"There’s so much bad in this world, people just want something good."
Cancer-stricken patients and the nurses shouldering the responsibilities of caring for them have an ongoing tradition called the “ringing of the bell." The celebratory moment marked by a distinct "dinging" sound signifies an important time—the end of cancer treatment. For whom the bell now tolls is Josh Libman, a 32-year-old man from Norcross, Georgia, who is nearing his last round of chemotherapy. Instead of bells, though, Libman was treated to the big, brass sounds of a local marching band on Thursday, November 10. The cancer-free (almost) celebration was orchestrated by his nurse, Alane Levy.
Libman was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer earlier this summer, which resulted in the amputation of his lower left leg in July. In addition to the surgery, Libman also had to endure intense sessions of chemotherapy that required him to stay in the hospital. With the hospital bills piling up, various moms around Atlanta stepped up to help raise money for Libman’s medical expenses. When Levy read about Libman’s story in a Facebook group for Jewish mothers, she felt compelled to help. Although she couldn’t open her wallet to assist, she opened her heart and offered her care to the cause.
"I couldn't write a check, but I could offer my nursing services," Levy said.
From that moment on, Levy, who helps post-surgery patients recover in their homes, remained by Libman’s side through his chemo treatments and amputation—and she did it all for free.
"I could use the money," Levy said. "But it's about doing the right thing."
With Libman only having one more round of chemotherapy and one final surgery left, Levy thought the joyous occasion should be capped off in an epic way. Since the hospital where Libman was undergoing treatment didn’t have a bell, Levy improvised. This past Thursday, as Libman walked through the front door of his home, he was greeted by the boom of percussionists in his high school alma mater’s marching band. Other band members showed up with their various instruments and pom-poms. While Norcross High School’s band marched down the street, Libman propped up on his crutches, smiling and watching in amazement at the makeshift pep rally created just for him.
Levy pulled off the musical surprise with the help of the band director at Norcross High School. Initially, only 50 band members were supposed to show up with their drums. However, all 150 members came to Libman’s house with their tubas, flutes, drums, and saxophones. Chants of "We believe that Josh will win!" filled the air as members carried a banner that read: "You are loved."
"They [marching band] were the best, most beautiful bell I could've ever thought of," Levy said. "Josh was so excited. I was so excited. And, I couldn't think of anything better to do."
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"There’s so much bad in this world, people just want something good," Levy added. "You’re [Libman] part of something so wonderful, this is bigger than anything we could do on our own."