Sadru’s Story  

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Jo Jezard, a music therapist in our London team writes about Sadru, a beneficiary who Jo worked with during his treatment for cancer at University College Hospital, London. 

A cancer diagnosis at any stage of life is devastating, but for teenagers and young people living their lives to the fullest with their futures ahead of them, the news can be especially heartbreaking.  

Sadru is one of these young people. At the age of 18, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and started a course of treatment at University College Hospital.  

For any teenager or young adult an illness like this can have an impact on their growing sense of self and identity. So many young people have described how their lives are ‘put on hold’ as they are forced to adapt to the way their lives have changed, and Sadru was no exception.   

The tumor and subsequent treatment Sadru received affected him in many ways. Along with the physical effects of the intensive chemo, the tumor itself also impacted Sadru’s left-eye, and caused problems with his balance and his cognitive ability. But what also suffered as a result was his mental health – he felt isolated and anxious.   

This is where Nordoff Robbins music therapy came into Sadru’s life. Whilst much of the treatment he was having in hospital was focused on the illness, music therapy supported him through his entire journey, supporting and celebrating his wellbeing, his identity, and crucially, focusing on what he could do, not what his illness had meant he couldn’t.  

I work at University College Hospital on the cancer ward delivering music therapy to young patients on a weekly basis, in different ways. But what was particularly useful for Sadru was joining a group session I run with other young patients being treated on the ward. Making music with other people offered Sadru an opportunity to socialise, where ‘normal’ social activity with friends had suffered, and a way to engage in something positive with people going through the same thing. He became a vital member of the group, always encouraging people to get involved and making people smile.  

Sadru's Journey

As Sadru progressed on his journey with his illness, so did the way in which we engaged in music together. We moved into song writing which gave him the space to be creative and express himself - he wrote about his experiences with cancer, using the music as a means of getting out all those emotions and frustrations he was feeling, out in the open.  

What struck me though was what was coming through his music; there was a real sense of celebration, growth, resilience and strength – he wanted to inspire others. This gave way to us creating a song together which Sadru decided to perform and record. The fact that he even had the confidence now to share his music with others, that he wanted to send such a positive message through music, made me incredibly proud of how far he had come.  

Sadru said:

“I wanted to shine a light on what I went through so other people can see it and appreciate what they have and to help them if they are going through what I went through. To say you are never, never alone, you never have nothing, even when you give up and you can’t do any more, just believe you can.” 

Following years of invasive and intensive treatment, Sadru moved on from active treatment and now comes in for monitoring and checkups. Sadru is still regaining his independence, but what music gave him was a platform for expression, an outlet for his feelings, and an opportunity to send a positive message to other young people on the ward, at a time when he, and they, needed it most.  

Here's Sadru's Song