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Nurse Convinces Chemo Patient To Pick Up Guitar. Before Long, They're Singing Christmas Classic

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An oncology nurse from Nashville brought her guitar to work to sing alongside Penn Pennington, a longtime Nashville musician who is fighting cancer.

Alex Collazo, 24, works as a registered nurse at TriStar Centennial Sarah Cannon Cancer Center in Nashville. She recently met cancer patient Penn Pennington, who is going through chemotherapy, and could tell he needed some cheering up.

“I admitted him to the hospital and we got to talking, so I asked him to tell me something fun about himself. I could tell he was kind of down,” Collazo told the Tennessean.

Pennington, 67, told her that he had been skydiving some 1,250 times and Collazo shared that she had a passion for music.

Pennington happened to be quite the musician himself, working as a session guitarist in Nashville for 30 years and performing with Jack Greene at the Grand Ole Opry for 23 years, his daughter Brandi Leath wrote on Facebook.

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When Collazo came to work on Sunday, she brought her guitar along and gave it to Pennington so that he could accompany her while she sang.

Collazo belted out an impressive “O Holy Night,” while Pennington accompanied her on guitar, adding perfect harmonies at all the right times.

Leath took a video of the pair’s duet and posted it online, where it quickly began to gain traction.

“My dad’s nurse, Alex, heard that he was a guitar player so she brought her guitar for him to play during his chemotherapy treatments and sang O Holy Night with him. Who knew she could also sing!!” Leah captioned the video.

Collazo said her nursing team puts “compassion” into their work and that she was able to extend compassion to Pennington though the power of music.

“He’s going through something so rough and so terrifying, and this was something I could do for just a moment in time to help him forget he was in the hospital and what was going on,” Collazo said. “This is what we do on our floor. We put compassion into everything.”

Leath agreed that music was good for her father’s soul.

“Music is such a wonderful healer. I was completely, totally moved by this,” Leath told the Tennessean.

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Pennington said he was glad for the distraction from his cancer treatments.

“Any time you go in the hospital for cancer, it’s automatically a downer. This was an escape, for a while. It was a good thing,” he said.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
Page, Arizona
Bachelor of Science in Music Education
Phoenix, Arizona
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Lifestyle & Human Interest