San Diego’s Singing Doctor Brings Healing Melodies
Just days before Christmas 2015, San Diego resident Dawn Mannino discovered she has stage 4 breast cancer, a very serious diagnosis. At that time, she thought that she might very well be experiencing her last holiday season. Then she sought treatment from cCARE’s Dr. Steven Eisenberg.
“He became my friend right away, and because he became my friend right away, I trusted him,” Dawn explained. “And that was the first time I had hope.” As part of his unique approach to treatment, Dr. Eisenberg writes and performs songs for each of his patients, and Dawn’s song continues to be a source of comfort and inspiration. This year, her Christmas celebrations were livened by the recent news that her stage 4 breast cancer is currently inactive.
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Music as medicine
“These are not just random songs,” Eisenberg noted. “The patients are the co-writers. I’m taking their love and inspirations. Even as we’re writing the song, they remember things, like their creativity or how they were as a child.
When I sing it for them, their receptors are firing. In many cases, I see a fog lifting. They may be suffering not only from ‘chemo-brain’ — which is very difficult — but depression, anxiety and fear. I want to bring love, light and music to cancer patients.”
Dr. Eisenberg explains the events and philosophies that led him to write songs for his patients
Over the course of his career as an oncologist, cCARE’s Dr. Steven Eisenberg has become well-known in the medical community for his musical approach to care. He writes a song for each of his patients to encourage them and lift them up. In the San Diego Union Tribune story linked below, Eisenberg expounds on the origins of this practice of using healing music, connecting the inspiration back to his own journey.
“Art and medicine are tightly linked,” he says. “I hope (my) story helps them break through the normal patient/doctor barrier. I was taught to keep up the barrier, but I say break down the barrier…because it may help (patients) heal.”
cCARE’s ‘Singing Oncologist’ Brings Music To Cancer Patients
Dr. Steven G. Eisenberg is featured on the website The DO, a publication of the American Osteopathic Association, for bringing empathy to his cancer patients with music. After treating and collaborating with a well-known piano teacher in the San Diego area, Dr. Eisenberg (a guitar player) had the idea of creating songs with his patients.
“Once I’ve gotten to know my patients, I call them in the evening or over the weekend and we spend half an hour talking about completely non-medical topics: what they love about life, what their childhood was like, how they met their spouse, and what legacy they want to leave,” Dr. Eisenberg said. “We start writing the song, and over the next week or two, the tune comes to me and the rest of the song writes itself. I record an MP3 of the song and lyrics for the patient to keep.”