Through the Arts in Healing program of the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, local musicians are playing twice weekly for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Brown Cancer Center is the only cancer facility in Kentucky to offer the program.

Cellist Wayne Krigger, harpist Lorinda Jones and flutist Greg Acker will perform solo sets for patients, said Cesar Rodriguez, MD, of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Division, who brought the program to the cancer center.

The music program stems from a program in Rodriguez’s unit.

“We initiated a pilot program of music in our Chemotherapy Infusion Unit and the Bone Marrow Clinic, and the feedback was overwhelming. Our patients were enthusiastic in their support of the program, so we decided to launch the program permanently,” Rodriguez said.

Research has documented the healing benefits of music. The University of Rochester Medical Center conducted one study in which patients who underwent bone-marrow transplants reported less pain and nausea after listening to music. The researchers looked at 42 patients, ages 5 to 65, who were being treated for various types of cancer, including leukemias, lymphomas and solid tumors.

Half the patients listened to music after their transplants and the rest received standard follow-up care. The study revealed that patients who had music as part of their treatment reported significantly less pain and nausea. Before the sessions, they rated their pain and nausea as severe, but after the sessions only moderate.

“The Kentucky Center is very proud to count the James Graham Brown Cancer Center as a partner in bringing the healing power of the arts, and particularly, music to their patients,” said Kristin Hughes, Arts in Health manager at KCPA. “Arts in Healing in the Chemotherapy Infusion Unit and the Bone Marrow Clinic has been very successful — a win-win for patients, families, artists and staff alike.”

The Arts in Healing program gets support from the M. Krista Loyd Cancer Resource Center at the Brown Cancer Center, the Humana Foundation and the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts Endowment Fund.

Jill Scoggins is Director of Communications at UofL's Louis D. Brandeis School of Law. She has been at UofL since 2010.