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Watch nurse sing beautiful Christmas duet with patient in cancer ward

Penn Pennington, a patient at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at TriStar Centennial and his nurse, Alex Collazo sing Christmas song, 'O Holy Night,' in cancer ward.
/ Source: TODAY

A video showing the sweet musical moment between an oncology nurse and a patient has gone viral.

Alex Collazo, a nurse at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute joins longtime Nashville guitarist Penn Pennington for an acoustic duet of "O Holy Night" in the video filmed by Pennington's daughter.

Pennington, 67, was first diagnosed with low-grade follicular lymphoma in 2010. After six chemotherapy treatments, his cancer went into remission. But over the summer, he was told it had returned.

"I've been told that it's more life threatening, it's more aggressive, fast-growing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma," Pennington told TODAY.

"The particular plan for treating this strain of lymphoma has been inpatient in the hospital, five days worth of chemo. Because it's so aggressive, we're having to hit it really hard."

When Pennington was admitted to the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at TriStar Centennial for this intense round of chemo therapy last week, his emotional state was down. "To find out the cancer is back ... it's not something that anybody really wants to hear about themselves," he said.

What ended up changing that was his nurse, Alex Collazo.

"I wanted to do something for him to help him forget that he was in the hospital and just bring him some happiness," Alex Collazo told TODAY.
"I wanted to do something for him to help him forget that he was in the hospital and just bring him some happiness," Alex Collazo told TODAY.Brandi Mykle Leath/Facebook

"When she came into the room, she was just so bubbly and so positive about trying to make sure that I felt comfortable, that I felt reassured that they were going to be on top of this and that they were going to be here for me," he explained. "And she asked me, 'Tell me something fun about yourself.' And then I said, 'Well, I've skydived 1,252 times.'"

Soon, the duo learned that they both shared an affinity for music, as Pennington returned that question to Collazo, who revealed she loves playing the guitar.

Pennington, who played downtown bars and even the Grand Ole Opry, was gifted a guitar at the age of 9 by his father and has never put it down since. So when Collazo revealed she too loved to the play the guitar, an instant bond was formed between the two.

"We connected with our musical interest and I wanted to do something for him to help him forget that he was in the hospital and just bring him some happiness," Collazo, 24, told TODAY. "So I brought him my guitar and here we are now."

After Collazo brought in her guitar, the pair first sang a cover of Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling In Love With You." But it was their duet of the holiday classic “O Holy Night” that was captured on camera by Pennington's daughter, Brandi Mykle Leath, that ended up going viral after she posted it on Facebook.

"I've made it a point in my career to bring happiness and laughter to my patients because they're going through such a dark time in their lives," Collazo explained to TODAY. "They're having a rough go and I really wanted to make a point for all my patients to help them forget that they're in the hospital and what they're going through for a few minutes, whether it's joking around with them or telling them crazy childhood stories or I guess, now, playing music."

As of Wednesday afternoon, the video has accrued more than 225,000 views, more than 4,000 shares and over 500 comments.

"Absolutely beautiful voice. This nurse is amazing. Prayers for you and all those taking Chemo treatments," wrote one person.

Another commented, "Wow. Her voice made me tear up. Absolutely beautiful show of compassion on so many levels."

Collazo says she thinks people are drawn to her story with Pennington because "there's so much negativity in the world."

"You watch the news and you go on the internet and all you see is just all these bad things happening, whether it's shootings or accidents, people dying," she added. "We as humans like to hold onto the little bits of positivity and those moments that show true human compassion to let people know that there's still goodness in the world, you know, and that we're not all doomed."

"I think if it helps touch somebody's heart and makes them feel warm, I'm all about it," Pennington said of his viral moment. "I think it's wonderful, if they can share it and maybe spread the love, maybe the world would be a little better place."