Y. Mark Hong, MD

Music and Medicine. A Prescription for Healing.

By markhongmd on May 15, 2016

Music, Meditation and Healing

Music makes us feel.  Most times it makes us feel good.  Other times it makes us feel sad.  Who hasn't sipped coffee on a rainy day listening to something blue and felt transformed?  It can take us back to a long lost memory and let us relive it in a moment.  There's no question that music affects our brains and emotions.  Just as importantly, music connects us.  Often in ways deeper than words or actions could ever hope to do.

I had an incredible experience recently.  I had the honor of listening to the music of one of my patients while he was asleep under anesthesia while I was operating on him for aggressive prostate cancer.  Funky, surreal experience.  It took me a while to understand what it all meant.  In fact, I didn't really get it until I was rehearsing for a benefit for the Phoenix Symphony, Doctors in Recital.  What came out of that was unexpected and profound.  The text of my speech is below, but please watch the video and share in our story, share in our triumph.

Doctors in Recital 2016

Doctors in Recital 2016, speech transcript

Good afternoon and welcome to Doctors in Recital.  You know, it’s not easy to surprise a urologist, but I wanted to share a unique experience I had 3 months ago.  A man and his wife came into my office to discuss his aggressive prostate cancer.  We ended up talking about music and it turned out the patient was a piano professor as well as his wife.  He gave me his piano professional CD which I actually ended up listening to in the operating room while performing his surgery.  It was surreal to be able to connect to him through his music even though he was asleep under anesthesia.  

I chose today’s piece, Meditation from the opera Thais by Jules Massenet because it encapsulates this experience.  It’s the story of a beautiful courtesan, Thais, who is persuaded to leave her life of pleasure by a monk.  This Meditation is her time of reflection before following the monk to the desert and salvation. 
You know in some respects, the violin is more difficult than robotic surgery.  The violin is a punishing instrument, where just a millimeter difference puts you way out of tune.  Playing the violin is meditative.  It requires intense focus, to be in the present moment.  You can’t be thinking of what to wear tomorrow or the bad coffee you had this morning.  Strangely similar to robotic surgery.  It takes intense focus to remove a cancerous prostate, making 3 hours seem like 30 minutes.  3 months ago, it all came together.  Meditatively operating inside my patient’s pelvis, while listening to his music, which he played with his own meditative intensity.  It was a transcendental experience, for meditation at its core is spiritual.
So I am honored to have Professor Daniel Fletcher accompany me today, with his wife Kathy by his side.  And we are happy to report that 3 months after his robotic surgery, his prostate cancer is cured.  So let’s all take a deep breath in together and out.  For today is a meditation, of life, of joy, and the healing power that brings all of our spirits together today through music.

About Dr. Hong

Dr. Hong is committed to providing optimal care for men with prostate cancer, which involves acknowledging their quality of life and caring for the whole person, not just the disease.  Contact Dr. Hong for an appointment and in-person consultation.


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