I've been receiving chemotherapy for Stage 3 Breast Cancer for seven weeks now and I'm happy to report that my body is responding to the treatment really, really well. It's rough, though, and I'd say that I've been pretty useless for half of those seven weeks, because the side effects of chemo are pretty debilitating. There is nothing I can do but ride it out.
What has helped me endure all of this is MUSIC! I have loved music all of my life, and have made it a priority that kids in our schools continue to participate in our orchestra and band programs, produced through the Children's Music Workshop, in spite of the recession, because frankly, music saves lives.
What has kept me going for the past few years, as I try and keep my and my nonprofit's heads above water, are those precious kids whose lives have literally been turned around by being able to play in the school band or orchestra. Some of the kids who have benefited come from homes where they have witnessed unspeakable acts of violence and cruelty. I think of these kids whenever the Status Quo has suggested that my, and many other small arts education nonprofits, are well meaning, but that our efforts are small in comparison to theirs. Whenever I have been insulted like this, I think of our kids. Knowing that a few kids' lives have been changed for the better is good enough for me. I don't need, or want, the Status Quo's approval.
After all it's boasting and bullying, the Status Quo has announced that it will cut 100% of its elementary arts programming, which it has been bragging about for the past ten years!!! I'm not at all surprised by this news, but I am disgusted. The kids and the arts lose again, yet the Status Quo lives on.
I can't get too worked up about this, because I need to focus on staying positive for myself so I can keep up the good fight to beat breast cancer. The stress of trying to stay afloat during the recession, and keeping the Status Quo as far away from me and my nonprofit as possible, has taken its toll.
But the music plays on! Arts in Education Aid Council has managed to keep our band and orchestra program going in two schools in the Valley, and I'm very proud of that (all I had to do was find the money to pay for it, the Children's Music Workshop, under the direction of Larry Newman, does all the work). We have received grants from the ASCAP Foundation and the Colburn Foundation for this program and are waiting to hear about another music grant in a month or so. That makes me really happy.
What else makes me really happy is my own, personal sound track that I created, just to help me get through this tough time in my life. I call this playlist, "Best Candy", inspired by my nine year old daughter's desire to change "breast cancer" to "best candy" because breast cancer sounds so creepy and scary (she is the writer in the family!) On my Best Candy playlist is every song that I love so much that it makes me want to stop whatever I am doing, turn it up, and dance. I listen to this playlist every time I get chemo and while I take my daily two mile walks. What happens to me while I listen to my favorite music, is so good, so permeating, so strong, and so joyful, that I know I am being healed in that very moment. I have always felt this way about music, and now I am living proof (pun intended) that music heals. I know it, all musicians and music lovers know it, music educators know it, and music students know it. It's too bad the Status Quo doesn't know it.