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I received a visit from Music Therapy at this week’s infusion. These Monday appointments for my newest line of treatment have already become routine, and I nap, read, or snack, alone and distracted by the smartphone, or just bored when the pre-meds start to wear off.

When Bob asked if I’d like to hear some songs, I said “Yes! Does anyone refuse?”

He played a jazzy version of “Georgia on my Mind,” a John Prine ballad, some pretty Beatles tunes and a terrific ballad by Guy Clarke called “The Cape” that was new to me.

Now, he’s old and gray with a flour sack cape tied all around his head
And he’s still jumpin’ off the garage and will be till he’s dead
All these years the people said, he was actin’ like a kid
He did not know he could not fly and so he did

Have you noticed how any moment can be elevated by live music, and somehow, you feel special? I think it’s because the performance keeps you in the moment, for a little while. You want to listen to the lyrics, or the beautiful sound of a Martin guitar or a lovely voice. You forget the boredom, the worry, the “everyday everything,” and you are just present for that bit of time.

I guess that’s the point of the therapy, right? So, now I’ll ask: Can I make this happen a little more often? What can I do to be a bit more present in the moments of my life, even those, like right now, where, honestly, if I pay attention to how I feel, I have to say that my health is a concern. Three-quarters of the way through January, and the winter of back-to-back viruses still seems like it will never end.

That’s my immunity. I am paying attention to it, and trying to nurture it as best as I can. It’s a challenge to accept that I do not fully control it, and even if I didn’t have cancer I would still never really have full control, since nobody does. You must accept the role you can play, and be aware of moments when your choices can lead to the most amount of personal peace. This means, not just the obvious things, like food, rest, and hygiene, but also, letting go of the distractions that can make you miserable, or make you obsess about sickness all of the time.

“You must accept the role you can play, and be aware of moments when your choices can lead to the most amount of personal peace.”

This musical reminder, that all I have to do is pay attention, is helping me to acknowledge that some of the aspects of this life are painful, scary, lonely, dark and even boring. Others are insightful, enjoyable, elevating and gratifying. By paying attention to those feelings I can keep on wringing the most out of this life, today, right here, in this moment.

Diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2010, Suzanne received induction chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant in 2011 followed by ongoing medical therapy as part of a clinical trial. She has been a Support Volunteer since 2013.