When Sophia Anagnostou saw the Fight Song video about Texas Children’s Hospital’s Main Campus she was determined to create a similar music video about her own experience as a cancer patient at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a part of Texas Children’s she said not enough people know about.
“Everyone knows about Main Campus but no one talks about what’s going on here at West,” said the 13-year-old from Cypress. “This place is great, and at this point, it’s kind of like home to me.”
Almost a year ago, physicians at West Campus diagnosed Sophia with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer that attacks the blood and bone marrow. A team of oncologists and other medical staff at the hospital have been treating the 7th grade volleyball player ever since.
During one of her stays at the hospital, Sophia met Anita Kruse, founder and executive director of Purple Songs Can Fly, a program that provides a musical outlet for children being treated for cancer and blood disorders at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers.
Sophia told Kruse about her desire to make a music video about the relationships she’s forged with the medical staff at West Campus. Kruse explained that she could help her write and record a song but that making a music video wasn’t her expertise.
Sophia understood and accepted Kruse’s offer to help her write and record an original song. In two short sessions at the bedside using a portable studio, Sophia and Kruse created a song that captures the teenager’s unwavering strength and spirit as well as her bond with her mother, brother and medical family at West Campus.
Called “Strength Is In The Soul,” the song is one of the first Purple Songs Can Fly collaborations to be completed at West Campus and, according to Kruse, it won’t be the last. Kruse said she is expanding the program at West Campus and is making plans to create a recording studio at the location.
“Sophia is a great example of what can be done through Purple Songs Can Fly here at West Campus,” Kruse said. “There is a definite need for the program, which offers children undergoing cancer treatment a highly creative, much-needed musical environment to express their many varied thoughts and feelings.”
Sophia got a lot off of her chest by writing her song and soon after she got the chance to release even more emotions by creating what she had hoped for since being diagnosed with ALL – a music video! Anne Hill – director of the “Little Couple” featuring Dr. Jennifer Arnold, medical director of Texas Children’s Simulation Center – learned about Sophia’s wish from Kruse and was more than happy to make it come true.
Hill, along with Houston-based Side Yard Productions, worked with Sophia and West Campus medical staff to make a 3-minute music video set to Sophia’s song. Sophia, her mother and West Campus employees involved in Sophia’s care saw the video for the first time last week at a viewing at the hospital.
“I love it,” Sophia beamed after watching the video for the first time. “It makes me super happy.”
Ashley Edwards, an acute care nurse who has cared for Sophia since she was first diagnosed with ALL, came to the video viewing and said it reflects Sophia’s sweet, upbeat personality perfectly. Sophia’s mother Tara Anagnostou agreed and said her daughter is a trooper.
She said Sophia has experienced some ups and downs while in the hospital and that her daughter has spent a lot of time, including her 13th birthday, being sick. But the staff at West Campus and opportunities such as the ones through Purple Songs Can Fly have kept both of them going.
“Making this video made her so happy,” Anagnostou said of Sophia. “And, that brought me so much joy because I want her to be happy.”