Bryan Cranston Helped A Fan With Terminal Brain Cancer Complete His Bucket List
The Breaking Bad star heard about his biggest fan's request to meet him after an online campaign took off. BuzzFeed News spoke to the fan to hear his story.
Meet Brad Joyner, a 19-year-old teenager from North Carolina who graduated from high school last year. Tragically, in March he discovered he had terminal brain cancer.
Joyner was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer that required radiation treatment and a year of chemotherapy. Although survival rates vary, the median period of survival is about 14.6 months.
Facing a difficult and uncertain journey ahead of him, Joyner created a list of things he wanted to experience in his lifetime.
Joyner told BuzzFeed News: "This cancer is nasty with a low rate of survival. But I have a strong faith and wanted to really live. So my mom and I made a 'living list'. Some things on the list were simple: Riding in a train. Being on my favorite radio station."
Although Joyner had many things on his list, the three biggest – and perhaps most difficult to achieve – were:
* To swim with sharks.
* To drive a 1967 Shelby Mustang.
* To meet Bryan Cranston, the star of his favourite show, Breaking Bad.
In August, Joyner ticked off the first of his three big dreams by swimming with sharks at West Palm Beach and Florida Keys.
Later that month, after word got out about the list, three Corvettes, two 1950s Fords, and a 2005 Mustang convertible were sent to his house with the help of his local community.
Now there was only one thing left for him to tick off from his list: meeting Bryan Cranston.
Breaking Bad has been Joyner's favourite television show since he first watched it several years ago, and he is a huge fan of Cranston's portrayal of terminally ill chemistry-teacher-turned-drug-kingpin Walter White.
Once Joyner discovered he had cancer, his bond with the character grew stronger because he "didn't feel so alone".
To achieve what would clearly be his most difficult task, Joyner launched an online campaign called #BreakingBrad.
His aunt and his mother came up with the hashtag, which they wrote on the glass doors in his room when he was in the hospital getting ready for surgery.
With the help of friends and family, he spread the word about his dream to meet Cranston.
Every day, Joyner would search online to see where the hashtag had been tagged or photographed.
Joyner told BuzzFeed News: "The #breakingbrad took on a life of its on when my mom posted on Facebook and asked friends to post photos with them holding up signs with the hashtag. This was a reminder to me everyday that people were praying and sending positive energy my way."
He said that he was inspired by the hashtag: "You have to be broken sometimes in life to be made stronger."
The hashtag was spotted in New York, Washington, at the Grand Canyon, on a casino ticker in Las Vegas, and even in front of the Hollywood sign.
Hello everyone. I just want to say thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. With everything that has happened to me in the past couple of months, I honestly can't believe I have cancer. And people ask me how do you do it? How do you live with all the pain? I look and tell them I look past the pain and pray. The doctors are doing the best they can to control the pain. But like I and tell everyone, all I can do is pray. It is hard at times getting around the house but I have an amazing support group here at my house... I believe I have the best support system in the world because I have been blessed with family that helped me mark some things on my living list like swimming with the sharks and having my favorite car in the whole world pull up in our driveway."
But then, just a few weeks ago, Cranston heard about the campaign and agreed to meet him! Here is Joyner's family surprising him with the incredible news.
Joyner's mother told him she was about to get in touch with Cranston and that they had set up a Skype session with the Breaking Bad star.
His mother had promised him that she would find a way for him to meet Cranston, and she delivered.
"We blew up his Twitter and Facebook," Joyner said. "We made pleas to other celebrities and make-a-wish foundations for adults with no luck. In the end, a friend of my mom had a friend that had a connection that led to another connection that led to us Skyping Bryan on Saturday!"
Supporters of the campaign were ecstatic.
Then came Bryan Cranston Day, as Joyner's mother called it.
Here is Joyner preparing for the Skype meeting with Cranston.
Joyner's mother has shared a short video snippet of the meeting in which we can hear her explain to Cranston the idea behind the campaign and how the hashtag gained momentum. You can watch it here:
She describes how her son related to Walter White's transformation, joking, "but not the whole meth-lab thing".
Cranston laughs and quips: “I’ll teach you all that!"
Joyner told BuzzFeed News that they got on great, and that they spoke about Breaking Bad.
"He is freakin awesome!" Joyner said "I told him about my living list and shark diving and riding in my dream car. I asked him if he had a living list what would he do. He is an adventure seeker who is all about the experience of living."
After a 30-minute Skype, their conversation came to an end. But the story didn't end there: Afterwards, Cranston sent an ice cream truck to Joyner's home.
"Yes, my living list is complete!" Joyner said. "I met Bryan."
Now Cranston is sending him memorabilia from the show, and in return Joyner is sending the actor a #BreakingBrad shirt.