I would love to share this as it was very informative, and close to what I do day to day around the hospital wards!
PHOTO: Music therapist Tracie Wicks plays the guitar for terminally ill patient Wayne Miles. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Megan Kinninment)
Wayne Miles has not got the energy to open his eyes, but a faint smile flickers across his face as he silently mouths the words to the John Denver song Some Days Are Diamonds.
The 59-year-old Glasshouse Mountains man is dying from cancer, and amid the pain and grief music provides solace.
The former truck driver's love for country music is being nurtured by music therapist Tracie Wicks.
She sits with him at his bedside, strumming a guitar or playing the keyboard, and crooning Slim Dusty and John Denver songs that fill the dedicated music room in the Dove Palliative Care wing of the Caloundra Hospital.
The Dove music therapy program is funded by community donations to Sunshine Coast Hospital Foundation, Wishlist, and has been operating at the hospital since 2016.
Ms Wicks wheels a piano keyboard and guitar bed-to-bed, but a new music room that opened this year she says has added to the patients' experience.
"It's created a beautiful space for families and patients to come," she said.
As his cancer progresses, Wayne has participated in music therapy on each admission to Dove over the past year, and Ms Wicks has learned his musical tastes.
"In particular he enjoys John Denver, so I played Some Days Are Diamonds — which is very relatable in this situation," she said.
"The other song I played today was Lights on the Hill [by Slim Dusty] which Wayne relates to through his days as a truck driver."
PHOTO: Cancer patient Wayne Miles listens as music therapist Tracie Wicks plays a song for him at the Dove Palliative Care Wing. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Megan Kinninment)
Ms Wicks will have a go at any genre of music a patient requests — from ABBA's Dancing Queen to a Wiggles tune for a young family member.
She has also been asked to belt out Eminem and AC/DC.
"When I work with a patient it's really important to find out what music is meaningful to them," she said.
"I can't say I was that good at rapping Eminem though," she laughed.
Bringing back memories
While listening to music helps patients on a physiological level — reducing the perception of pain and feelings of anxiety by reducing heart rate and stress levels — its impact on an emotional level is profound in a palliative care scenario, Ms Wicks said.
"We know that music is very strongly linked to our memory centre, bringing back memories from our life, and that is often very important for people facing the end of their life," she said.
"To sit back and review your life and think about your achievements and milestones and talk about the people you love.
PHOTO: Ms Wicks has recorded a song with Mr Miles to gift to his wife. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Megan Kinninment)
With her help, Wayne wrote the lyrics to a love song for his wife, Cheryl, titled You Were Meant For Me.
"[The song] expressed their love story and in that he also gave thanks to her for caring for him throughout the past few years, particularly after his diagnosis," Ms Wicks said.
"The last verse he wrote was about saying goodbye and his wishes and hopes for her.
"Wayne actually sang the song himself and we recorded it and were able to gift that to Cheryl — something that becomes a legacy that Wayne is very proud of."
'Having some joy'
For the families of patients in the palliative care wing, music therapy is just as meaningful.
"Sometimes it's just about lifting the mood in the room," Ms Wicks said.
"Often in a session there may be five or more people and people may request songs that they remember together.
"So you are creating new positive memories, and when they look back to this very difficult time in their life hopefully they can remember some of these moments of actually having joy —of sitting around singing or listening to music together."