Cancer survivor overcomes obstacles to play music again

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A talented musician dedicated to his art, Daniel Stover is alive because of the breath through his saxophone.

"It's a voice. It gives me a voice," he says.

That voice was silenced in 2008, when cancerous brain tumors caused a devastating stroke.

"He wasn't able to ambulate or walk, he wasn't able to speak, swallow, close his mouth on his own, he wasn't able to use that left hand," recalls Maegan Morrow, Neurologic Music Therapist at TIRR Memorial Hermann.

"One day his body works, the next day it doesn't," added Jeri Brooks, Stover's nurse at TIRR.

After months of hard work, the two got him walking and talking again. His left hand never recovered.

Morrow says, "I remember going into his room and bringing in the little flute, or recorder, that you would find at a Dollar Store and I asked him if we wanted to at least try to play that one-handed."

Determined, he practiced for weeks, then surprised Brooks with a performance.

"He played Happy Birthday to me, and he struggled, but he played it," she says.

A plastic recorder, though, wasn't enough. He found a man in Nebraska to convert his saxophone into a one-handed version. Today, after three years of learning to play with one hand, he held a concert for other TIRR patients and a special "Happy Birthday" song for Brooks.

This weekend, Stover joined the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra for a concert celebrating musicians with disabilities, a big accomplishment.

CLICK HERE for more information on the TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital music therapy program.

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