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In the Neighborhood:
The Search for Community on an American Street,
One Sleepover at a Time

Music: "Love Me Do"

One of the neighbors I write about in my book, In the Neighborhood, was Dr. Patricia DiNitto. Patti had lived three doors down from me—for more than three years—but I had never met her. When I did, what I learned was that she was a radiologist who not long before had diagnosed her own breast cancer. On top of that, she recently had divorced and was now a single mom with two young girls. Patti was open to letting me interview her, sleep over, and write about her life. Later, as her illness progressed, I tried to organize some of the neighbors to form a supportive community around her.

Eventually, Patti became mostly confined to bed. At that point, I asked a friend, musician and music therapist Phil Marshall, to visit Patti with me. (See below re: music therapy.) Sitting at her bedside with his guitar, Phil played and sang—mostly classic rock, folk songs, and show tunes. I remember, among others, "Over the Rainbow." But the one I remember most—-and which haunts me still—was Phil's slow, balladic interpretation of the Beatle's "Love Me Do." I think it moved me so much because in my many conversations with Patti, she had spoken candidly both of the joy she found in her deep love for her daughters and of her regret at how other relationships had worked out.

At my request, Phil recorded this version of "Love Me Do" so I could post it for others to hear. When you listen, I hope you'll think, as I do, of my courageous and much-missed neighbor and friend, Patti DiNitto

Here is how the American Cancer Society describes the role of music therapy with cancer patients: "Music therapy is the use of music by health care professionals to promote healing and enhance quality of life for their patients. Music therapy may be used to encourage emotional expression, promote social interaction, relieve symptoms, and for other purposes.

"There is some evidence that, when used with conventional treatment, music therapy can help to reduce pain and relieve chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. It may also relieve stress and provide an overall sense of well-being." (See here)

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