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Music therapy offers comfort to kids at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

When 10-year old Andrew Lawrence had a hard time coping with chemotherapy, his team decided a little music might be just what the doctor ordered.

ATLANTA — At Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, every child, every family has their own unique way of persevering through diagnosis and treatment.

When 10-year old Andrew Lawrence had a hard time coping with chemotherapy at Children's, his team decided a little music might be just what the doctor ordered. 

"Rachel comes in, and she's got all of these instruments. She just lit up his day," Andrew's mom, Amber, explained. "He really took to her. He took to playing guitar."

"The hospital if you think about it, it's already super scary," Rachel Green, a music therapist, explained. "He's getting poked and going to procedures that are not comfortable for any person, let alone a child."

Andrew also has autism spectrum disorder, which can make it even more challenging to understand his treatments at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorder Center at Children's. But Green noticed that music seemed to transform his experience.

"He would come over to me and start strumming the guitar with such enthusiasm and energy," she said. "He would just start singing. He just comes into this new place and absolutely falls in love with the music in the moment, and nothing else matters." 

Such is the hope, that music offers patients like Andrew emotional comfort through the physical discomfort.

"In a vulnerable moment, she came in and changed that vulnerability and made him comfortable," Andrew's dad explained. 

A year after diagnosis amid Childhood Cancer and Sickle Cell Disease Awareness month, Andrew had a chance to show off his strumming and singing skills in the garden at Children's Scottish Rite. 

"Music just holds such a safe place for him throughout all of this," Green explained.