

  • Tom Petty’s, I Won’t Back Down, helped him cope with the difficult treatments.
  • Van Halen’s, Jump, got him going for physical therapy.
  • The Beatles, Here Comes The Sun, reminded him that the sun will always come out and good news is just around the corner.

CT felt so strongly about the benefits of his music therapy sessions that he often joined the music therapist in the hospital playroom. He played his own guitar and sang, lifting everyone’s spirits. “The kids really looked up to CT. They loved having a big kid there singing with them. He [was] a great role model for them," proclaimed, Maya.

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