Saturday, May 5th, was unlike any other day on Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Hematology Oncology floor. The beats of Kelly Clarkson’s song “Stronger” rang through the halls as patients sang out the familiar chorus, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…”

Doctors, nurses, parents and patients showed off their best dance moves while harmonizing to the tune with big smiles on their face. Patients held up signs with the words “hope” and “fighter” – all communicating the important message that they are strong.

This fun celebration of strength was thanks to Chris Rumble, a 22-year-old Children’s cancer patient who lives in Kent, Wash., who was recently diagnosed with leukemia in April. Chris had the idea to make a music video to share with his old hockey team in Wenatchee because his teammates had made him a music video for his birthday.

“I’m everyone’s big brother and I have a lot of friends here at Seattle Children’s,” says Chris. “I wanted to make a video to send back to my team and I thought what better way to do it then with the kids on my floor.”

What about the song choice? Chris said that he is a fan of Kelly Clarkson and thought the words were perfect for relating to cancer.

Chris said creating the video was a blast as it was great to see everyone, including doctors, nurses, patients and parents, out in the hallways participating.

“It was not only good to see the kids happy, but it was also great to see how their parents were so happy as they watched their kids just being kids – dancing, singing and having fun,” says Chris. “The kids will also enjoy being able to watch the video forever and share it with their friends and family.”

As for his teammate’s response to the video, “They all think it is awesome and they can’t stop watching it,” says Chris.

Chris’ Story

A promising hockey player on his way to a professional career, Chris Rumble lived in Wenatchee for the past three years where he played for the Wenatchee Wild hockey team. In April, after having swollen glands and being urged by others to visit a doctor, Chris visited a Wenatchee clinic to be tested for mono. That is where he received a leukemia diagnosis. Eight hours later he was at Children’s.

“The diagnosis hit me like a brick wall. I was really worried about playing hockey again but I didn’t have time to be sad because everything just happened so fast,” says Chris. “The hardest part was telling people, especially my mom. She made it easier though as she just said, ‘OK we’ll beat it.’”

Chris is now undergoing about a 6-month treatment plan at Children’s and he will be done with therapy in September, just in time for hockey season to begin in October. Chris will be attending Canisius College where he will play on their hockey team. For Chris, “Going to college is the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Seattle Children’s Not Now Program

Chris’ music video was a part of Children’s Not Now creative arts program for patients with cancer. John Blalock, Children’s Hematology Oncology Artist In Residence, and Mike Attie, Children’s video producer, helped Chris create the video. It was also filmed by Seattle University film students Ben Anderson, Sawyer Purman and Lael Rogers.

The aim of Not Now is to help adolescents and young adults cope with cancer and provide psychosocial support through creative projects and by connecting them with peers. In recognizing that art has the ability to restore a sense of accomplishment and independence that patients often feel has been lost after a cancer diagnosis, the program helps give them a voice in telling their story through a variety of mediums including photography, video and music.  John’s artist-in-residence work was originally funded by a grant from LIVESTRONG’s Community Impact Project to replicate The Creative Center’s Hospital Artist-In-Residence Program. Currently, the Not Now program is funded by Seattle Children’s Guild Association Teen Cancer Fund.

Chris’ video is the second creation in the Not Now series, highlighting patients’ unique stories and experiences. The first work in the series, “The Hidden Shadows of Cancer: Photography by Ruby Smith at Seattle Children’s,” documents Ruby’s experience of being a teen with cancer after being diagnosed with Burkitts Lymphoma in August 2011.

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Additional Resources

Update: Here is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the music video!