DOVER — It was a Monday morning, and 47-year-old Joe McGarrity was looking forward to his chemotherapy treatment later that day in his fight with pancreatic cancer.

It wasn’t so much the treatment itself he was looking forward to, but he was able to spend time with musical therapist Jordan Elias, who joined McGarrity in his patient room equipped with a Taylor acoustic guitar.

“I came in here at 10:30 a.m. extremely fatigued and thirsty. He walked into the room, and I feel fine,” McGarrity said of Elias while sitting in a chair hooked up to a machine that was hydrating his body before the chemo treatment started. McGarrity said he has had a lack of appetite, which includes getting enough water into his body, as part of his cancer treatment.

Elias, a board-certified music therapist who works for The Sonatina Center of Dover, spends two days a week with cancer patients at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital’s Seacoast Cancer Center in Dover. He sat close to McGarrity and chatted about music before playing the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.”

“As a music therapist, I am trained to study the science of music and health, create and implement clinical interventions, and use music to promote well being, whether that is to alleviate pain, to reduce stress or to promote self-expression,” Elias said. “The goal is to connect them with the music that reminds them that they are more than a patient. Music is a part of you that can’t be touched by an illness.”

Elias’s goal is to decrease stress and anxiety and to address pain management through music.

“Music therapy has also provided an opportunity for patients to explore the existential question that arises during illnesses such as cancer," he said.

There is also an art therapist that works with patients in the unit to engage in the art-making process during treatment.

Jennifer Jeffers, integrative therapy supervisor at WDH, said the music and art therapy is part of a broader packager offered at WDH, which also includes acupuncture, massage therapy, reiki, clinical aromatherapy, and pet therapy for inpatients. There are also outpatient services that include acupuncture, massage therapy, mind-body approaches to health that is open to the community on a fee for service basis.

Jeffers said the programs are designed to ease stress and encourage healthy lifestyle choices and behaviors, which she believes is key to slowing the American epidemic of chronic disease.

“Our therapies have no side effects or drug interactions and allow the patient to be at the center of the action, free to make choices and be in control of their own health,” she said. “We focus on the whole human being – body, mind, spirit and community. Not just flesh, bones, organ and disease. We strive to combine state-of-the-art conventional medical treatment with integrative modalities that have shown be effective and safe.”

McGarrity, a New Jersey native who lives and Dover, said the music has helped him to remain positive as well as to reflect on his life through music. Before he met Elias, he said he didn’t keep music on his phone, but since has downloaded hundreds of songs. He is also working on learning the ukulele.

McGarrity has been dealing with cancer for several years, even before he was diagnosed in March. His mother died of cancer last November after a three-year battle. During the time of his mother’s cancer, McGarrity was his mom’s cheerleader, always trying to keep a positive outlook. He’s worked to continue that mindset through his own struggle as his daughters help him through.

“Cancer is the best thing that has happened to me,” McGarrity said, adding he works on being present each moment and enjoying the time he spends with others. “Live every day as your best.”

McGarrity said his interactions with Elias help him to keep his positive outlook.

Elias, who trained in music therapy at the Berklee College of Music, said he gets a lot of satisfaction in connecting with people through music, and each patient and their struggles are different.

“Everyone is working through their own illness," he said. "My job is to find ways for music to play a role in that."