On the Oncology floor at a local hospital, a nurse called me over to her station to tell me that one of her patients, Thomas, had chosen Comfort Care after learning that his cancer had metastasized in his bones. She then shared how Thomas’ left femur had shattered last week as he tried to stand with his walker at home. In the ensuing fall, Thomas also fractured his left shoulder. Now, Thomas and his care team were utilizing pain meds and looking for non-pharmaceutical interventions that would control his pain, but leave him alert enough to still interact with his family and friends. The nurse said, “Your music is exactly what he needs this morning.”
When I introduced myself to Thomas and his wife, he eagerly accepted my offer to play for him and I invited him to close his eyes and let the music help him relax. As I began, Thomas’ wife began sharing stories about their family and their struggles with Thomas’ illness. But after Thomas had drifted off to sleep, she seemed to immerse herself in the music and was content to quietly hold his hand.
As I played “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” Thomas opened his eyes and began to sing. Then his eyes filled with tears and he proclaimed, “I know that I am never alone and that God is and will continue to be with me every step of the way until I see him face to face.” Thomas’ wife then shared how she and Thomas were Christians and that their faith had already carried them through some very dark seasons. Then Thomas asked, “Would you happen to know any old hymns?” I smiled as I began to play “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” For the next 20 minutes, I was privileged to lead Thomas and his wife in a season of worship.
At the end of our session, Thomas told me that he knew that pain was going to be a constant for the rest of his life and that there were still many tears to shed. But in spite of his trials, he said that he was at peace. He then thanked me for the music that had allowed him to forget about his pain while reminding him of the hope that lies before him.
There are some amazing medications out there to help us with all kinds of medical issues, but music is often able to provide healing that no pharmacist or chemist will.