19-year-old Brad Joyner had recently graduated high school when, in March, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a terminal brain cancer that required him to undergo radiation treatment and chemotherapy.
After his diagnosis, Brad started putting together a bucket list — or, as he calls it, a “Living List.” “This cancer is nasty with a low rate of survival. But I have a strong faith and wanted to really live,” Brad told Buzzfeed.
Some things he checked off pretty easily (riding in a train) while others were more difficult (swimming with sharks). But his number one item was meeting the star of his favorite TV show: Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston.
Brad’s mom and aunt thought up the hashtag #BreakingBrad and it spread on Facebook and Twitter, with people around the world posing for pictures with signs supporting the campaign.
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“This was a reminder to me everyday that people were praying and sending positive energy my way,” Brad says. “You have to be broken sometimes in life to be made stronger.”
Last month, having completed many of the items on his list, Brad posted a thank you message on Facebook: “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.”
But there was one thing he hadn’t done: meet Walter White himself. That changed last week when Bryan Cranston caught wind of the hashtag and reached out to the family. Watch Brad get the good news:
Brad explains, “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!” The two not only chatted via Skype for 30 minutes, but Cranston sent Brad Breaking Bad swag and an ice cream truck to visit the family.
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You can watch a snippet of their conversation here:
In the video, you can hear Brad’s mom explain how he related to Cranston’s Walter White, a teacher who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and became a drug kingpin. “He could just really relate to the character with the cancer and the transformation,” she says. “Not the whole meth lab drug dealer stuff.”
To which Bryan Cranston laughs and says, “I’ll teach you all that!”