Susan Metz

Red Bank
New Jersey


Group of singers in a small plaza with a Christmas tree in the background

The author and friends caroling in Red Bank NJ. Photo by Ken Barber

Many cancer survivors like me have found comfort in music. While sitting in the waiting room at Sloan-Kettering before my latest checkup, I came across a couple of articles about Rising Voices, a cancer survivors’ chorus.

This group is led by a volunteer and is free to patients with no auditions and no musical training or experience required. They gather around the piano on Manhattan’s East Side and sing familiar songs chosen to be easy to learn and uplifting in mood. While they occasionally perform for other patients, their mission is not performing; it’s “singing as a celebration of survival.” Rising Voices is described as “a lively creative outlet for cancer survivors looking for an interactive, unique and expressive support team.”

I was struck by the differences and similarities between Rising Voices and the chorus I’ve been singing in for more than 30 years, Monmouth Civic Chorus. Our chorus does require auditions and musical training/experience. Our mission is performing, and our music is neither easy to learn nor always uplifting. But we do serve as an interactive, unique and expressive support team. There are many times I’ve dragged myself to rehearsal, worn out by stress and preoccupied with troubles large and small. By the end of the evening I’m cheered and refreshed, less tired than when I got there. The energy of our director, the encouragement of my fellow singers and the benefits of deep breathing take me to a better place. All other concerns drop away and there is nothing to think about but music. I’m grateful to be able to sing and grateful to be alive.