Students, MD Anderson staff support music teacher through cancer treatment during COVID-19 pandemic

“You are not alone.” These are just a few of the kind words that Donya’ Easterly came home to find posted on her front door recently. Donya’, a career music instructor and a colorectal cancer patient, has felt the growing anxieties about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) shared by many cancer patients. In addition to worrying about contracting the coronavirus, patients are adjusting to another change: having to go to appointments alone as hospitals like MD Anderson restrict visitors to protect patients from COVID-19. Facing cancer treatment alone – with her students “None of us expected to be sitting in these chemotherapy chairs or going through these scans alone,” says Donya’, who lives alone and now drives herself to her appointments. “It might look like we are going through this alone, but we’re actually all going through this together.” The dozens of handwritten notes that her former students surprised her with on her door reaffirmed this for Donya’, who taught music for over 30 years before her cancer treatment began to significantly disrupt her teaching last year. While Donya’ has had to close her music studio, her past students and their families have become lifelong friends and a strong support system for her. They’ve driven her to chemotherapy over the years and are now bringing her groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The bond I have with these students is like no other, and their support lifts me up,” she says. “I know that no matter where I am or what I am going through, my students of the past 30 years will always be there for me because of the...