Songs With a Message

A note from Tracie Sandheinrich, MT-BC, Senior Music Therapist for Kids Rock Cancer

It has been an inspiring journey over the past six years helping children, teens and young adults write songs about living with cancer and blood disorders. Through a small research study, we were intrigued when we discovered the similarities of content and themes between songs. Even though diagnoses and care plans are different among all participants, we found that these “one-of-a-kind” songs represented the truest form of one’s originality, self-expression and creativity, all the while sharing a similar story with others who are undergoing treatment.

Over time, we found that it was easy to lump these songs into categories based on the subject matter of songs. The most common categories included compositions written about symptoms, loss, friends and family, and reframing and feelings of hope. No matter the diagnosis, age, ethnicity or treatment regimen, it seemed most children were battling very comparable feelings about their own experiences.


Songs about symptoms often reference: Pain, physical reactions to medicines/procedures, physical complications due to treatment (ie. nausea, loss of appetite).


Songs about loss often reference: Things kids miss about home, school, everyday activities they can no longer participate in; deep, emotional feelings about the “here and now” to signify their lack of control over their environment.

Friends and family

Songs about friends and family often reference: Specific individuals, personal pets, a circle of support from friends.

Reframing and feelings of hope

Songs about reframing and feelings of hope often reference: Sending out a positive message to other patients/families, helping to motive others to live happier and healthier, no matter the obstacles.

Kids Rock Cancer has recognized the importance and uniqueness of the songs composed within a therapeutic songwriting session and because so, have created compilation CDs to give to newly diagnosed patients and families even if they chose not to participate. This continues to be an ongoing support system of sharing similar thoughts and experiences so no child ever feels alone in this ongoing battle. Each child has a song and each song has a message.