Monthly Archives: October 2013
It was very fitting how I learned of Breaking Bad. A friend and fellow cancer fighter, whose own battle started with melanoma – and later, stage 4 prostate cancer and then some – told me about this cool new show he’d been watching. It featured a very smart, but very broke school teacher working two jobs…and he had lung cancer on top of it all. In other words, someone who’d had enough.
He’d had it to the point where he’d started making and selling meth to pay medical bills and provide for his family…and to make up for the deficits he saw in his own existence.
The main character of the show, one Walter Hartwell White, played to perfection by Bryan Cranston, had also felt the sting of the Big Fuck You Over Money via two former business partners, who’d become billionaires on the back of Walter’s chemistry genius after he left the company. He went near-broke, barely eking out a living as a schoolteacher moonlighting at the local car wash. And now, he wanted his cut of the Big Pie. However he could get it.
Ding! Ding, ding, ding-ding-ding-ding-diiiing!
As the description came out of my friend’s mouth, I was immediately hooked. One cancer survivor who’d been screwed over telling another about a show featuring yet another. There was a love triangle in there somewhere.
As I started to watch back episodes to catch myself up, I saw in Walter White shades of yours truly.
Firstly, cancer. The day of my diagnosis was a game changer. I was never the same. Never looked at things the same way again. Did some things I’m not proud of.
Most of the past years since my diagnosis, I’ve not had access to “the system.” Sometimes I had health insurance, sometimes not. Seeing as I prefer holistic healthcare and treatments other than those offered by Big Pharma-racketed US Sick’n’Pay, I think that was in many ways for the best. For me, it was a good thing not to have access to too many pharma drugs. All they ever did was crash my immune system, making me sicker with each pass. But not so good when I needed a decent and timely diagnostic. Or necessary surgery and dental care.
Secondly, career frustration. Majorly. Won VH1’s Song of the Year, twice. Sold over 100,000 units of my tunes, largely soundtrack and overseas indies. Still no big, life-changing deal, and way too many questions…but I sure found out what “several layers of record label accounting” really means.
Thirdly, financial devastation. Even working through the Big C for the Big Dream. Flashback to 2004. Three jobs. Made Bush proud! Lesson: ‘work hard and you’ll make it in America’ is a great soundbite, but don’t ask me to believe it after all I’ve seen and experienced. Proof in the form of a million-dollar music publishing deal would be far more convincing and practical.
LOL! Don’t laugh – that was my original goal in entering The Biz. That, and access to decent medical. Such was life in these United States.
But now, like Walter White’s ever-increasing monetary goals, mine, too, have grown. Because as anyone who’s experienced the Big Fuck You Over Money can tell you, it puts a fire under your ass. Because life should be more than chasing illnesses, mere survival and the constant mind-chatter of rotating what ifs.
The reason for Breaking Bad’s success is that it touched those same raw nerves in so many millions of others. We all want to Break Big. And some are willing to Break Bad to do it. I can certainly relate.
Which brings me to this point: Breaking Bad was damn close to perfect. So damn close to perfect. Vince Gilligan of X-Files fame made it perfect in every way, except for one little, BIG thing.
I think back to the episode where Walt’s doctor is discussing alternative treatments for cancer – and the off-the-main-drag-but-still-Pharma-biased doctor’s canned response came in like a rainstorm on a parade when he mentioned his uncertainty about the efficacy of such treatments.
So, yes, Hollywood manages to mention alternative treatments. But then there’s the suited Dr. Deus ex Machina, telling us all about a lack of efficacy associated with them.
Anyone else smell the Big Pharma bucks behind that?
Because honestly, that hasn’t been my experience. In fact, just the opposite. Pharma drugs were what created my Big Mess in the first place. Treatments outside of those pushed on us by Big Pharma have largely gotten me back to some semblance of health. But I certainly am still chasing things down, given that FDA-approved drugs almost deep-sixed my skinny ass.
Thus my request to Hollywood: Why not come up with a show that follows a cancer-fighting character, preferably someone who, in “real life,” has or had the disease – WE need the money. And please, make the protagonist someone using alternative, holistic medicine – if alternative even applies to treatments existing thousands of years B.C., aka Before Chemo. Make it a story about someone for whom the system has failed, who realizes the only way out is to Break Brave and follow his or her gut instincts. Kinda like I – and a lot of others – had to.
When – IF – Hollywood Breaks Brave (and decides to go truly free market where cancer treatments are concerned), I’ll be all-in. A 100% FAN! Behind-the-scenes experience tells me that many celebs use alternative, holistic healthcare, but still do and say whatever their corporate paymasters order them to do and say for a paycheck.
Tragic. And certainly not role model material.
When both Hollywood and doctors serve as guides, not gods – and no longer serve Big Pharma to the exclusion of all else over money – that will be the day. And if the day comes when I see universal, single-payer, sliding-scale healthcare featuring a full set of choices for cancer treatments in America, I’ll be first in line.
Yours in Great Health,