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Songs for Fighting Cancer

When the cancer patients on the hemoncology floor at Seattle Children’s Hospital decided to make a music video one day, they intended to lighten the mood and let off a little steam. But they also found a huge audience.

The video features young patients lip-syncing, loudly—if that’s possible—along to the Kelly Clarkson hit “Stronger.” As of this writing, it has garnered more than 2 million YouTube viewers, including Clarkson herself.

“Everybody’s been watching it and talking to me about it,” Clarkson said in a video response to the hospital. “It’s so beautiful and so meaningful. Thank you all for sharing it with us.”

Music is no cure for cancer. But musicians are helping to alleviate the pain of cancer treatments while raising money and awareness. In the last year, two new Seattle organizations have emerged to do this work: the Melodic Caring Project and Thrive Through Cancer.

Thrive Through Cancer has staged concerts with local artists such as Bryan John Appleby and MXPX to raise patient spirits while also raising money for non-medical needs—rent, utilities, groceries. The Melodic Caring Project has been doing hosting similar concerts, beaming the performances to young patients who are too sick to leave their hospital beds.

The Project started last summer when musician Levi Ware was asked to help organize a concert for an 11-year-old girl with cancer named Katie. When Ware found out Katie couldn’t make it to the show, he decided to stream the performance, in real time, to Katie’s bedside at Children’s Hospital. The performance raised more than $5,000 and gave Katie hope.

“Any kind of outside influence on her had been taken away because of her situation,” Ware says. “Giving her friends, family and this community of musicians a means by which to reach in and support her while she was going through that, while she was stuck in quarantine, to me was definitely more impacting than the money.”

Shortly after the concert for Katie, Ware and his wife, Stephanie, founded the Melodic Caring Project, which officially launched in March. The couple has been raising money while streaming live performances by various Seattle acts—including the Local Strangers, Sean McGrath, Camille Bloom and Alessandra Rose—to young cancer patients across the country. This month the Project will beam performances from stages at the Fremont Fair and Love Fest Northwest, where Casper Babypants will perform.

“Music is proven to raise endorphin levels, to lower certain hormone levels that are attributed to stress and anxiety and that sort of thing,” Ware says. “But like I say, what we are is rock shows for kids. We want these kids to be excited, and be happy, and in the situation they’re in, that’s medicine, man.”

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