Amazing Grace in fine voice after cancer fight
IT may not cure cancer but a consultant oncologist has prescribed music to 200 people who are fighting the disease.
The 'Something to Sing About' choir was formed for patients with a cancer diagnosis. It its now based in six centres across Galway and Mayo.
A choir of cancer survivors in Australia has just joined the network, while choirs at the Sloane Kettering Cancer Centre in New York and at six breast cancer centres in the UK are also anxious to join forces.
Daniel O'Donnell has been so inspired by the movement that he is now their patron.
The choir was formed last year by Dr Paul Donnellan, a consultant medical oncologist at Galway University Hospital, and its membership includes cancer survivors aged from seven to 84.
"Anybody with a diagnosis of cancer is eligible to join this choir," said Dr Donnellan.
"You may be somebody who has been given the green light, in complete remission, or you might be somebody who has recently completed their chemotherapy or have to live with the disease long term.
"We all know that music is good for the heart, the mind and it's good for the soul, but in fact there is increasing evidence that it might actually be good for the body as well and that people might not just feel happier by engaging with the music, but actually live longer as well.
"It certainly seems to help cope with the side-effects of treatment, such as chemotherapy and by doing so perhaps help the outcomes also."
The youngest member of the choir, seven-year-old Grace Kenneally, is eagerly looking forward to her first major public performance at NUI Galway's Bailey Allen Hall on Easter Sunday.
Grace has been suffering from neuroblastoma for the past couple of years and has just completed 13 months of treatment.
Grace's mother Eithne said: "It has been great for her and her special song of course is 'Amazing Grace' which she sings."
The choir has just won an Astellas 'Changing Tomorrow' award, which recognises the achievements of health professionals.
Seamus Leonard, the choir's musical director said: "Winning the award has given all the choir members and volunteers a huge boost.
"Just a few short months ago, this was just the germ of an idea and now we have won our first award."