Music therapy offers patients escape from hospital stay

Music therapists play music, teach instruments, helps patients compose music

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Brittany Naylor, who has cancer, is a patient at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor every three weeks for treatment.

Naylor, 20, has neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. Each hospital stay lasts about a week.

"I've been getting better. As a matter of fact, my tumor is more than half as small as it was when I first got here," Naylor said. 

Earlier this year, Naylor met Tasha, a fellow patient and they quickly became friends.

"She is just one in a million," Naylor said.

The two also connected with music, Naylor helped Tasha finish a rap song she was composing with board-certified music therapist Susan Smiddy. 

"She was always in pain and just she wanted something to tell people to be positive. Don't let this bother you, you have to keep going, like, do not give up, like, your hair can grow back, like, it doesn't even matter what you look like on the outside, it's about what's on the inside," Naylor said. 

Before the friends could record the song together, Tasha passed away.   It's called Tasha's Song now and Brittany recorded it in honor of her friend.

"At the end of her life she said, 'You need to live in the moment, because you only have that moment,'" Naylor said. 

With the music therapists at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, patients can listen to music, play instruments, sing or compose songs.  Music therapy helps patients cope with their hospital stay, tests and procedures, relax and refocus from pain, lower anxiety and stress, be creative and connect with their family and caregivers.

"Writing, this is the only way I can really get out, like how I feel about stuff. I get like emotional and then I just let it all out on paper and just try to make it rhyme," Naylor said. 

Naylor is working on new songs, including one that honors Tasha's memory and their friendship.

"For Brittany, its been really putting words to the emotions and putting music to those feelings and really developing that trust and putting it to music " Smiddy said. "I love seeing patients feel empowered and helping them get those emotions out and sharing their stories because they're so strong and they've been through so much that just being able to share that with other people and being in the hospital can be very isolating."

Naylor said music really helps her get through her days at the hospital.

"Music is great in that it reaches the conscious so it can reach those parts of the brain that nothing else can," Smiddy said. "It gives them something else to focus on, something else to think about . It's different than anything else in the hospital."

For more information on C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, click here

Naylor also has a GoFundMe account to help pay medical bills.

She also has an Instagram account -- here.

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