Cancer Patients, Caregivers Find Stress-Relief, Healing in Drumming Circle

Beating Back Cancer
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       Battling cancer can be incredibly stressful for both patients and their family members.
But every Tuesday at the Cancer Wellness Center at Piedmont Newnan Hospital, a dozen or so cancer survivors and their caregivers have found an escape.  They come together in a drumming circle.
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    Prostate cancer survivor Fred Link of Sharpesburg, GA, says, "They tell me it increases the production of T-cells, which are cancer killing cells."  But Link, now 80 says T-cells aren't why he's here.   He's here because of what drumming does for him.   He says, "I feel a joy, a kind of calm. It lends a feeling of serenity."
 
      Darlene Cole, diagnosed in May with early-stage breast cancer, joined the group about a month ago.  
And, she says drumming came naturally.  She says, "I was shocked. Because I don't usually have any rhythm."
 
      But here, instructor Peter Marino sees something almost primal happening, something that has drawn drummers together for thousands of years.  Marino says, "When you play, you have a rhythm and your body syncs with that rhythm.  Everyone in the group, if we had monitors on them, at the end of their session, we would notice their heartbeats are the same, their brainwaves are similar."
 
    Darlene Cole loves the feeling of connection she experiences each week.  She says,  "It takes away the stress for the hour. We love it.  And it's not just the drumming.  We talk and laugh and just enjoy it."
 
      Darlene believes drumming is helping her heal from surgery, so that she can begin radiation treatments 
And when she's not here, she says, she misses this.  She says, "When I had my surgery. I stayed out for I think two weeks and then I came on back."
 
    Marino leads three drumming circles at Piedmont Cancer Wellness Centers around metro Atlanta.
 
    Here, he says, no one talks about the grind of chemo and scans and uncertainty.  They really don't talk much at all.  Marino says, "It's a relaxation. It's one place in the week they can let down. You can't play drums and worry about balancing your checkbook. Or did you leave the stove on at home, you put everything into that."
 

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