There is one room in the Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital oncology ward where there are no doctors, no beds and no mention of cancer.
Instead, every Wednesday morning, it is full of seriously ill children who clap their hands, sing and laugh.
This is the music therapy room, an essential part of the hospital’s oncology care.
Music therapist Lauren Miller designs her sessions to give patients back part of their childhood pre-diagnosis.
“It connects them to their healthy self and provides some normalisation to the hospital experience,” she said.
“It’s the familiarity of activities and knowledge from what life was like before their diagnosis.
“Quite often you see this little snippet of the person they were before they came in here.”
From fear to comfort: A 2yo’s experience
At a regular music therapy session, two-year-old Harvey came into the room screaming and clinging to his mother.
“I’m not inside Harvey’s head but from watching him it looked like he was unsure what was happening. He was probably expecting a procedure but he looked pretty terrified,” Ms Miller said.
“So I thought if I could provide a bit of music it might give him some context that he was coming into what I hope was a safe environment for him.”
As Ms Miller strummed her guitar and began singing the regular hello song that each week’s session opens with, Harvey’s crying softened and he lay against his mother’s chest with one eye observing the rest of the room singing.
Music therapist Lauren Miller works with children in the oncology department.