Harpist helps patients during chemo treatment

- Treating cancer can be stressful and down right frightening, with hours spent sitting and getting life-saving chemo drips.

HonorHealth in Scottsdale has teamed up with a non-profit to help make the hours spent in the hospital, just a bit more relaxing and calming.

It's therapeutic, for the people.

"I've been a musician ever since the fourth grade, but I learned the harp to do this work, specifically to do this work," said Jocelyn Obermeyer.

It's a job that Obermeyer takes very seriously. The professional harpist is not playing in a concert hall, or some fancy venue, but here in the cancer center at HonorHealth in Scottsdale.

Terry Bolling has spent more hours than she cares to remember on this floor, sitting quietly, listening to the harp music, as cancer-fighting drugs enter her body.

"I went through six months of chemotherapy and with the pet scan five weeks ago, no active cancer. I'm now on maintenance, I'm on oral chemo, it's like yes!" said Terry Bolling.

"It takes your mind off everything except the music, and you can go somewhere else, it's very nice," she said.

In a place like this they say the music helps them reflect, takes them to a happy time when there're some big struggles.

Jocelyn is one of a handful of harpists who work for the therapeutic harp foundation, a non-profit.

"What I do is bring the harp and the music brings comfort, reduces pain, reduces anxiety to the people that I work with," said Obermeyer.

It's a job she said she was destined to do.

"I used to be a principal of a school, and one of the parent volunteer coordinators got cancer, and a harpist came and played for her when she was in the palliative care unit, and she told me how much it spoke to her, and it healed her on the inside; emotionally and spiritually. She said out of everything that happened to her in that journey, when the harp music came it put her in a place that nothing else could, and it kept knocking at my heart to do it, to learn the harp, and so I did, and now this is what I do," she said.

Obermeyer learned to play the harp in a year, and now spends a few hours a week playing for the patients.

"In a setting such as this, I'm watching their breathing, and I'm playing my pulse to match their breathing," said Obermeyer.

Each strum of the strings, calms nerves, and eases the pain.

"The music does the speaking, we observe, and then we let this do the speaking, and that's exactly what it is all about," she said.

This has been a banner year for the therapeutic harp foundation, at the end of the year they will have played for over 100,000 individuals in 15 different valley locations.
 


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