The nurses and staff at the Stanford Cancer Center are not likely to be ever confused for pop stars. And don’t bother looking for the “Chemo Song” on any of the Billboard charts.
Still, the 15-second, two-verse song (sung to the tune of the '60s hit “My Boyfriend’s Back”) is a big hit with one particular group: Cancer patients celebrating their final round of chemotherapy.
Chris Tucker, a nurse in the Infusion Treatment Area, says the staff’s tradition of singing to their outgoing patients began three or four years ago with one patient who was having a rough time with their chemotherapy treatments.
“So one day she said to us, ‘I can’t wait for this to be done.’ When I’m done, will you guys sing to me?”
Tucker says the nurses agreed and when the time came, “We all came in and started singing, ‘the chemo’s done, the chemo’s done’ kind of screaming and yelling.”
Over the years the lyrics evolved into something only slightly more sophisticated, but still very powerful.
“There’s almost always happy tears, there’s lots of hugs,” Tucker says.
The song not only boosts the morale of the departing patient, Tucker says, but also helps staff cope with an intense work environment.
“For us to do something celebratory, lighthearted and good,” Tucker says, “it sort of lifts our spirits.”
Tucker says that often other patients will “begin to cry, or will pull you aside and say when I’ve finished my treatment next month I want you to sing that song to me.”
Recently, the nurses performed their song to Maureen Cowley, a breast cancer patient from Millbrae finishing three months of chemotherapy treatments. The experience brought tears of joy to Cowley’s face.
Tucker says “that’s why we do what we do, because [Cowley’s] level of gratitude makes this kind of nursing particularly rewarding.”
To see (and hear) the Stanford nurses performing the “Chemo Song,” watch Garvin Thomas’ story above.