NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A cancer diagnosis can be both overwhelming and stressful in many ways.
Staying positive and relaxed during treatment is medically beneficial, but very hard to do.
As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, there’s one hospital in the area that’s using music to help patients combat stress.
After a frightening breast cancer diagnosis at 43, Julia Newmark was overwhelmed with anxiety and suffered from insomnia. She turned to music therapy during radiation for relief.
“You worry about the future,” she remembered.
With a young daughter at home, the fear of not surviving was debilitating.
“He taught me how to relax while I was having the music therapy, and to remember those techniques when I was home,” Newmark said.
In the first study of its kind in a hard science journal, Mount Sinai Beth Israel music coordinator Andrew Rosetti researched the benefits of music therapy for cancer patients.
“Created an intervention that uses music and verbal processing to lower anxiety and lower distress,” he said.
From classical to hard rock, they personalize the playlist for each patient. They found it worked so well before, and during treatment patients saw their stress and anxiety drop by at least 20 percent.
“Now I feel like a child that is allowed to play,” Newmark said.
Today, Julia is cancer free but continues the therapy once a week for relaxation.
“It helped me so much through one of the worst moments in my life, and its now helping me with other important aspects of what I do,” she said.
At the top of that list is staying healthy.
While the study looked at reducing stress during cancer treatment, music therapy would likely be as effective during most any stressful medical or life situation, and without unpleasant side effects.