By Mike Bush
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - There's a new rhythm at Cardinal Glennon Children's medical center and it has young patients singing a different tune.
"It feeds her soul. It really does," says Lori Zucker.
Seven-year-old Arianna Dougan, Zucker's daughter, is writing a song with music therapist Tracie Sandheinrich.
"It's just using that art of distraction to keep their mind off of what they're going through here," says Sandheinrich.
What Arianna is going through is yet another round of chemotherapy.
Children are supposed to be born in hospitals, but Arianna has practically grown up in one.
"She was 2½, "says Zucker, "and she started having leg pain."
After months of tests, doctors delivered the devastating diagnosis: Stage 4 Neuroblastoma.
"Your legs start to buckle," says Zucker. "It's the worst thing you want to hear."
Neuroblastoma is a ruthless cancer that develops in the nerve cells and usually spreads to other parts of the body before it's discovered.
Since she was three-years-old, the Bob Costas Cancer Center at Cardinal Glennon has been Arianna's home away from home. She's been through 23 rounds of chemotherapy.
"You know we don't talk about the big picture," says Zucker, "and we don't talk about what's going to happen the next time and we just try to talk about how we're going to try to get you better."
So while getting chemo on this particular day, Arianna is working with Tracie as part of a program through Maryville University called Kids Rock Cancer.
"Our theory is medicine heals the body and music heals the soul," says project director Peggy Musen.
During a two hour session, the music therapist helps the patient express her own thoughts about what she's been going through. Those thoughts then become lyrics to an original composition.
"They get to pick and choose," says Sandheinrich. "Do they want their song to be fast or slow? Rock and Roll? Or country sounding?"
Arianna decided that the name of her song should be, "You Can Get Through It."
What does Arianna want people to know about this?
"That they can get through (cancer)," she says.
After writing the song, they sing and record it. When lyrics come from the heart, they often touch yours.
And when the session is over, Arianna gets a CD to take home and play anytime she wants.
"The song is about helping other people," says Zucker. "And I'm really proud of her for being able to share what she knows."
"I'm going to think about the song, "Arianna says. "And other kids who have cancer."
No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but clearly today brought joy and accomplishment for Arianna. Kids Rock Cancer is providing a great escape and a sense of harmony, a treatment that's hitting all the right notes.