Can music be medicine?
“As health care providers, we often meet people at their greatest time of need,” wrote Dr. Elvis Francois in a Facebook post this week, “and sometimes the best gift you can give is a simple reminder that everything will be alright”.
And what better way to be reminded than through song?
When you’re feeling lowAnd there’s no one aroundWhen it looks like it’s overAnd life’s got you downHold on to me brotherI’ll be there when you needBecause there’s a brighter tomorrow…This I truly believeEverything———EverythingEverything is gonna be alrightSo dry those eyes….it’ll be….alright….——A cover of Mike Yung’s debut single "Alright"——Before he retired the legendary Dr. Franklin Sim once told me….”As a surgeon, it is your responsibility to bear the burden of worry with your patients…..”——As health care providers we often meet people at their greatest time of need….and sometimes the best gift you can give is a simple reminder that everything will be alright….——Music Is Medicine——Much love to my brother Dr. William Robinson on the keys, he’s phenomenal. Much love Dr. Bayard Carlson for recording the video. Both are fellow Orthopedic Surgery co-Residents ——
Posted by Elvis Francois on Monday, March 12, 2018
Dr. Elvis, an orthopedic surgery resident at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, turns out to have a voice that goes with his name. That’s not all — fellow surgeon Dr. William Robinson plays the piano with gusto. Together, they performed Mike Yung’s debut original song “Alright” and shared it in a Facebook video. It went viral, and has already notched up a massive 1.5 million views!
In his post, Elvis Francois recounted what his role model, Dr. Franklin Sim, told him before he retired: “As a surgeon, it is your responsibility to bear the burden of worry with your patients”. That’s exactly why William and Elvis picked this song: “When you’re feeling low / And there’s no one around / When it looks like it’s over / And life’s got you down / Hold on to me brother / I’ll be there when you need … Everything—everything / Everything is gonna be alright”.
Serenading his patients
When another surgeon colleague, Dr. Bayard Carlson, recorded this video at Saint Mary’s Hospital last Sunday it was the first time William and Elvis performed the song together formally, the Star Tribune reported. But it turns out that 32 year-old Dr. Francois has been lifting spirits at the clinic for a long time now. He “serenades his patients before and after surgery”, CNN reported last year when he spoke with Inside Edition:
Growing up my father would take us to church, and me and my brother would always sing along. Music and medicine have been things I’ve always been passionate about…
Dr. Francois has several other videos up on his page. Just two months ago, he shared a video he dedicated to one of his bravest patients, who faced and survived metastatic bone cancer. When he was told that the surgeons would have to remove half of his pelvis in an operation that “could literally cost him his life,” he replied: “I’d rather live a short life fighting this cancer with everything that I have, than to die knowing I never gave it my all”.
Within months of his last surgery, the patient went back to his work as community counselor, prepared his application to grad school, and got engaged to the woman of his dreams. Dr. Elvis Francois was not just his surgeon, he became his friend as well, and dedicated this rendition of Only Fools Rush In to him:
Only Fools Rush In…..I would like to personally dedicate this song to the union of Thomas and his new fiancé Rebecca (not their actual names and the patients permission was granted to speak about his story) —Thomas was diagnosed with metastatic bone cancer a few years ago. By the time he came to see us the cancer had spread to his lungs, left pelvis, left proximal femur and his right distal femur. —I'll never forget the first day I met him in clinic. When our consultant told him that we would have to remove half of his pelvis and that the operation could literally cost him his life, his response was: "I rather live a short life fighting this cancer with everything that I have, than to die knowing I never gave it my all"—After a number of Orthopedic tumor surgeries Thomas more than survived, he continues to be a light to us all. Two weeks after his last surgery he called to ask if he could go back to work. Despite all of his hardship he continues to work as a community counselor at a local group home. On top of that, not only is he applying to grad school, Thomas just got engaged to the woman of his dreams.—So with that…this one goes out to you my good man. To a new friendship. To new life. To grad school. To the new love you've found in your fiancé. Congratulations and keep falling in love with all that you have….. #musicismedicine #mayoclinic #orthopaedicsurgery #cancersurvivor #surgery #medicine #cancer
Posted by Elvis Francois on Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Not just any song
If none of that wasn’t yet inspiring enough, let us tell you about the song the two surgeons chose to perform! We already mentioned that “Alright” was written by Mike Yung. If you haven’t yet heard of him, Yung has his own inspiring story to tell.
Back when he was just 14 years old, Mike was signed on to the T-Electric record label, but it went bust before his album came out. For most of the four decades that have followed he’s been busking, travelling up into the city every day from Brownsville, Brooklyn, to sing in the subway. But it’s never too late to catch a break! A year and a half ago, a video of him singing “Unchained Melody” went viral, and last year he reached the semifinals of America’s Got Talent. Now he’s determined to record his first album, and Alright is the first song he’s written himself:
I wrote this song to remind people to keep pushing through bad times. Sometimes things feel as if there is no hope but just remember everything will eventually pass and eventually everything will be alright.
“I have been stabbed 9 times, jumped by gangs, and spent the past 38 years busking to support my family in the projects of Brownsville NY,” Yung recounted on his Facebook page. “I’ve faced many obstacles chasing my dream of being a singer. At 58 years old, I am raising a kickstarter to put out my debut album “Never Give Up”’.
That Kickstarter is now two-thirds of its way to meet the costs, and we’re pretty sure it’s no coincidence that Dr. Elvis Francois picked this song to play!
Music is medicine: The Singing Nurse agrees!
Dr. Elvis Francois is sure: music is medicine. There are nurses who feel the exact same way, and bring their own musical talents to their job! On this blog, we already once told you the story of Jared Axen, The Singing Nurse:
“What do you get when you combine a degree in music and a training as Registered Nurse? A singing nurse. That’s the nickname that has stuck for Jared Axen, a nurse at at the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia, California. Once he switched to nursing, his passion for music meant that he’d often be singing to himself as he walked down the halls of the hospital, and soon he discovered that patients would come out of their rooms just to hear him. So he decided he would use his musical gifts as an additional way to care for his patients […].
His patients are grateful for the care he devotes to them when he sits by them, holds their hand and sings their favorite songs. It had been at least thirty years since someone last sang to her, said 85-year-old heart patient Audrey Smith that year, and in newly lifted spirits she even sang back to him, and quite well too. “You know, you’re in the hospital and you have a heavy heart, you’re worried and everything, but you come along and it just .. it makes me feel so good,” another patient told Jared […] when he was named “Nurse of the Year” by CBS’s The Doctors. “When I hear Jared sing, I feel so light-hearted and my heart is lifted,” she explained. “He puts a smile on my face.” […]
Happiness helps health, and Axen told the LA Times that patients would request less pain medication and fewer mood stabilizers, because they were in higher spirits. […] 89-year-old Norma Laskoske, who resided in the hospital because of pneumonia and lung cancer, seemed to agree, even as his rendition of “Time After Time” moved her to tears. “If he would come in 24 hours a day I think I’d be well and I’d be out of here,” she said. “He has a beautiful, soothing voice and the nice thing about it is when he looks at you, you know he’s singing to you. It just pierces my heart.”’
Wouldn’t it be amazing if, one day, the singing nurse and surgeons could perform together in a medical-musical symphony?