How Drums are Helping This Boy Beat Cancer

parker image
Parker Adams with Riley Music Therapist Marial Biard

Parker Adams is 10. He likes bright colors, especially orange. 

He loves Butler basketball, drawing, playing soccer, Pokemon and Minecraft.

He’s also getting pretty good at playing drums.

Today, since he can’t bring his drum set into his hospital room, Riley Music Therapist Marial Biard brings some of her drums in. She plays along with Parker while he waits for his next round of chemotherapy to start. Her visit is a welcome distraction. “She’s really nice ‘cause she lets me play drums while I’m here,” says Parker. “It takes my mind off things that I don’t like.”

Watch a video of Parker performing “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” with his music therapist

Parker’s parents, Scott and Amy Adams, have been deeply moved by the way Riley Child Life and Creative Arts Therapies staff members like Marial have lifted Parker’s spirits. “There was a point where he wasn’t doing well enough to even play the drums, but she came in and left them for him just in case,” says Scott. “It shakes you up talking about it because they’re so phenomenal. What it does for Parker, what it does for the whole floor of kids – I wish more people knew about it.”

Scott left his job as Herron High School’s basketball coach and Amy is taking a year-long leave from her teaching job so they can stay close to Parker during his treatment. In August, Parker was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a cancer that begins in the adrenal gland. Chemotherapy was successful in reducing the tumors that had spread throughout his body, and Riley pediatric surgeon Fred Rescorla, M.D., removed what remained of the tumors in November. “Right now we’re removing the final cancer in my body which is in my bones,” explains Parker. “Only 5% of it is left, and it started with 88 % of my bones filled. They think this last chemo will kill it.”

Parker plans to go home to spend Christmas with his parents and two younger sisters. He’ll return to Riley for a stem cell transplant in January to improve his odds of staying cancer-free. He admits that he sometimes feels “upset” and “nervous” about his cancer. But he has this advice for other children facing similar battles:

“Stay positive. Occupy your mind with things you like, and that’ll help take away things from your mind that are bad.”

He also has a message for all the Riley donors in the community whose gifts have helped bring him state-of-the art cancer care in a comforting setting:

“Thanks for all the support to Riley Hospital, because the support they gave to this hospital is helping me.”

Help kids like Parker by making a Gift of Hope to Riley. Click here to make your gift today.

Riley Blogger

The Riley Blog is written and/or edited by members of the Riley Children's Foundation Communications Staff.

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