Treatment options at SLU Cancer Center include music therapy

ST. LOUIS – Crystal Weaver and Andrew Dwiggins are therapists without lab coats. Weaver was hired to kick of the music therapy program at the St. Louis University Cancer Center in June 2011. As a result, patients visiting find their treatment plan could include music if they choose.

“The music is a tool like all those other tools that we utilize in healthcare. We use music to help people be more relaxed, to be more calm,” Weaver said.

The pair visited Tommy from Berryville, Arkansas, who was first diagnosed 12 years ago with Hodgkin Lymphoma. Tommy understands that a weakened immune system isolates the patient when hospitalized.

“And they come in and they play and they sing for you, and it takes so much of the anxiety away, and calms you down. It makes you feel good,” Tommy said.

Dwiggins, who joined Weaver the second year of the program, is used to making people feel good. His teenage rock band toured the country and had one of their songs recorded by Melissa Etherege. But his work is different now.

“I will cherish those memories, but the meaning and the fulfillment that I get out of what I am able to do here, that I feel lucky enough to do here, is far greater,” he said.

The music therapists get to know the patient and their musical tastes. In its six year history, approximately 900 patients have met these therapists. SLU Cancer Center's music therapy program is just one of many organizations supported by the St. Louis Men's Group Against Cancer.