‘Makes me feel happy inside’: Child cancer survivor teaches Sacramento doctors how to dance

Paul Kitagaki Jr./

Cheers rang out Wednesday as 9-year-old Aiden Adedipe busted a dance move at Sutter Medical Center in midtown Sacramento.

It was a far cry from Aiden’s visit to the hospital when he was 2: Doctors predicted he had just a few days to live after diagnosing the toddler with leukemia. But through the devastating illness, he began dancing and singing as an outlet, said Aiden’s mom, Adeola Adedipe.

Aiden beat cancer and came back to Sophie’s Place at the hospital Wednesday to show staff his dance moves. Sophie’s Place is a room filled with musical instruments for patients to play, allowing them to escape the usually dull clinical medical setting.

“The life that we had prior to the diagnosis was no more,” Adedipe said, while becoming teary. “We lost our identities, our social circles, our financial stability. We lost everything in those two seconds with that diagnosis.”

Dancing created normalcy in their lives and bestowed hope. The mother said she would watch Aiden get chemotherapy and see him dancing and singing during those treatments.

“How can I not be able to conquer my journey when my kid is sitting here ... dancing and singing and doing all these things,” Adedipe said. “It just gave me a different perspective of life.”

A patient’s mental state can also affect their health — dancing gives people something to work toward, giving them added energy and resilience, said Dr. Craig Swanson, the medical director of the Sutter Children’s Center and a pediatric intensive care unit hospitalist who treated Aiden.

Creating resilience through physical, emotional, mental and spiritual outlets can allow patients to beat chronic and acute illnesses, Swanson said.

About seven years ago, Aiden loved to listen to the “Trolls” soundtrack, featuring singer Justin Timberlake. But he dutifully informed reporters Wednesday that he listened to that music too much, and now loves hip-hop.

“I like dancing 1,000 percent,” Aiden said.

Medical staff laughed and smiled as Aiden and his mom taught them dance moves like the Robot and a two-step. He’s also performing at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Light the Night event Saturday at Sutter Health Park.

“It makes me feel happy inside,” Aiden said of dancing.