Young Cancer Patients in Venezuela Play Music to Ease Suffering

Created: 2013-07-09 18:18 EST

Category: World > South America
For Venezuelan children receiving cancer treatment, picking up violins, drums and flutes in the hospital is helping them forget about their pain and feel more at home.
In the Jose Manuel de Los Rios Children's Hospital in Caracas, patients like nine-year-old Emily Aponte Teran are taking music classes through the "Soul of the Plains" Hospital Care Program. 
Aponte was diagnosed with cancer six months ago, and has been undergoing chemotherapy. 
Fifteen-year-old Rafael Rendon has been receiving treatment for osteosarcoma—an aggressive type of bone cancer—and had to have his right leg amputated due to his illness.
He has learned to play the "redoblante", a drum, and the "cuatro", a four-stringed guitar-like instrument popular in Venezuelan music.
[Rafael Rendon, Participant in Hospital Care Program]:
"You feel excited when you're playing, you forget that you're getting treatment, what the doctors are telling you, or that something hurts." 
Also diagnosed with osteosarcoma, Crisvan Reyes, 11, has learned to play the flute and the drums.
[Crisvan Reyes, Participant in Hospital Care Program]:
"Despite the disease, I say, 'well, this is happening to me, this is a way to continue living and to learn. It's wonderful to be here and have this opportunity to play music.'" 
Children can take lessons in the hospital classroom or in their rooms. 
When they are discharged, they have the opportunity to continue their musical studies in orchestral centres closer to their homes.
[Marlon Franco, Director, Hospital Care Program]:
"It's amazing how fast they learn compared to a child who’s regularly with their families, because they’re here all day with their instruments and it’s the only thing they have to hold on to, something different to do, giving them something to continue to live for, because they want to get better, because they want to learn and play something else." 
Franco says the goal is to form an orchestra of hospitalized children in the future, and also to extend the program across the country.