Sharing music helped Joni beat cancer!
After a breast cancer diagnosis left singer Joni Harms, 58, shaken and scared, she wondered how she’d ever get through surgery and treatment. Little did she know that the music in her heart would help her heal— and help other patients heal too!
Joni Harms stared in fear at the building ahead of her. Cancer Center, she read, as her husband, Jeff, led her inside. As a musician, the Canby, Oregon, native knew this place: She’d performed for sick kids here many times. But this time, Joni was the patient.
Days earlier, she’d gotten the shock of her life when, after a routine mammogram, her doctor called her in for a biopsy of her right breast.
Please, let everything be okay, Joni had prayed in disbelief. She’d always been healthy, only ever taking trips to the hospital to give birth to her two children many years ago.
But Joni’s stomach dropped when she heard her doctor’s words, “I’m sorry—it’s cancer.” All the former rodeo queen and rancher could do was bow her head and pray. Lord, I know You have a plan for me. Help me to find a way through this.
Weeks later, as Joni recovered from a lumpectomy, her doctor shared the good and bad news. “We got it all,” she said, as Joni and her family breathed a sigh of relief. “There was nothing in your lymph nodes, either. But, you’ll likely have to cancel your music gigs, including your trip to Europe in two weeks, so you can rest and heal before you start chemotherapy.”
Though Joni respected her doctor’s advice, something deep in her heart told her she had to go ahead with her trip. “Music makes me happy,” she told Jeff. “I can’t let this stop me from doing what I love!”
So Joni packed her bags and she and her daughter, Olivia, left for a tour of Germany, France and Switzerland. And with each performance, Joni could feel the music filling her with strength to forge ahead.
A healing gift
Still, when Joni returned home to start chemotherapy, she couldn’t help but feel afraid. To quiet her fears, she’d bring along her headphones to each treatment, and as she’d sit
for hours next to the IV, Joni would listen to the music she loved as peace filled her heart.
One day after treatment, a nurse approached her. “Would you perform for us?” she asked, hope in her eyes.
“By all means!” Joni beamed. Music has helped me through all of this, she thought. I hope I’m not in too much pain to play.
A few days later, Joni sang for her fellow patients. As her voice filled the room, the atmosphere began to shift. They’re smiling, Joni realized joyfully, amazed as even her own pain began to subside.
When she finished, the room burst into applause. “Encore!” excited cheers rang out, as Joni felt a rush of joy.
“Please, tell me you’ll sing for us again!” one patient said. And in that moment, Joni knew she had to continue. She returned to sing for the group each week, and even brought her CDS for them to listen to when she left the group for the next phase of her treatment. Through 30 rounds of radiation therapy, Joni never missed a chance to sing the songs in her heart, either for her chemo group or on her scheduled tour. Today, she’s been in remission for two years and is touring worldwide with her new album, Lucky 13. She also continues to sing in hospitals across the country. “Music is an extraordinary gift,” Joni smiles. “And I am so blessed to have been able to use it to bring happiness to people who were struggling like I was. It helped heal my body, mind and spirit!” —Deborah Evans Price & Alexandra Pollock
“Music is an integral tool for the preservation of our health” — Barry Bittman, M.D.
“God and music gave me strength to keep going,” Joni says of her fight with breast cancer in 2016 Today, Joni sings songs of hope and joy for cancer patients and fans around the world
Joni ( top) now feels blessed to be healthy and have time with her kids, Olivia ( left) and Luke ( right) Joni (center) at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center, where she had treatment and still performs her music