Woman shares the 'healing power of music' at children's Hospital

Woman shares the 'healing power of music' at children's Hospital

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by Maggie O'Mara

Bio | Email | Follow: @maggiektvb7

KTVB.COM

Posted on March 5, 2012 at 9:34 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 12:32 PM

BOISE -- The healing power of music.  Research shows it really does make a difference when it comes to battling an illness.

At St. Luke's Children's Hospital, kids who are fighting childhood cancer are reaping the benefits of a very special music therapist.  Born and raised in Boise, Stephanie Leavell moved back after getting her certification in Boston just to bring music therapy to children who live here. 

At St. Luke's, they call Stephanie "an angel with a guitar."

"I just love my job, I can't tell you enough about how much I love my job," she said.

She is a certified music therapist and for more than one year, she's been working with kids who are battling cancer.

"It's a really interesting mix of celebrating the good days for children with cancer, and then helping them through the hard days," said Stephanie.  "Some kids come to the hospital and immediately say where's Stephanie?"

She works with kids like 5-year-old Brooklyn McKerchie.

"She came in this morning and said I have a song!" said Leavell.

Brooklyn has been working with Stephanie since she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia one year ago.

"She was terrified, she was just diagnosed and she hated the hospital," said Brooklyn's mom, Holly McKerchie.  "Stephanie came in and was the first one to get her to talk to her, and she just loves Stephanie."

"It's kind of fun working with her, because we are kind of best friends," Brooklyn said about Stephanie. "Kind of makes me feel happy and fun!"

The same goes for 8-year-old Lula Coe.  Her mom says she just loves music!   Lula was diagnosed with a Whilms tumor in December.

"Stephanie is the one person, when we see her coming, it doesn't matter if she's feeling sick from the chemo, if Stephanie's rolling through, she comes in and wants to play," said Lula's mother, Katie Coe. 

"It's just easier for them to get through their day to day, and they are here all the time, it's hard for them, it's hard for their families," Stephanie explained.

"It's just great having her here, the kids light up!" said Penny Schwartz, a pediatric oncology nurse.  "She really has a special rapport with the kids."

Stephanie works at St. Luke's four days a week.  But it was not easy to bring music therapy to the hospital.  Thanks to community donations, she is funded through December.  She is hoping to get more funding to stay on board after that.

"Oh I hope this is a forever position.  Seeing the kids go from being afraid of being in the hospital, to really being confident and strong, watching that shift in kids is worth it, worth all of it," said Stephanie.

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