San Diego Doctor’s Mission To Save Lives with Music

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Dr. Steven G. Eisenberg is an oncologist from North County San Diego that has creatively chosen to mix music into the treatment for his patients, changing lives one person at a time. Board-certified in internal medicine, medical oncology and hematology, Eisenberg practices at California Cancer Associates for Research and Excellence (cCARE) where he regularly writes songs for and about his patients. He has offices in Poway, Escondido and Vista. He was also nominated for Best Bedside Manner at Tri-City Hospital.

Eisenberg has said that when he sings for patients, he can see them gain clarity as their brains are activated in a different way. The fog associated with “chemo-brain” gets lifted, reminding them of the love and light they have in their lives. The healing power of music has been proven to have a positive effect on patients. For Dr. Eisenberg, mixing music into treatment not only helps lighten up the somber mood that often looms over the treatment center, but allows him to relate to and get to know his patients on a deeper level.

Dr. Eisenberg has made it his mission as an oncologist to “become a champion for patient-doctor relationship and communication and empathy.”

He was recently featured on the Today show for his Lyrical Life program, which uses whole-person care in the form of an original song co-written with his patients.

The Entertainer recently had a chance to catch up with Dr. Eisenberg to discuss his program Lyrical Life and how music not only helps enrich his patients’ lives, but his own.

I believe that self-expression and creativity are vital for a life well lived. I experienced it first hand when I was in a life-threatening bike accident at age 13. It was the love and creativity of my care team that slowly and surely helped me recover over 6 months.  Music was a vital part of that time.

Co-writing an original song for a patient going through cancer treatment allows patients to express themselves. It gives them more opportunity to share their hopes and dreams while feeling part of the care and developing a robust partnership with me. It’s a personal anthem to help them rally through the chemo, to remember what moves, touches and inspires them in life, and to remind them that they are not their cancer: they are an individual, a wonderful human being who happens to be dealing with cancer as part of their journey. So the song that I co-write with the patient is an integral part of the human side of cancer.

The Today Show got word of it and they sent out Jenna Bush and followed me around and chronicled the process of how we give birth to a song for a patient with cancer. Out of that, there’s been a lot of interest on social media and I go around the country speaking about the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. The key is that it’s really not about writing songs together, it’s about listening to each other and being with each other in such a way that both parties feel heard. And that became the mission of my oncology: to become a champion for patient-doctor relationship and communication and empathy, really getting in the other’s shoes.

Real healing starts with listening, and you can’t write a song with someone battling through cancer treatment without really hearing their heart. In the end, the song reminds my patient that love is there in their life and to choose love over fear whenever possible.

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