Musical Healing Resonates as Greenslopes Doctor Conducts Cancer Choir

Dr Andrew Nicol, a leading Greenslopes haematologist and oncologist, has launched a virtual cancer choir, providing a harmonious refuge for patients undergoing gruelling cancer treatments from the comfort of their own homes or hospital beds.

Dr Nicol spent over 20 years leading cutting-edge haematology-oncology research at the Greenslopes Private Hospital, testing innovative lymphoma, myeloma, and leukaemia therapies. His Brisbane Clinic for Lymphoma, Myeloma and Leukaemia ensures rapid access to specialist care and seamless coordination with other medical experts. 

However, he recognised the need for a more holistic approach, one that addresses the emotional and psychological toll of cancer treatment. 

Thus, the idea for Hope Sings was born.  The project was officially formed in 2023.

Collaborative Healing Melodies 

Hope Sings is a virtual choir that allows patients to record themselves singing from anywhere in the world, with their voices merged into a unified performance by music technicians.

The project is a joint effort between Dr Nicol’s Exercise, Music and Art in Medicine charity, Queensland’s renowned Voices of Birralee community choir, cancer survivor and podcaster Jacqui Cowan, and the support of university composers.

Voices of Birralee, under the guidance of musical director Paul Holley, has provided backing tracks and a repertoire of uplifting songs tailored to various vocal abilities. Patients can download the tracks, sing along while recording themselves on their smartphones, and optionally submit video performances.

Ms Cowan is a patient of Dr Nicol, who has been in remission for 10 years. She hosts the “Cancer Culture” podcast on Spotify.

Harmonising Hope 

Dr Nicol explained that cancer treatment often involves extended periods of isolation or being bedridden, leading to feelings of boredom and depression. Their research consistently demonstrates the positive effects of singing, collaborating, engaging in art, and exercising for individuals undergoing treatment.

The therapeutic power of music is already evident among the choir’s first participants. 

David Taylor, undergoing leukaemia therapy, has experienced the emotional benefits of choir singing firsthand.

Terry Ryder, a 76-year-old lymphoma patient and music lover, sees the choir as a source of solace and hope during his cancer journey. For Nerida Rienecker, a mother of four, the choir is a source of comfort and relief from the stresses of cancer as her son battled stage 4 Wilms tumour.

As the virtual choir expands, participants can collaborate with university composers, share their stories on podcasts, and eventually participate in hybrid concerts streamed online. Hope Sings aims to bring hope and healing to cancer patients worldwide with an inclusive and innovative approach.

Learn more about this program here.