Hospital offers singing lessons to patient with cancer


NOS NewsSaturday, 6:41 PM

Those who have been diagnosed with cancer often receive heavy treatments such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy. To mitigate the consequences of this, the Meander Medical Center in Amersfoort has started a trial with singing therapy. The idea is to promote the mental recovery of cancer patients in particular.

“This program can provide supportive care for patients,” says oncology nurse Marianne van Dam of the Meander Medical Center. “You meet like-minded people, you are not alone with your illness and you can follow it in your own safe environment.”

People who have or have had cancer often suffer from complaints such as fatigue, nausea, pain, shortness of breath, stress and anxiety. “We therefore offer these singing exercises online,” says artistic director Anne-Christine Wemekamp of the a cappella singing group Wishful Singing. “That was necessary in corona times, but it also offers a solution now. Anyone undergoing chemotherapy feels bad and has no energy to go out. This way you can still get in touch with fellow sufferers at home and be busy with your breathing, body and voice.”

Rahayu Helweg from Amersfoort is recovering from metastatic colon cancer. She is one of the first participants in online singing therapy:

Singing lessons for cancer patients: ‘It gives a sense of belonging’

Research shows that the ‘breathing dysregulation’ has decreased in the singing program for lung covid patients – in which about 1800 people have now participated. So people can better control their breathing.

Patient Rayahu Helweg, who has been treated for cancer, learned to breathe through her abdomen again in the first lessons. “That’s the added value for me: reconnecting with your body. I didn’t want to be where my illness was, so deep abdominal breathing was very difficult for me. I hadn’t breathed there for four years.”

In addition to the pleasure of singing, the group feeling and the breathing techniques, it also has therapeutic added value for Helweg. “Letting my voice sound, so not talking but singing, that has a healing and connecting effect. I walk through the house singing and I sit on my bike singing. How beautiful and liberating is that? It reminds me to be a healthy person again.”