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A Cancer Diagnosis Convinced Amy Kress to Share Her Music

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Amy Kress played music secretly for years. But when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided it was time to share what she'd written.

It was a nerve-wrecking for her to tell people about her music, let alone perform in front of others. Many of her friends didn’t even know that she was a musician. 

Despite keeping it a secret, music has been a part of her life since early childhood. She can’t remember a time when she wasn’t able to play the piano. When she was ten, she played the French horn in orchestras and marching bands. Later, Kress taught herself how to play the guitar and trumpet. She also sang in choir. In her adulthood, she made music at home privately, creating skeletons and parts of songs that she didn’t share with anyone. “I would always think ‘one day’ I’ll do something with it,” she says.

In 2011, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I realized that I may not have one of those ‘one days’ out there. It suddenly became ‘one day.’” She already had years worth of work, which she used as the backbone of her first album. She added extra instrumentation on her work in a Lakewood studio. She called her first album, Secret Music.

“It was terrifying,” she recalls. But she needn't have worried — the album was well-recieved. “Having people validate me was quite nice. People wanting to hear my music really has been encouraging and has inspired me to keep writing entire songs and whole music, and challenge myself.”

Not only has she received positive feedback, but she found the musical experience to be a therapeutic one. “When I sit down and play the piano it’s almost like a massage for me. It’s relaxing and peaceful.”

Kress and her husband separated last year. Then, in September she was re-diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer. She is undergoing treatment and is halfway through chemotherapy. “I’m so emotionally charged by everything that is going on,” Kress says, “I can’t stop writing.” Music has been a way to channel her hardships and give her relaxation and validation.

She is currently working on a third album and is making plans so that when her treatment ends in May she can begin touring and doing shows.

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