Some may know that I’ve been working on a book as of late, it’s about halfway through now and I’m really excited about it. It relays my experiences with the Hollywood machine and my current screenplay (777), which at he moment is being looked at by some production companies (bounced around like a pinball is more like it, just as bells and whistles seem to sound with some great reward, the steel orb falls back past the flippers….ahhh, the life of a picture scribe), and my dealings with a life threatening Cancer diagnosis…there’s also some aspects of quantum mechanics thrown in for good measure (Hugh Everett/Parallel worlds theories/Schrodinger’s Cat/etc.) and the LA party scene as I remember it…
The Novel is called Blastcount. I was lucky to have met a wonderful author through my experiences at the City of Hope Hospital in Duarte, CA (Julie Davey, Author of “Writing for Wellness”) who was working on a book about coincidences (Coincidence or something elese?) . A fascinating tale of how she met another woman across the globe also named Julie Davey who was a writer as well, they even share a similar family background (they teamed up, coauthoring this new book). I told her the story of my life and she was interested…she asked me to contribute a chapter to her book. I was more than honored. I contributed the Prolusion from my book “Blastcount”. It will be published in Julie’s book, due out in two weeks!!
Here’s the website for the book:
My name appears under “contributing authors”
Here’s the prolusion to my book:
I was a screenwriter in Hollywood for 5.5 years before it happened…”more like an errand boy sent by grocery clerks”. Every oddjob you can imagine…retail clerk, legality insurance phone broker, pen salesmen…and every industry job fathomable…PA, talent agency assistant, dishwasher.
Then I signed with The William Morris Agency over the first draft of my latest script…777.
I got Leukemia the same week.
CML…Chronic Mylegenous Leukemia in its earliest phase, the chronic phase. A pill a day controlled my counts. Back to writing.
2.5 months later a producer at a famed production company attached himself to my script. During this week my disease had a reaction to the medicine I was on called Gleevec, this highly uncommon side-effect boosted me into the final phase of CML…what’s called the terminal or blastcrisis phase.
I needed a bone marrow transplant. It would have to be unrelated, my brother was not a match. I had 2-3 months time to find a match before the disease would overrun me. I was 28 years old.
My survival odds were about 10%, I had leukemia in every lymphnode of my body.
After the first round of induction chemotherapy my odds sky-rocketed to 10-15%. Later I would run the gauntlet of more around the clock chemo at higher doses and full body radiation 11 times, for 11 minutes each session. (*11:11 had always been a special number in my family because of it’s spiritual implications and it happened to be my father’s birthday. We always saw this number on clocks and license plates and I could feel him watching over me throughout my whole battle with cancer…he had died of Renal Cell Carcinoma (kidney cancer) two years prior to my diagnosis…the wound was still fresh and ran deep into the subcutaneous emotional strata of my closest family members).
I slowly felt I was becoming a character in my own script.
See…my script was loosely based on an actual clinical trial conducted by the CIA with regards to the drug Lysergic Acid Diethylamide…or LSD. LSD was invented by the famed Swiss pharmacological company SANDOZ in 1943.
I was asked, at the onset of my disease to Participate in a clinical trial for the newest kinase inhibitor drug developed for CML (which is currently the most researched cancer of all, the only known cause of the disease is ultra high doses of radiation, it was found most prevalently in those that survived the original blasts of Nagasaki and Hiroshima)…a splitting of the 16th chromosome occurs…the Philadelphia chromosome. Anyway, the drug was called Nilotinib, created and manufactured by the drug company giant NOVARTIS…a 3rd generation kinase inhibitor, barely out on the market.
My friend and Manager, who helped get me signed with an Agent and take meetings all over town, and who had read my script several times was quick to point out…”You know Novartis absorbed Sandoz a while back, they’re the same company now… they hold all their old patterns”.
Script pages started to re-write themselves in my head. Staccato finger jabs rang out, new scenes played with the nostalgic fuzz of an old phonograph. Were my Doctors molded into the Doctors in the script, had I become #7, my hardboiled protagonist…was he playing my life or was I playing his…did the mental and physical horrors I had exacted for him, the wires spliced inside, the chemicals, the mind-control, was that what awaited me in my so-called “treatment”? The more I learned about the new ways my disease would be combated, the more parallels I drew…
The script imprisoned me, the brass brads held me tight in a cell I had created…and was at this very moment creating, like watching myself in a mirror with brick, mortar, and trowel, encasing myself with my own words…sealing my fate.
A DISHEVELED MAN stands alone in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard. It’s dark, street lamps BUZZ, faded stars attempt to twinkle under the grime on the sidewalks in his periphery. He walks past what appears to be a ghost town with relics of movie theaters on either side…Grauman’s Chinese, the El Capitan, the Egyptian, the Kodak…
A stark hospital room…tubes, wires, chemical bags hang like sickly party balloons.
SLOW ZOOM ON THE DISHEVELED MAN
CLOSE ON HIS EYE
PUSH IN SLOWER ON HIS RETINA
A beat. Another. A HEARTBEAT.
I contemplated the teeming coincidences, I’d have to scramble to re-write the last act of my script, a story that right now was aiming to finish part way down the 28th page.
Here’s my story…
It’s all true…except the parts where the prism of memory bends light here and there on reality. Some fuzzy shards of embellishment. Scraps of lore thrown down to the rats below the neon sewers of Hollywood…to “keep the butts in the seats” as some passionless slob once said. Nourishment for the soul…or maybe just bones to choke on.
But the DISEASE and THE SCRIPT and the PAIN and the PRAYERS and the HEALING…those are all true.
Thank you to my team of Oncologists…
My Nurses…Chemo, Bone-Marrow, and other.
Robin Gammill (my counselor, bone marrow nurse, nurse practitioner, social worker, friend, and SNIP trial coordinator)
Kathy Patene (my bone marrow coordinator)
Kathy Nevis, head of the unrelated bone marrow donor search at the MUDD office.
Anne Chae, social worker.
CITY OF HOPE HOSPITAL
MY MOM, SARAH, FAMILY, FRIENDS, FELLOW CANCER FIGHTERS, AND TOTAL STRANGERS.
THE WHOLE TOWN OF LEOMINSTER, MASSACHUSETTS
AND MOST OF ALL…MY STILL ANONYMOUS UNRELATED, 10 OUT OF 10 GENETICALLY MATCHED MALE BONE MARROW DONOR. I YEARN TO SEEK YOUR IDENTITY AND THANK YOU IN PERSON FOR SAVING MY LIFE
(**The only thing that I do know about this person, besides his sex is that he was 54 at the time of collection/donation of his stem cells, the age my father was when he died and within pounds of my father’s healthy weight before he got sick with cancer, more synchronous cogs clicking my psyche forward in proper guidance).
LOVE TO EVERYONE AND ALL…THERE’S ALWAYS HOPE.
To anyone interested in the book (information about pre-ordering, publishing, etc., or anyone who has a question or just wants to chat) I’ve created an email address to contact me directly:
Thanks for reading and Love to all!!