Cancer Survivor Jazzes Up Fox Chase Cancer Center
PHILADELPHIA (October 30, 2002) -- Most people catch live jazz music at local clubs or restaurants. Patients and staff members at Fox Chase Cancer Center can enjoy these smooth sounds right in the hospital-courtesy of Arnold Platt of East Brunswick, N.J.
A professional jazz musician, Platt has been playing the saxophone for more than 50 years, performing throughout the New York and New Jersey areas. He also plays the harmonica. Platt's Fox Chase sets usually last about 10 minutes and he appears in the infusion room area and sometimes in radiation oncology and area B of the outpatient department.
Platt has survived pancreatic cancer and he shares his story, his encouragement and his music every couple months when he comes in for his follow-up appointments.
"I'm one of you," he says as he introduces himself to the others in the waiting room during his most recent visit. Then he lightens the mood before he begins playing.
"Kenny G and I have a lot in common," Platt says. "We're both Jews. We both play the soprano sax. But I play better than him. I'm not as good as Grover Washington though."
Platt flips the switch on his CD player, which accompanies his performance. His first song, "Here's To Life" by singer Shirley Horn, offers a message of hope.
"I love to play this song," he says. "I want to dedicate it to all of us here."
He continues with another Shirley Horn song called "If You Love Me." He dedicates this one to his wife of 50 years and to all the spouses who provide their support.
"My experience with cancer was a terrible ordeal," Platt says, "but I know it was even harder for my wife."
Platt's cancer was diagnosed two years ago. He came to Fox Chase in October 2000 after visiting three other institutions where physicians deemed his case inoperable. After a series of radiation and chemotherapy to shrink his tumor, Platt received clearance for surgery in March 2001.
"The surgery lasted about 12 and a half hours," he said. "Afterwards, I spent about six weeks in the hospital."
"My surgeon, Dr. [John] Hoffman, saved my life. We've become very close."
"Both of my doctors, Dr. Hoffman and Dr. [Louis] Weiner, are jazz aficionados," Platt added. "In fact, I'm teaching Dr. Hoffman's son to play the harmonica."
"So far, my tests and CT scans are clear. I consider it miraculous. Your hospital has been superb."
During Platt's latest Fox Chase performance, a couple seated in the waiting area holds hands. Others nod their heads to the beat of the music. Some smile; others have tears in their eyes. Several passersby even stop at the entrance to listen. Between songs and rounds of applause, Platt jokes and offers encouragement to his audience.
"Not too bad for someone whose kishkas have been taken out," he says after finishing a song. "For those of you who don't know, kishkas is Yiddish for insides."
"The energy and the soul is still there," Platt points out. "If you have hope and the right attitude, you can beat this damn thing. My odds were about a thousand to one and I beat the odds."
Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at www.fccc.edu.
Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).