There are many labels that define Jenny Ahlstrom: wife, mother, musician and entrepreneur are a few of them. But one label she won’t let control her is cancer patient.
Four years ago Ahlstrom received some very bad news when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma — a rare blood cancer.
“Myeloma is a terminal disease," she said. "There isn't a cure for it so I chose a very aggressive therapy with two tandem stem cell transplants.”
During her treatments she was in isolation, away from her family for over seven months. Music became her solace.
“There is a lot of anxiety that can go into your treatment and when you put that music on, everything else just kind of goes away," she said. "I would listen to music that would relax me and I would listen to music that would inspire me. It just carried me through that experience.”
While still in treatment Jenny went to a concert where Alex Boye performed "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me." After the concert she felt compelled to use music to help other cancer patients.
“I left there thinking I wish I could put together some kind of album or CD that had uplifting music, inspiring music," she said.
So Ahlstrom drew from her background in technology and her love for music to create an online music contest called Songs for Life where artists donate an original or cover song and promote it on their own social media sites to get likes. On Nov. 30 the field of songs will be narrowed to the top 20 and a panel of professional musicians will choose 12 winning entries.
After the final selection winners will record their final versions and the songs will be complied and mastered onto the Songs for Life 2015 album. All proceeds from the album will be donated to cancer research.
“It has surprised me that people from all over the country are participating," Ahlstrom said. "These are people who have this really strong emotion about wanting to help and wanting to pitch in and wanting to participate.
“We had two musicians from LA whose mothers both had breast cancer at the same time. We have another song from someone whose wife was his caregiver while he was going through cancer treatment and he wrote the song for her. There is a 12-year-old who sang a song for his aunt who has breast cancer, which is really, really remarkable.”
The album will be produced early next year. They’re also planning a concert for next summer. Ahlstrom is hoping to make this an annual contest.
“Music can convey things that words can't convey," she said. "It's hard to describe the feelings that it brings and the hope that it can give you.”
For more information or to vote for the songs go online to www.SongsforLife.org.