Spoonful of Music

Carlo Santiago was diagnosed with neuroblastoma before his fifth birthday. He spent much time after that diagnosis in treatment at Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). In 2009, Carlo was introduced to James Valentine, lead guitarist for Maroon 5, through his participation in a Teen Impact LA music program. Carlo thrived in the program and had something he could look forward to every week. What began as guitar lessons grew into a friendship between two guitar enthusiasts. Playing guitar was both a gift and a passion of Carlo's, providing a creative outlet and a distraction from the challenges of his cancer treatment.

When James went away on tour, the CoachArt program provided Carlo with the chance to keep learning and playing the guitar. He was fortunate to be matched with a medical student guitar coach who patiently taught and challenged him. That coach, Hillel Bocian, is now one of the founders of Spoonful of Music.

Carlo lost his cancer battle in 2011 at the age of 10. He remains an inspiration today, and he'll always be remembered by his friends at Spoonful of Music.

Hey we're Gwynne and Jessa Furches. We were born in 1996, over two months early. When we were one something unusual happened to us and our parents rushed us to the hospital. Later we were diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. Being that young we had no idea what was going on but as we grew up we learned that we'd never be "normal." As we grew up we watched old films, The Wizard OF Oz, The Music Man and many more. We were fascinated. We wanted to be like them, we wanted to sing and act. We stared singing when we were about 6. We joined the community theatre and we both were in The Wizard Of Oz for 6 years.

At the age of 9 our father left. After that, music became a huge outlet for us. The pain of being rejected along with the loss of someone we cared about, our own father. But when we sang, it's as if everything disappeared. We also started listening to Michael Jackson. He was our rock. We would play his CD or turn on a video and just smile. In 2009 we suffered another loss when Michael died. That was very hard on us, but after a few months we continued singing.

To this day singing is something we do daily. We both suffer from Cystic Fibrosis as well as depression and anxiety. Music is our outlet!

My name is Jessica. I'm 18, and I've had Cystic Fibrosis my whole life.

Living with CF wasn't a problem for me until middle school. I went to the hospital a few times and fell behind on school work very quickly. At that time, I also was starting to notice that my CF made me rather different from everyone else. I had to be inside often to do breathing treatments instead of being able to play outside with my friends. It frustrated me to no end. Most of my treatment took place at Stamford Hospital's Tully Health Center. Dr. Sadeghi is amazing.

High school started and then a miracle happened. This miracle is called Kalydeco, and it's for a mutation of CF that not a whole lot of people who have CF have. I was one of the people who did.

My breathing has since gotten better, and I am attending college. Because I love music as much as I do, I'd like to go into radio broadcasting or communications. I picked up the ukulele about a year and a half ago, and instantly fell in love with it. I taught myself how to play and I haven't stopped since, but I'm still learning, of course. If someone is struggling with an illness and are looking for an outlet to vent their frustrations or sadness, I'd advise them to pick up an instrument. Pick up anything that appeals to you. The guitar, the flute, the drums, anything. Learn to play songs you like, or write something of your own! It never hurts to try (and keep trying!)

My name is Brooke and I'm 15. I have deep depression and anxiety disorder that has caused a constant tremor in my right hand. Multiple doctors have told me that I most likely have histrionic personality disorder, but the diagnosis can't be confirmed until I'm 18.

Music is the sole thing that I can count on. It's always there. It's beautiful and amazing. It's perfection created from silence. Honestly, I don't believe I'd be here today if it weren't for the outlet that I found in music. This is what I do and who I am down to my very core. It is my favorite thing and what I am best at. I don't ever have to worry about being judged or criticized or ridiculed when it comes to music. Music has a way of making me feel important, special, and beautiful. It's so different and unique, yet anyone can relate. Music knows no image or disability. It doesn't judge or poke fun. I can honestly say that music is everything for me. There's no boyfriend, fancy car, perfect prom dress, or tons of friends or parties. It's just music. It's always music. I write and sing and record and cry. Know that this is a labor of love for me. I do what I do because I absolutely love it with a passion.