Health Team

9-year-old patient pens song about cancer battle

A 9-year-old girl has discovered the healing power of music while at the North Carolina Children's Hospital.

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Music has the power to heal.

That's the theory behind the music therapy program at the North Carolina Children's Hospital. And one 9-year-old cancer patient has proven that true by becoming a budding songwriter.

In April, Eleanor Bothwell, of Raleigh, had surgery for bone cancer in her left arm and has since undergone chemotherapy. Through all that, she spent a lot of time in her room at UNC Hospitals.

And there, one day, inspiration struck.

"I just got bored one day, and I decided to write a song," Eleanor said.

The song that poured out of her – entitled "'Cause You Are Yourself" – is about Eleanor's experience battling cancer: "You feel the hurt inside you. It's wanting to come out," she sings.

Eleanor is among the children who work three days a week with UNC music therapist Elizabeth Fawcett.

"She comes down, and it makes me feel better," Eleanor said. "It makes me feel like I am cared about."

Fawcett said her only regret about the program is that there's only enough funding for her to be there 19 hours a week.

"Kids like Eleanor want me here everyday, and, unfortunately, I can't be," Fawcett said.

However, the Rock Against Cancer program has given $20,000 to expand UNC's music therapy program. The organization has helped a handful of similar programs around the country.

Fawcett helps young patients discover their musical talents, such as playing an instrument or banging away on the drums. Or, as in Eleanor's case, songwriting.

"It's an amazing song, and I think it will be great to share with other kids if she's up to it," Fawcett said.

Eleanor said she feels "proud" about her song but doesn't know if it signals the beginning a musical career. For now, she just wants to get home and play with her dog, Eleanor said.

From the N.C. Children's Hospital, she'll take a lesson that she set to song: "You are yourself, and you're gonna be all of your life."


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