JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Quiet neighborhoods are often disrupted with a screeching guitar in a practicing garage band.
Rarely do you hear the dulcet tones of the tuba.
But it's all 25-year-old Ben Maisonet lives and breaths.
"I know the tuba pretty well," he said. "I've always enjoyed playing it."
It's an instrument that can fill his practice room, brought to life with his breath.
"It's challenging, it requires a lot of air," he said.
But breathing was the challenge for Ben growing up.
When he was five-years-old doctors found a rare form of throat cancer.
"There's this nickle sized tumor in my throat and it was causing me to wheeze," Maisonet said.
Doctors diagnosed him with mucoepidermoid carcinoma, a rare form of cancer.
After years of therapy and throat surgery by age 13, he decided he wanted to take up music.
And for a boy who could barely breath, he chose about the hardest instrument on the planet.
"I wanted to prove a point, let's do this," he said.
He played for 12 years, in college, earned scholarships.
But his medical bills grew and he couldn't pay them.
All he had was his tuba.
So he sold it, getting $13,000 back in 2011.
And he says he hasn't played since.
"Before this weekend it had been 2 years," he said.
He now hopes to soon afford another tuba of his own.
"When I play my tuba it gives me a way to express myself, my own way to sing to someone, to serenade them," Maisonet said.
Maisonet has set up a Gift Forward page. If you'd like to donate and help him reach his goal, click here.
First Coast News