An East Texas musician is helping to spread joy at the same place where she's getting treatment herself.
GMET’s Brennon Gurley introduces us to the woman who's devoted to sharing her talents with patients.
At UT Health East Texas in Tyler, the sounds of a piano serenade the hallways.
“Music is just good for the soul. It really works on the mind as well as the heart,” explains LaJuana Steele, volunteer at UT-Health East Texas in Tyler.
As her fingers fly over the keyboard, LaJuana Steele has spent more than six decades perfecting the skill
Now, she’s l in gifting her talents by going room to room performing for patients.
“I get back 10 times whatever I give back whether it’s a smile or a song or whatever they appreciate so much, and people need that connection,” explains Steele.
The musician is moved to serve others even when she was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer that metastasized to the lymph nodes.
“Right before Christmas I actually got a diagnosis that my cancer was back for the third time in two years and so for me it was medicine for me even to bring my keyboard up here and be able to play songs,” says Steele.
Steele showcases her musicality throughout the year and during the holidays in hopes of bringing comfort.
There not having to think about the next test, the next IV, surgery, they just got a happy little moment there in time where there suspended and away from all of that.
Songs are requested with the goal of uplifting spirits for cancer patients like Arnaldo Hernandez.
“Music is great I mean no matter what. Music always brings peace in a way,” explains Hernandez.
“So, if I can put a little joy, a little peace, a little comfort into that process it means a whole lot to me,” explains Steele.
The music major is known for bedside performances and Sue Stewart is one of her biggest fans.
“The music is the bonus. The time that someone will give to you it’s special, so very special,” explains Stewart.
Spreading cheer in different areas of the hospital, Steele focuses on making an impact in each room she enters.
“Not only does it take away the pain, but it helps you forget why you’re here.”
Cassie Ebert is the hospital’s volunteer resource manager. She says Steele plays an invaluable role.
“It’s fun to hear just how the mood of the room just totally changes once she goes in and greets them and treats them like family and plays the music,” says Ebert.
Even when emotions run high, she also has a soundtrack of support for her own health battle.
Music does carry a lot of emotion with it whether its happy music or music that’s more dramatic it helps with the feelings that I was trying to cope with.
Right now, LaJuana is still waiting to find out when she’ll have surgery to remove the cancer.