• St. Jude Teams With Love To Heal Cancer

    When I was invited to visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, I was incredibly humbled by the invitation. I was also a little apprehensive. Could I hold it together in the presence of children facing such challenges?

    As I was guided through the hospital, many patients, even infants, were wearing hospital masks. The urge to hug every child was palpable.

    Every inch of the hospital is inspiring and what makes it most memorable are the children and staff. It truly is a happy place. The hospital is set to expand in the next 6 years and with that expansion comes the addition of more talented individuals. Recently, I was lucky enough to speak with one of their dedicated staff members, Amy Love.

    Amy is the first music therapist to join St. Jude. She will be part of the new music room set to open soon.

    At the University of Dayton, Amy earned a bachelor’s degree in music therapy and a minor in psychology. She went on to earn her master’s degree in music therapy from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College. Additionally, she holds certifications in NICU music therapy and neurologic music therapy.

    A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Amy had a deep admiration for St. Jude and their work. She fell in love with pediatrics and was “willing to go anywhere” to be a part of it.

    The list of diseases the hospital researches and treats is impressive. St. Jude has increased the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) from 4% before opening in 1962 to 94% today!

    During treatment, a child can experience different levels of discomfort such as fatigue, depression, and many other side effects.

    “Writing a song with a child is a way for them to cope,” says Amy. “We work with a variety of instruments. We can work on drumming, the guitar, or the ukulele.”

    A young cancer patient, Farrah Courville is playing the drums. Beside her is music therapist, Amy Love playing a guitar.

    (LR) Farrah Courville, Amy Love

     

    Music is healing. To a child suffering from cancer, it can be a day where they may not want to get out of bed. Providing musical therapy to a child requires meticulous planning. Amy consults with a St. Jude specialists to review the patient’s diagnosis and emotional effects. With that, Amy will ask the child what type of music they like.

    “I find ways to work with the child. If the child is at a very young age, then I will invite the family to be part of the musical process. We make it fun and bring in fresh ways to accommodate the child.”

    As I talk with Amy, I remember the moments where I broke down in tears during my visit to the hospital. I asked how she copes. “At times, the children can become very sick and it’s very difficult to cope,” explains Amy.

    “Everyone at St. Jude is wonderful! Self-care is important to all of us. We’re surrounded by a very supportive team.”

    As Amy describes her time with the children of St. Jude, her voice fills with joy and admiration for them. No matter the case, children are resilient and often surprise Amy.

    “Some children want to improv on the spot! The younger ones love to beat box! Depending on their energy level, the creation of a song can begin sadly. But it usually ends up being an upbeat and happy song.”

    Care at St Jude Children’s Hospital is free. With daily operations upwards of $2.2 million, every donation is the key to keeping the hospital going and one day eradicating childhood cancer.

    “One thing is to see their commercials. It’s another when you witness resilience of the children. “The more people support our mission, the more we can have the children express themselves and make their treatment easier. It’s an honor to work at St. Jude,” shares Amy.

    Watch Amy in action here. Learn more about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and join me in supporting their great work.

     

    While playing the guitar, music therapist, Amy Love sits surrounded by her instruments.

    Amy Love

     

    Feature image: (LR) Farrah Courville, Amy Love

     

  • Travel Diary: St. Jude Blog Tour

    There are moments in life, where they stand as “life-changing” moments. My recent trip to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was not only life-changing but meant to be. As a proud St. Jude Blogger Ambassador, I was given the grand opportunity to tour their facility, meet with staff and most of all interact with their patients. Little Giant Life will share future posts and how to give back to this amazing institution. I encourage to share these posts for the sake of curing cancer! Follow me on Instagram for more great photos.

    Here is my photo diary.

    A statue of St. Jude is shown at the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

    St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has treated children from all 50 states and from around the world.

     

    Former cancer patient and current employee, Joel Alsup is standing beside his picture displayed at St. Jude.

    Meet Joel! Our tour guide and former cancer survivor and patient of St. Jude. He now works at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and his smile is contagious!

     

    A brick building is shown as one of the homes for St. Jude cancer patients. Representing hope, a group of elephants made out of grass stand in front of the building.

    The Target House is offered to patients whose treatment is longer than three months.

     

    The entrance to a temporary housing of St. Jude's patients is shown. A statue of a young boy with an umbrella is shown. Words such dance, believe, love, life, courage, joy and smile surround him.

    Inspiration is seen as soon as one walks into the Target House.

     

    Inside the play room of St/ Jude's temporary housing. The ceiling of the Dreamworks is shown. The logo shows a boy fishing while sitting on the moon.

    Patients get to see film release before anyone else does.

     

    Art pieces created by celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Britney Spears and many others.

    Art pieces created by celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Britney Spears and many others.

     

    A hallway is shown with colorful painting and figures.

    Everywhere you turn, there is color to brighten anyone’s day.

     

    Target House features recreation areas for common use, including the Library and Pavilion, the Amy Grant Music Room, the Scott Hamilton Family Fitness Center and arts and crafts room, indoor and outdoor play areas and a garden patio.

    Target House features recreation areas for common use, including the Library and Pavilion, the Amy Grant Music Room, the Scott Hamilton Family Fitness Center and arts and crafts room, indoor and outdoor play areas and a garden patio.

     

    The Target House holds cancer patients and their families. A kitchen is shown.

    St. Jude patients who stay at Target House reflect the full range of the hospital’s population – from babies to teens.

     

    Downtown Memphis with a railway is displayed.

    Memphis was quaint and serene.

     

    A long standing bridge is shown with a clear, blue sky.

    My first time in Memphis gave me more desire to travel!

     

    A card written by a cancer patient reads, "I am thankful for St. Jude and the Target House for giving us hope, rest, fun places. I am thankful.

    Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. To donate, click here.