Blinded by cancer, girl learns to play the keyboard by ear

KUALA LUMPUR: To her mother, it is heavenly music when cancer-stricken Ngeo Jia Yee gently runs her frail fingers over an electronic keyboard.

The instrument was presented to the 11-year-old by a well-wisher who was touched by her musical talent and interest.

Jia Yee cannot see the keys but her fingers flew over the keyboard as she played the sweet strains of Auld Lang Syne and other lilting tunes.

Tan Kim Lan, 36, said her daughter learnt it all by ear as they could not afford a music tutor.

At their rented room in Selayang, Tan said Jia Yee first learnt to play the instrument after a friend gave her a used keyboard.

Seeing the girl’s talent and interest, a well-wisher later presented her with a new electronic keyboard, which Jia Yee now plays every day.

Tan said the cancer had eaten into Jia Yee ever since she was first diagnosed with retinoblastoma or eye cancer when she was just a two-year-old toddler.

She had her right eye removed; after which, she slowly lost the vision in her other eye.

Earlier this year, the family was dealt another blow when Jia Yee was diagnosed with jaw bone cancer. She started chemotherapy, causing her to lose hair.

Despite her ailment, Jia Yee remains chatty and cheerful.

“She is a very talkative girl and loves to ask a lot of questions and learn new things,” said Tan, a single mother who also has a nine-year-old son.

The father deserted the family eight years ago after Jia Yee was found to have cancer.

Tan, formerly a seamstress, stopped working to take care of the girl, who has not been going to school for the past two months due to her frequent medical check-ups.

“It would have been a greater strain on me if Jia Yee had not been registered with the Welfare Department. We do not have to pay hospital bills,” said Tan, whose mother supports them financially and takes care of her son.

Anyone interested to provide free music lessons to Jia Yee at her home can call Alex at 016-205 2328.

This article was published in on 1st November 2012.