Five-year-old Olivia is blessed with an excellent sense of rhythm and sings so sweetly. With the help of her music therapist from Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Charity, she has learned to express herself and to connect with her family and friends.
Weekly music therapy sessions from Nordoff Robbins Music Therapist Ellie Fletcher at the hospice take Olivia’s mind off the chemotherapy she has been having since being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Music also allows her to explore her other senses since losing most of her vision.
Mum Lisa Taylor said: “Olivia has some really good friends. The kids at her school are amazing with her and because the music therapy is held during the school day it is just such a good way for her to connect with them. They can’t wait to be picked to join her for music on a Friday!”
Since being diagnosed with the tumour, an optic nerve glioma, she has endured 20 months of intense chemotherapy, a short break and then another 18 months of less severe chemotherapy.
Lisa said: “Luckily the second lot of chemo was less harsh and had fewer side effects. She has finished the chemo now and her next scan will be in June. Although we will never be in remission, we hope for continued stability. Treatment could potentially continue until she is 18.
“The tumour was a grade one which meant it was slow growing, but Olivia’s vision probably won’t return, although she does seem to have some light perception. At the moment she seems to have no cognitive deficit – just her loss of sight.”
Both Lisa and her husband Matt work full time. Lisa, a recruitment manager for a tech company, is thankful she can work from home on a regular basis. It allows her more time to spend with Olivia and her little sister Imogen, who is two.
Olivia has her music therapy sessions at her school, on a Friday and on Friday evening she has her chemotherapy at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Lisa said: “Olivia goes to a mainstream school which has a visual impairment unit so she can have cane training and help with mobility. She also knows all her letters in braille now.
“The weekly music therapy sessions are so important because when the other children are reading and writing, she is learning braille – but with music they are all learning the same thing and connecting with each other. Because she has music therapy, Olivia loves Fridays. I would recommend music therapy to anyone in our situation. It is one of the things Olivia has in her life that’s not medical.
“She has blood tests on Thursdays ready for chemo on Fridays and then she feels unwell until Monday or Tuesday, so the music therapy gives her something to look forward to. It’s a way to express herself, but not by talking to doctors and nurses. It’s not clinical.”
The Taylor family have also used some of ellenor’s other services during Olivia’s illness, including respite care and nurse visits to their home, and Lisa has had a couple of massages from the therapists in the Wellbeing Team.