Music Therapy Interventions Taking Place at Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center

"You have cancer," is one of the most feared phrases in the English language. Even the thought of it is enough to quicken the pulse and send stress levels on the rise. Imagine, if you can, that this phrase has become your reality. Exactly how can devastating news like this affect our body's ability to keep us healthy? The Cancer Support Community at Orlando Health has the answers.

"When someone first gets a diagnosis of cancer that's all they hear. That phrase keeps repeating over and over again in their head," says Dr. Diane Robison, Director of the Cancer Support Community. "When we're in a situation like this, our stress levels begin to rise, and that stress can become overwhelming which can lead to other problems." In other words, it’s possible a cancer patient will be diagnosed with other issues due to the stress of their circumstances.

Because of this, the Cancer Support Community offers interventions to help combat a patient's stress level as they face the challenges of cancer. And one of those evidence based interventions is Music Therapy, led by Ryan Tonkin.

"I'm humbled, that daily, I get to utilize music and see the positive effect it has on patients dealing with cancer and their families," says Ryan. "Research now shows that music has a direct link neurologically to our brain. Our body hears the music, and the mind releases chemicals that calm us down," this research is a reality for our patients at Orlando Health.

"I had a patient double over on her bed in pain. I played her favorite hymn on my guitar and afterward, while up and walking around the room, she said for that moment she didn't have cancer.", Ryan explains, with a beaming smile.

The music therapy intervention taking place at Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center is clearly making a difference in patient's lives. "I look for evidence-based programs, and I bring them to the hospital because I know they are going to help our patients," exclaims Dr. Robinson, "But nothing captures the magic that happens when you watch the joy on a patient's face. I'm so proud to be a part of this program and lead a great team."

Orlando Health is also proud of the work the Cancer Support Community is doing to better the lives of our patients every day. The program is funded strictly through philanthropic donations from the community, including individuals, grateful patients and corporate partners. To learn how you can help support music therapy and other programs at the Cancer Support Community, please visit