The Current

Allison Woyiwada had no speech or memory after brain surgery but she had music

After complicated brain surgery, Allison Woyiwada's family was heartbroken to witness all that she'd lost. But then they realized she still had her music. The CBC's Julie Ireton brings us the moving story of one woman's remarkable comeback through the music she loved....
Listen25:00
After complicated brain surgery, Allison Woyiwada's family was heartbroken to witness all that she'd lost. But then they realized she still had her music. The CBC's Julie Ireton brings us the moving story of one woman's remarkable comeback through the music she loved.

alison-brain-piano-500.jpg

At the age of about nine, Allison Woyiwada was given a gift that would change her life... a piano. Soon she would be performing at church and for friends in her home town of Portage-La-Prairie, Manitoba.

Allison Woyiwada earned a Bachelor of Music... became an opera singer, a composer and for about 30 years, she taught music to thousands of students at Hopewell Public School in Ottawa. In fact, a wing at the school bears her name.

In May 2012 however, Ms. Woyiwada was suddenly threatened with the possibility of never playing music again. But one more time, music would return to change her life.

CBC's Julie Ireton brings us her story in this documentary, Allison's Brain.


"...the second she started playing everyone's heads turned"


After Allison had brain surgery to fix an aneurysm, she could not speak but much to her family's surprise, when wheeled up to the hospital's piano... the musician began to play. Watch the video below.




Meet Cheryl Jones, a neurologic music therapist who worked with Allison in her recovery.


alison-brain-musictherapist-500.jpg

Just a note too... A week from today, Allison will be back in hospital. The titanium mesh that replaced a patch of her skull following brain surgery - is causing headaches. She's having the mesh removed.

Allison and her husband Bob will be releasing their book today, Allison's Brain, in Gatineau, Quebec.


Has music helped you or a loved one recover from surgery?

Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Or e-mail us through our website. Find us on Facebook. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366. And as always if you missed anything on The Current, grab a podcast.


Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.