Last June, Henry Kaufman was like most 9-year-old boys his age. He was enjoying summer break — playing in soccer tournaments, practicing swimming in the morning, competing in swim meets in the evening, and attending basketball camp during the day. To say he was busy, energetic, and lively would be an understatement.
But Henry’s busy life all changed on June 16, 2017. His mom, Denise, felt a lump on Henry’s neck and immediately took him to the doctor’s office. Within hours he was admitted to the ER. After several tests, and just three days later, Henry was diagnosed with T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. For the next 30 days, Henry remained in the hospital in order to receive his intense, life-saving first round of chemotherapy.
Though stuck in the hospital and receiving harsh and debilitating medications, Henry never complained. However, the physical demands of chemotherapy took its physical and mental toll. Some of the medication he received made him weak and tired and others, namely steroids, made him feel sad and not his usual outgoing and positive self. However, thanks to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Music Therapy program, Henry was given the opportunity to forget about his diagnosis for a little bit and focus on things that made him happy — music in particular.
In August, Henry met Nathan Mensah, Board-Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC), and together the two would talk about their shared love of music and even jam together. “The first time I was called in to see Henry, he was pretty down,” Nathan says. “But, we worked on our relationship first. He and I got talking, and we realized quickly we both loved many different types of music. I learned he is incredibly active and well-rounded in and outside of sessions. Besides sports, he had participated in the musical The Music Man.”
Nathan’s goal as a music therapist is to help patients work on their goals, feel better, and ultimately reduce stress and anxiety so their body can heal. “There’s no better way to keep someone happy, reduce stress, ease emotional pain and anxiety, than through the self-expression of a song. By engaging in songs, patients are having fun — which is healing,” Nathan says.
Music Cheers Henry Up
Henry’s mom, Denise, saw the positive impact playing and hearing music had on Henry as well. “Even if Henry is having a really rough day, music cheers him up. He enjoys it.” So when Nathan approached Denise and Henry to collaborate on a song together for Hear The Hope, Henry jumped at the opportunity — he even had some feedback for improvements to make the song better!
Since Henry is still receiving chemo and can’t attend school or go out in public, Hear the Hope came to him when it was time to record this month’s song, “Hold On.” Henry plays percussion on the song written for and about him by his friend and music therapist, Nathan. After hearing the song for the first time, Henry simply said, “I liked it.”
Denise says that the song has already done its work. “It’s made him smile. It’s made him feel special. Most of all, when it’s played and heard by others, it will make him happy to know he’s helping others. If this helps other families going through what we’re going through, I know it will make him very happy. Henry enjoys life. He enjoys music. He enjoys people and helping others. Being part of this has been wonderful. It has given him something to look forward to and something to do.”
One might say, it’s given him a chance to hold on.
Henry is still fighting the good fight and still has more rounds of chemo to endure. If you want to follow Henry’s journey to healing, you can follow him by clicking here.
To download the full version of Nathan Mensah’s song for Henry, click the download button above.