SLU Cancer Center

A randomised controlled trial of the effect of music therapy and verbal relaxation on chemotherapy-induced anxiety

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MT and Chemo Anxiety – Full PDF

Written by Mei-Feng Lin, Ya-Ju Hsieh, Yu-Yun Hsu, Susan Fetzer and Mei-Chi Hsu, in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Aims. To determine the effect of music therapy and verbal relaxation on state anxiety and anxiety-induced physiological
manifestations among patients with cancer before and after chemotherapy.
Background. Cancer and its treatment provoke a series of changes in the emotional sphere of the patient’s anxiety. Music
therapy and verbal relaxation had reported the anxiety reduction effect on patients with cancer receiving chemotherapy.

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Music Therapy Program at St Louis University Cancer Center

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Saint Louis University student documentary highlighting the work and mission of The Music Therapy Program at the St Louis University Cancer Center.

Dr. Mark Varvares – Championing Music Therapy in Cancer Care

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Mark Varvares is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1986 magna cum laude and was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. His first year of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck surgery training was at St. Louis University, and he completed his postgraduate Otolaryngology training at Harvard. He stayed on at Harvard for a one-year Head and Neck Ablative and Reconstructive fellowship under the directions of Drs. William Montgomery and Mark Cheney. After completing his fellowship, Dr. Varvares advanced in his career at both the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the St. Louis University School of Medicine at different time periods. In 2003, he was offered the positions as Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at St. Louis University. In January of 2006, Dr. Varvares was also named Director of the St. Louis University Cancer Center. In April of 2008, Dr. Varvares was named the first incumbent of the Donald and Marlene Jerome Endowed Chair in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. His present clinical interests include all aspects of head and neck surgical oncology, including major ablative and reconstructive surgery of the head and neck, multidisciplinary care of the head and neck cancer patient, skull base surgery, reconstruction of the larynx and trachea, and the surgical management of thyroid and parathyroid disorders.

Dr. Varvares demonstrates his belief in music therapy as a worthy and valid therapy for patients who are diagnosed with cancer in both word and deed: as a surgeon, educator, researcher, and community partner. He advocates the benefits of music therapy in the SLU Cancer Center’s clinic, with his pre- and post-operative patients, with residents, fellows, attending physicians, and peers. He includes the music therapist in staff meetings related to patient satisfaction and quality care. Dr. Varvares encourages the music therapist to create new, innovative interventions. He has even donated a guitar from his own home for the music therapist to utilize during sessions with patients. Simply put, if not for Dr. Varvares, the SLU Cancer Center would not have the thriving and collaborative music therapy program it has today.

Mark A. Varvares, M.D., F.A.C.S.:

SLU Cancer Center Music Therapist Bios

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Crystal Weaver, CRC, MT-BC

Senior Music Therapist

Crystal Weaver is a Board Certified Music Therapist and a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor.  She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s in Music Therapy in 2004 and graduated with a Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling in 2010 from Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri.  During her time at Maryville University, Crystal Weaver was presented with the Leadership in Music Therapy Award from the Music Therapy Program and the Faculty Award for Excellence from the Rehabilitation Counseling Program.  From 2009 to 2010, Crystal Weaver was the graduate assistant for the Rehabilitation Counseling Program.

In 2004, Crystal Weaver completed a National Roster Internship at Hospice of Palm Beach County in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Later that same year, she accepted a full-time music therapy position at BJC Hospice in St. Louis, Missouri. During her time at BJC Hospice, Crystal was a part of the Missouri Baptist Hospital Speaker’s Bureau and was a member of the Quality Assurance Performance Improvement Committee.  In 2010, Crystal was named Employee of the Year at BJC Hospice.

In 2011, Crystal Weaver accepted a music therapy position at the St. Louis University Cancer Center. This position focuses on conducting music therapy based research studies and providing music therapy services to patients diagnosed with cancer.  Crystal is also responsible for fostering community partnerships with the St. Louis Symphony and the St. Louis University School of Fine and Performing Arts.

In addition to her responsibilities at the St. Louis University Cancer Center, Crystal Weaver is a site supervisor for music therapy internship students and is an adjunct faculty member at Maryville University and the St. Louis University School of Fine and Performing Arts.


Andrew Dwiggins, MT-BC

Music Therapist

Andrew Dwiggins is a Board Certified Music Therapist at the St. Louis University Cancer Center. He graduated from Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy in July 2013. After completing a music therapy internship, Andrew was hired as a full-time music therapist at the St. Louis University Cancer Center. At the St. Louis University Cancer Center, Andrew Dwiggins is responsible for: conducting music therapy sessions and assisting Crystal Weaver with music therapy research studies.

Before pursuing a career in music therapy, Andrew Dwiggins was a professional musician. His band, Greenwheel, was signed to Island Records from 2000-2006.  Andrew composed the song Breathe which was recorded by Melissa Etheridge for her 2004 album entitled Lucky. In 2005, Melissa Etheridge received a Grammy nomination for the song composed by Andrew Dwiggins in the category of Best Rock Solo Vocal Performance.


To learn more about the St. Louis University Cancer Center’s Music Therapy Program contact:

Crystal Weaver, CRC, MT-BC

Senior Music Therapist

St. Louis University Cancer Center

3655 Vista Ave.

St. Louis, MO 63110


Music Therapy Grand Rounds : Therapeutic Songwriting

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GR Jpeg

April 9th, 2014 from 2 – 5pm

We are thrilled to announce our latest opportunity to educate and inspire the community about Music Therapy with an upcoming Grand Rounds presentation! With Therapeutic Songwriting as our focus, the presentation will feature Crystal Weaver, CRC, MT-BC, Tracie Sandheinrich, MT-BC, and Grammy Award Nominee Andrew Dwiggins, MT-BC – describing how we and our patients collaboratively transform their experiences and emotions into song.

Why is songwriting therapeutic? How are songs for the radio different from therapeutic songs? Does a patient need to be an accomplished musician/songwriter for a session to be successful?

These and more questions will be answered by our engaging presentation: including patient interviews, session experiences, and most importantly – MUSIC!