By Heather Brown
Music is powerful to me. It gives me energy to move, to feel, and to relax. Even on days when my energy is low, when I hear music, I am motivated to get moving along to the music and sing loudly. But it can also comfort me on tough days when my emotions are high and I need to help calm myself. It is a great strategy for me to help manage when I feel anxiety setting in.
I have always been a music lover for as long as I can remember. I enjoy listening to a range of genres of music, but I especially love listening to my fav boybands and ’90s and 2000s music. I love listening to my music loud, whether it is in the car on the way to or from work or at home when I am cleaning or baking.
Thinking back throughout my cancer experience, certain songs took on a new meaning after I received my cancer diagnosis. These songs were written to express someone’s struggle and strength, but there was a deeper element of these songs that I wasn’t connecting to. After my diagnosis, I had a new understanding of the words or feelings that the songs were conveying. I especially resonated with a couple of Rachel Platten’s songs, like “Fight Song” and “Stand By You.” I would listen to these songs on repeat, connecting with each word on a deeper level. These songs often brought tears to my eyes as I sang along. It made me think about my cancer experience and experiences of family, friends, and fellow YACCers. After reflecting on it, I can see that these songs helped me process some of the feelings and parts of my cancer experience — the good and the tough parts. When I find it hard to explain how I felt, I could use songs and lyrics to help me express the feeling I was trying to convey. It has helped me to see how I have grown from my diagnosis almost five years ago to the person that I am now.
A couple of years ago, fellow YACCers assembled a “cancer related” Spotify music playlist of a variety of songs. This playlist had songs that spoke about some overarching topics, including someone’s cancer experiences, other illness, struggle, loss, strength, beauty, and/or love. I loved this opportunity to hear songs that aren’t necessarily in my own music playlist but that I could connect to now. It was powerful to listen to songs that other YACCers felt connected to, it helped me to feel more connected to what other YACCers were experiencing.
On days when I feel anxious or when I am facing scanxiety, music is my first tactic to help ease my mind. After belting out songs in the car en route to appointments, I feel lighter and more prepared to embrace the test or procedure, and like I can make it to the other side of what is creating these feelings. I go back to my music post-procedure or appointment as a way to help relax my body so that I can move on with my day.
So, listen to music — songs that already speak to you and some new songs, too! Don’t underestimate the benefits of listening to music. On both the extra tough days and the days to celebrate, whether you need to move, release emotion, be inspired, or feel connected, I encourage you to push play and see where the music takes you.