UK HealthCare

Markey Patient, Musician Inspires A Bluegrass Legacy

Creative Arts program with banjo
Daphne Scruggs Fields

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 8, 2019) – During her time as a patient at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, Daphne Scruggs Fields found joy through music therapy. Now, a generous gift in her honor ensures that legacy will continue.

A young wife and mother of two from Frankfort, Ky., Daphne was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, a particularly aggressive and difficult-to-treat type of breast cancer that often affects younger women. During her time at Markey, Daphne discovered the Creative Arts Therapy program at UK.

With a presence on UK’s campus beginning in 2011, the Creative Arts program offers both music and art therapy for patients. Music therapy uses evidence-based musical interactions to address non-musical goals.

“That goal can be physical, emotional, social or cognitive,” said Cheryl Benze, the Creative Arts Therapy program manager. “It can help patients deal with pain, stress, anxiety, tough diagnoses, extended stays, end of life care, and many other complex feelings and situation.”

Through the program, any physician can request this type of therapy for a patient.

That may take many different forms, from singing and playing instruments to writing songs and engaging in musical movement.

“It’s not like going to a concert and listening,” Cheryl said. “What we do is much more intentional and involves many creative activities.”

For Daphne, a well-known musician in her community, this music program made a world of difference.

“Daphne was a talented musician and played the upright bass and banjo in many different bands,” said Melissa Mills, Daphne’s aunt. “Music is great for the soul, and Daphne and our entire family believes that wholeheartedly.”

Daphne enjoyed the music therapy program so much so that upon her passing in 2013, her family knew she would want to give a gift to the program. The Scruggs family established a non-profit organization called Daphne’s Legacy, Inc., which supports research on triple negative breast cancer, including the work of researchers at Markey. The organization also recently donated a banjo to the Creative Arts Therapy program.

“When we saw a banjo on their wish list, we felt as if Daphne was present, and it was a no brainer,” said Melissa, who founded Daphne’s Legacy. “Our hope is that the instrument that Daphne taught herself how to play will bring much joy to others and be heard throughout the halls of the hospital.”

The donated banjo has already become a popular instrument with patients.

“We have a lot of patients that love bluegrass music, and it’s great to be able to provide that for them,” said Cheryl. “It brings familiarity and positivity.”

This gift is meaningful not only to the patients, but also to the Creative Arts staff.

“Our work is what we do, so it’s easy to forget the impact it can have. We were able to help Daphne during a very trying time, and that really validates what we do,” Cheryl said. “Now, her gift will continue to benefit patients in our department for a long time to come.”

Daphne’s Legacy is also hosting two upcoming events in April to support triple-negative breast cancer research through the Markey Cancer Foundation:

  • The Daphne’s Legacy 5K run/walk will take place Friday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Lakeview Park in Frankfort, Ky.
  • The following Saturday, April 13, the organization is hosting a concert and silent auction benefit at Investor’s Heritage Auditorium in Frankfort beginning at 6:30 p.m.

To learn more about these events and to donate to Daphne’s Legacy, visit