When Yamaha Corporation of America heard that a young man undergoing treatment for a rare bone cancer wished to learn how to make music with a saxophone, they rushed to grant his wish.
In 2014, Ivan Lisitsyn, 16, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma of the bone, a rare cancer that usually attacks those 10-20 years old. He had been treated for it before in his native Ukraine, but the disease returned. His family did some research and found that one of the top locations for treating this rare cancer was at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. But that would mean long trips from Ukraine to the United States for him and his father, a computer programmer – the rest of the family would remain at home on the other side of the Atlantic.
Yamaha worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with life threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy, to get Ivan a brand new YAS-875EXII saxophone, that retails for $5,911, and other materials. He received the sax at Fort Bend Music Center in a special presentation ceremony held recently.
Ivan loves music, and started learning to play the clarinet at the age of eight at Youth Music School #5 in Nikolaev, Ukraine. He planned to learn the saxophone once he mastered the clarinet.
“I became interested in the saxophone when I heard how nice this instrument sounds,” Ivan said through an interpreter. “My preference for music is mainly classical, but I also like jazz.”
Though the illness has prevented his return to music school, he still wanted to take on the unique brass instrument. While at the Houston center, oncology physician assistant Whitney Throckmorton heard of his desire, and knew he would have lots of time on his hands while going through treatment and recovery, so she contacted Stephanie Payton, wish coordinator at Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana with the unusual request.
“This special wish fits right in with our company’s commitment to helping educate young music makers,” said Brian Petterson, marketing manager, wind instruments, Yamaha. “I know that with his musical abilities Ivan will be making some great music with it.”
Wanting to expedite Ivan’s wish, Petterson got the brass instrument with the soulful sound, along with mouthpiece, ligature, reed, neck-strap and case, and four music books Ivan wanted to help him learn to play it, on their way to Texas.
Meanwhile Sergey, Ivan’s dad, is looking forward to his son’s learning to play the saxophone with love.
“Learning a complicated instrument like the saxophone takes a lot of effort, and I hope this will help him through his illness and recovery,” he said through an interpreter.