How this Knoxville woman spends her lunch break might bring tears

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tammie Armstrong is an executive assistant at University of Tennessee Medical Center. She spends most of her day with her hands on the keys of her computer keyboard.

Until her lunch break. That's when she gets her hands on piano keys.

"I think it's one of those things that crosses all barriers, everyone seems to enjoy music and can connect," said Armstrong.

She gives up her break to play piano in the waiting room of the Cancer Institute.

"People, when they come here, they're here for different appointments. It can be fearful and stressful, and hopefully when I sit down and play, it can be a soothing tune just to give them some calm and reassurance while they're here waiting," she said.

Research proves music helps relieve pain for cancer patients, reduce stress, lower heart rate and blood pressure.

For Norma Johnson, it helps calm her nerves while she waits for her husband."

"It's a lot of comfort," said Johnson. "They're doing a full body scan right now to see if he's got lung cancer."

And David Wells, who has been waiting on his wife.

"Anybody that spreads joy like that is a special person," said Wells.

Armstrong knows what it's like to sit in these chairs, waiting for news about someone she loves.

"My mother passed away from cancer several years ago and so this is a way to honor her and remember her during that time," she said.

She only plays for half hour, only on her lunch break and only on days her schedule allows.

"It's very rewarding and then I just go back to work," said Armstrong.

Until the next time she can get her hands on these keys. The ones that unlock hope.