When six-year-old Oliver first started having health problems, his parents, Tyson and Vanessa, believed it was asthma. When Oliver started snoring in his sleep or wheezing wearing a mask, his parents thought it was just sleep apnea or because of their son’s growing anxiety.
But Oliver’s health continued to deteriorate. His pain and discomfort grew and despite previously loving attending school, now he was resisting. He would ask his parents questions like, “Do all kids my age have back pain?”
“We had no clue,” said Tyson. “I had a weird inkling in the back of my mind that something wasn’t right here — but we had no idea what was about to happen.”
After Vanessa saw that her son’s right pec was noticeably larger than his left during bath time, she knew she had to get answers. When doctors and nurses hesitated to give definitive, immediate responses to their questions, Tyson and Vanessa’s concerns grew even more.
When the diagnosis came, it rocked the entire family: Oliver had T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. He had a tumor that was putting pressure on his heart, his throat, and his lungs, making it difficult for him to breathe.
It was a terrifying reality, and it fractured the family’s sense of peace and safety. Everything suddenly felt out-of-control and Tyson and Vanessa were terrified the entire time.
“It was nothing short of torture,” said Vanessa. “It was torture for Oliver, and it was torture for us.”
While the next months shook the family and Oliver underwent chemotherapy, Tyson and Vanessa worried for their son and his emotional well-being.
But there was Joy on the horizon in the form of a new friendship.
Tyson and Vanessa credit JoyRx Music for helping Oliver find Joy and emotional healing — thanks to his new friend, Cristina.
Music Creates Joy: Making a Friendship Connection
During a stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Portland, Oregon, as Oliver underwent treatment, he met JoyRx Music Specialist, Cristina.
“She has the voice of an angel,” said Vanessa, recalling the moment her son first heard Cristina singing. She was at Ronald McDonald House giving an in-person music performance. “Oliver was feeling shy and secluded at this point, just not feeling great… but then he started peeking around the corner, watching her.”
Vanessa watched Oliver approach Cristina. He started playing piano with her right there and he loved it. From there, Oliver began regular virtual visits with Cristina. It didn’t take long before they saw a change in their son.
“He just comes to life,” said Tyson. “The power of this connection and music — it means so much to him.”
It was a relief for the parents to see Oliver having that social interaction with someone beyond the family after a period of intense isolation. And they credit Cristina for helping Oliver’s mood.
“He’s been given so much Joy from this,” said Tyson.
When asked for a list of things that make him happy, Oliver’s list was short and sweet. Top of the list? “Cristina,” said Oliver. “Definitely Cristina.”
JoyRx Music draws on the universal power of music to lift and energize spirits. It helps kids and teens find Joy during the stressful and painful experiences related to extended hospitalizations and treatments for life-threatening illness. Help support Joy for thousands of children and their families by giving a gift today.
Finding Joy: Oliver Today
Today, Oliver enjoys his virtual visits with Cristina while he’s at home in Eugene, Oregon, and enjoys in-person sessions when he’s in Portland for treatment.
“Oliver is deeply sensitive and deeply kind,” said Vanessa. “He’s just a great human being.”
Through it all, they credit JoyRx Music for helping their son shine during such a difficult moment in his life.
“JoyRx has the right energy and attitude,” said Vanessa.
During this tumultuous time, the family felt fractured in many ways, struggling to find Joy in what felt overwhelming.
“We would wonder, ‘How do you fit Joy into your life?’” said Vanessa. “But JoyRx figured out where to fit Joy in the cracks that open up. They find where the Joy can shine.”
To both parents, JoyRx feels different. “It feels like actual care,” said Vanessa. “It feels like actual Joy.”