‘More of who I am’

Megan Brightbill’s musical reviving came at the unlikeliest of times—as she lay in a health care center bed in August 2021 sustaining a few of the worst pain of her life.

It began the day Erin Wegener, a music therapist, walked into her fifth floor covering area at Spectrum Health Butterworth Medical Center bring a guitar.

After wagering Brightbill and noting their shared love of music, Wegener invited Brightbill, 32, to sing with her.

Because she had an individual area, Brightbill concurred.

“I thought, ‘Well, I’m in an area alone, so I won’t be unpleasant any person,’” she mentioned.

“So I kept up and merely sang in addition to her—which was merely the start of something fantastic for me. Because music’s continuously been something that really consults with me, and sharing that with somebody really brought a light back—like, brought me back to myself.”

Finding her voice

Brightbill, a property owner of Kentwood, Michigan, had in fact comprehended Wegener would be referring to see her that day.

She’d signed up for music treatment at the inspiration of a palliative care social staff member, Molly Dollahan, MSW.

Perhaps the music would relieve her increasing tension and stress and anxiety, Brightbill thought—tension and stress and anxiety triggered by debilitating lower discomfort in the back that doctors mentioned may be activated by a cancer reoccurrence, merely 9 months after a squashing breast cancer medical diagnosis.

Brightbill had in fact presumed music treatment would consist of simply listening to music.

Nevertheless as she sang in addition to Wegener’s guitar, her heart divided open.

“I’d been a bit overloaded by the medical diagnosis and whatever,” Brightbill mentioned.

“Having music provided me in a way that allowed me to participate in it rather of merely sit there and listen … got up a lot within me—and things, I believe, weren’t as dark any longer.”

As Wegener strummed, Brightbill sang music from a few of her favored artists.

“Phony” by Noah Cyrus.

Ben Platt’s “So Will I” and “Grow as We Go.”

The lyrics to “So Will I”—a tune Wegener hadn’t heard in the past—struck the therapist as particularly poignant.

“I shared it with other customers after she shared it with me, due to the reality that it discusses how someone in your life is going to be there for you even if you walk through really tough times … something about ‘the stars will fall, nevertheless the world will continuously exist for that reason will I,’” Wegener mentioned.

“Megan merely had a beautiful voice—like, a stunning voice. And I was really struck by how she appeared to have this strength and strength and a good deal of interest in her.”

Customers don’t require to be musical themselves to get a kick out of music treatment, Wegener mentioned.

Nevertheless for those who presently take pleasure in music, it can be particularly handy.

“If music is something that stays in someone’s background or in their life, it can be a really helpful coping capability and a technique to expose yourself and a technique to reduce tension and stress and anxiety or improve your frame of mind,” she mentioned.

“There is a humanness in having the capability to make music together and expose yourself in music…. Possibly it winds up being a little less about a customer and therapist and more about merely experiencing the music together.”

Music therapists make use of a series of musical interventions in their handle customers, Wegener mentioned—including playing instruments, singing, improvising music, assessing lyrics, songwriting and using music for muscle relaxation or structure physical strength.

In her second session with Brightbill, Wegener handed her a ukulele.

Though she’d taught herself to play the instrument early in the coronavirus pandemic, when the preschool where she taught had in fact closed for a time, Brightbill hadn’t touched her ukulele considered that November 2020.

That’s when her breast cancer medical diagnosis emerged, absorbing her energy and time.

Chemotherapy treatments, in advance of an April 2021 lumpectomy, brought difficult unfavorable results, such as hair loss, queasiness and oral thrush.

Mouth sores made speaking so painful that she effectively lost her voice.

“When I was going through my chemo, I would get thrush really extremely, to the point where I couldn’t speak and remained in reality nervous for a number of months that I would never ever get my singing voice back,” Brightbill mentioned.

Now, thanks to Wegener, she felt inspired to return to the ukulele.

“To last but not least, after all these months, sing and be provided a ukulele to play when again—and merely being with someone who not simply is fantastic at playing music nevertheless is so inspiring and motivating… that was amongst the most helpful components of staying in the health care center.”

‘More than our disease’

Brightbill had 3 music treatment sessions prior to she moved to the Inpatient Rehabilitation Center at Spectrum Health Blodgett Medical Center.

There she took part in physical treatment, occupational treatment and leisure treatment as she worked to bring back the motion she’d lost when discomfort in the back prevented her daily program.

Just as her music treatment experience had in fact brought unexpected pleasure to her days at Butterworth University hospital, so leisure treatment brought pleasurable and a sense of normalcy to her time at the Inpatient Rehab Center.

Rec treatment sessions focused on her specific interests and leisure activities rather of her physical challenges. She and her therapist played Scattergories and other word computer game—the type of activities Brightbill gets a kick out of in your home, where she manages her mommy, sis and niece.

After a year of “numerous doctors,” she valued the leisure strategy to care. It helps customers “look like we’re more than our disease or disease,” she mentioned.

Early in her 12-day stay at the Inpatient Rehab Center, Brightbill got an essential piece of news: her severe pain had no link to cancer.

Test results exposed the source of the pain to be compressed nerves and degenerative adjustments in her lower spine.

This indicated that though her scheduled course of treatment for HER2-positive breast cancer would continue—including targeted IV treatment, hormone representative treatment and radiation treatment—she wouldn’t require to widen her cancer treatment regimen.

Rather, she would participate in outpatient physical treatment and have a look at the Spectrum Health Spine & Pain Management Center to pursue other treatment options.

Brightbill comprehends the course forward won’t be easy. Nevertheless having actually revealed today of music in her life, she’s stated it as a constant friend.

“I am in fact making up lyrics and chords down in a music book that I keep so I can play ukulele anywhere I go,” she mentioned.

“It’s brought me back to more of who I am.”