Bellmead resident Dalton Calvery is the ultimate fan of Led Zeppelin, with a full-back tattoo to prove it.
So, when music therapist Kathleen Brown was looking for ways to calm Calvery during radiation treatments for his throat cancer, she turned to the wailing guitars of the 1970s rock band.
Brown works at Baylor Scott & White Cancer Center where she offers help to those struggling with anxiety or fear during their treatments.
Calvery was receiving his first round of radiation and chemotherapy, but struggled to keep still during the procedure because it hurt his ear to lie on his back.
Calvery wanted to lie on his side because the cancer was located on his neck and it would press against his ear, hurting him.
“The first couple of times I was just laying there like I was in a casket,” Calvery said.
His doctors asked for Brown’s help and within minutes of talking to Calvery, she had a solution.
Brown found a Led Zeppelin song online and played it over the speakers in the treatment room for Calvery.
The music distracted him enough that guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant headlined the soundtrack for the remainder of his treatment regimen.
“It takes me away from here. It’s relaxing,” Calvery said.
Calvery said he doesn’t have a favorite, but enjoys “Stairway to Heaven,” “Kashmir” and “Whole Lotta Love.”
Brown said music therapy successfully calms patients and helps reduce pain and fatigue because of “gate control theory.”
The spinal cord can only carry so many messages to the brain, and if patients listen to music, the neurological pathways are used to focus on the music instead of the pain, Brown said.
“The nerves can only carry one signal at a time. So, if that signal is pleasurable music then you’re not going to feel pain or anxiety,” she said.
Often it can take time to find the right music to which a patient will respond, Brown said.
“I lucked out,” she said of Calvery’s love of Zeppelin.
And one of her concerns is that a patient’s taste for a style of music will sour after listening to it during treatment, but Calvery said that won’t happen for him. He and the band have been together for too long, he said.
Calvery owns 28 of the band’s albums on vinyl, but hasn’t listened to them for years because he doesn’t have a record player at home.
He used to listen to them on cassette, but most of his tapes melted after he left them on the dashboard of his car.
“I’ve been listening to it all my life. I just didn’t know I would be able to come to the hospital and get to relax and listen to it. That blew my mind,” he said.