Latest News

December 02, 2016

A Time of Transition

Since its beginning in 1996 the Jeffrey Frank Wacks Memorial Fund has grown and expanded its presence, its programs and its commitment. New and promising treatments are reported in the news every day. Medical practices are combining their efforts to better serve their patients and offer access to treatments and cancer facilities across the globe.

Here at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center we are witnessing change as well. Our best wishes to all of the doctors and staff at Regional Cancer Care who have joined Summit Medical Center and affiliated with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. During this time of transition our programs will continue to be offered to their patients and families. Many of our workshops are open to anyone in the community.

The Jeffrey F. Wacks Music Therapy program will continue to service the patient population at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center and on the inpatient and palliative care units at Morristown Medical Center. 

Learn about our programs:

When is the next “Healing Through Drumming”? Can I attend the combined music and art therapy program? When will “Listening is Healing” resume? Are there music therapy tips that I can use at home? Who was Jeffrey Wacks? Who is the latest Wacks Scholar from Washington University in St. Louis?

Our website will be updated more frequently to keep you apprised of new programs and important dates and times for the events you presently attend, or are contemplating attending.

Donate online: 

Go to our Donate page to donate online. We will send tribute and holiday cards for you or we will mail packets of cards for your personal use.

If you prefer, you can donate to our Fund by mailing a check made out to the JFW Memorial Fund to:
P.O. Box 6
Convent Station, New Jersey 07961

We can be reached at 973-285-0963.

Music Therapists’ Updates

Leah Oswanski, MA.LPC,MT-BC and Erin Bolding, MT-BC continue to treat patients privately at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center and on the inpatient Simon Five and Weinstein Palliative Care Unit. Referrals are constant and the need for their services is strong. Their expertise with end of life issues is beneficial to many appreciative families.

In November, Leah Oswanski will receive the Professional Practice Award from the American Music Therapy Association. This award is bestowed on professionals who have made a significant contribution to the practice of music therapy by utilizing special skills and/or knowledge in therapeutic practice, clinical supervision, education and/or administration. Leah’s colleagues recognize her high level of skill, dedication to her work and the enormity of her abilities. We who know her and work with her applaud their choice. Leah will also be presenting a session at the American Music Therapy Associations’ National conference on LGBTQ issues in music therapy.

In November, Leah Oswanski will receive the Professional Practice Award from the American Music Therapy Association.  

The research protocol: A Mixed Methods Study of Music Therapy Nurse Referral Patterns and Outcomes of Pain and Anxiety continues on Simon 5. The study is at the midway point with interesting and thought-provoking data being compiled. We will report the study outcome at its completion.

Erin Bolding and Catherine Asher, MA,ATR-BC have collaborated to offer a drop in group combining music and art therapy for patients and family members with a focus on stress reduction and anxiety. It is a unique way to increase and encourage creative expression. The walls of the Cancer Center hallway are often lined with art from our patients and their caregivers.

The coming year promises to offer a continuation of all of the popular programs and a plethora of new ones.

Bob Egan Honored at Music in the Atrium
, October 21, 2015

Our “piano man” has played for thousands who have walked through the cancer center on any given Wednesday and has left an indelible mark on every one who has crossed his path.

Music in the Atrium’s pianist extraordinaire was honored for his dedication, passion and enormous talent. Our “piano man” has played for thousands who have walked through the cancer center on any given Wednesday and has left an indelible mark on every one who has crossed his path. His engaging smile, intuitive nature and love of music have added a a priceless dimension to Music in the Atrium.

He began cautiously fifteen years ago, eager to share his talent with others. Bob was unsure of how people dealing with cancer treatments and its side effects would respond to him. Each week he captivated more and more visitors with his smile, his music, his uncanny ability to light up a room. He is the first to proclaim, “As much as we give to the patients, I get a constant gift back from them.”

Today, his friends are singing, requesting their favorite songs and applauding his talent. They come each week to hear him and feel his warmth — some who have long ago completed their treatments.

Bill and Barbara Donzeiser scheduled appointments on Wednesdays to enjoy the unique and uplifting atmosphere in the lobby and to hear Bob play. Bill’s cancer prevented him from enjoying the food, but he never forgot the day that Bob honored his request to play a love song to his beautiful wife, Barbara. Bill died recently; His grateful family chose to honor the Jeffrey F. Wacks Music Therapy Program with donations in Bill’s memory.

Jo Tocci-Cornelison and her family also loved Wednesdays. Bob and the caring volunteers who create a cheerful atmosphere helped her face her appointments with a smile. She lived with cancer for many years showing her warmth and beauty whenever she entered the room. Our scrapbooks have pictures of this special woman accepting a bouquet of flowers and singing along with Bob. Jo’s family requested Bob to play at her funeral and they too asked family and friends to support music therapy in her memory.

Bob has embraced Music in the Atrium and we honor and love him for helping us to make it thrive.

Music Therapy Events

Music in the Atrium on Wednesdays

Our most well attended music event occurs each Wednesday in the Carol Simon Cancer Center Lobby. It takes dedicated volunteers, an accomplished pianist, food purveyors and wonderful donors to make this happen. And it’s been happening for fifteen plus years. As the cancer center transitions and reinvents itself, the volunteers and the Jeffrey F. Wacks Music Therapy Program are determined to keep Wednesdays special. We know that an inviting atmosphere helps allay fear and anxiety. We know that a well-trained caring volunteer can change someone’s mood and make a difference for a family member who is waiting for a loved one. Music in the Atrium will continue to be a part of the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center. Our schedule may change a bit; please check our Events page for updates.

We know that an inviting atmosphere helps allay fear and anxiety.

Thank you to all of the people who have made this program a success and to all who are dedicated to helping it continue.

Ice Cream Social 

Thank you to Marilyn and Bill Glassner for sponsoring our annual Ice Cream Social. More than 340 guests and staff were treated to Cliff’s ice cream and all the toppings on a steamy Wednesday in August. Marilyn and Bill’s generosity provides a day of enormous smiles and excitement. It is an important time for us to thank the staff the doctors and everyone at the Cancer Center for their dedication to the patients and their families. Ice Cream Social Wednesday makes everyone happy.

Volunteer Music Performances

Jazz duo Vince Maiolo and Steve Minzer share their love of music and play for our visitors every Tuesday in the lobby. A huge thank you to these volunteers who are favorites of the staff and the patients.

Summer Music Concert Series

The Summer Concerts were well attended and made even better by the BBQ lunch served by the Motown Café. A round of applause for Strato G, led by Tony DePaulo, The Ernie White Duo, and the Joe Valado Duo; they entertained the staff and visitors under gorgeous skies and made lunchtime a better meal for all.

Healing Through Drumming

Healing Through Drumming is the fourth Tuesday of every month from 7-8:30pm in the Mind/Body Room at the CGSCC. No registration is required and the program is free to all. Parking fees are in effect. The program will not run in December.

Listening is Healing

Listening is Healing, a partnership with the Festival Orchestra of NJ will resume in November.

Be certain to check our Events section for updates and changes.

The Jeffrey Wacks Scholarship

Danielle Taylor Leventhal, 2016 Wacks Scholar
, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis

Danielle Leventhal graduated magna cum laude this past May with a double major in painting and art history. She is currently using the Wacks scholarship to rent a studio in New York City and continues to create art while working at a nearby gallery. Danielle is intrigued by people and human contact. New York City and the bustling areas that surround it offer this gifted painter a vast population of subjects and stories. This October Danielle was featured at the Scarsdale Library in Scarsdale NY in the show “Generations: Art of the Leventhal Family,” a tribute to two generations of artists, Danielle, Danielle’s grandfather, Dr. Jerry Leventhal, also a painter, and her younger brother Alex, a photographer.

“How does the artist depict the human being, in all their mystery and depth, in a single frame?”

“My work raises the question: How does the artist depict the human being, in all their mystery and depth, in a single frame? Exploring color theory through the application of paint, layers of printmaking and mark-making, I portray my friends and family. I work with both live models and photography as sources. I am interested in the brain and the human ability to be naturally empathetic, and how one can intuitively tune into another person’s emotions and intentions.” 

Danielle is a gifted artist. The Wacks family is honored and privileged to include her amongst the other recipients of the Jeffrey Frank Wacks Scholarship at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts.

To learn more about Danielle please visit her website: