A while back I had the opportunity to provide a group drumming session for a cancer support group in San Antonio. With many of these groups, the folks who regularly attend have already formed some strong relationships which is, of course, one of the great benefits of participating. They are in a position like no other to understand what each other is going through. Cancer patients and caregivers alike are able to provide empathy, support and strength to others going through this difficult time in ways that those who haven’t experienced this dreadful disease can’t. I fall under the category of those who can’t. This can make me an “outsider” when working with this type of group. That being said, this group was fabulous. After a brief feeling out process, they took me in as one of their own. We discussed some of the very difficult challenges that cancer patients and caregivers deal with. They shared their experiences of devastation, but they also shared their discoveries of hope and love. Oh yeah, we also drummed together. How wonderful to be unified with this group of strangers. The drumming was as deep and intense as it was light and playful. The feeling with which they played was inspiring.
When our session was over, we were sharing some small talk when one of the gentlemen (he is a caregiver for his wife) told us that his wife had wanted to be there, but she had been admitted into the hospital earlier that day. He shared with us that when her doctor had made the decision to admit her into the hospital that she was quite angry because she was going to miss their meeting and the drumming session. So, I looked at him and suggested that since she couldn’t be with us that we should take the drums to her. So, four of us picked up some frame drums and I brought my Native American flute and we headed across the parking lot and up to her room. When we entered her room, she was all smiles. She didn’t really know what we were doing. I put a frame drum in her hands, showed her a little bit about how to play it and started them off with a happy, but quiet groove. Once they were comfortable enough to maintain the groove on their own, I played my flute. I played directly to this lady in the hospital bed right in front of me. Her smile and her happy drumming was truly a beautiful sight to see and hear. Also, seeing the joy on her husband’s face; the satisfaction of having been able to provide this short musical excursion for his wife; was wonderful.
While I am not “qualified” to facilitate a cancer support group, music creates bridges between people that can lead to understanding and love. Thank God for the power of music!