'Anti-Breaking Bad': Man seeks to fight cancer diagnosis with help from around the world

Jay Busbee
Yahoo News

A man in the prime of his life learns he has cancer. He needs money, so much money, to help with his treatment and provide for his family. What does he do?

It’s a storyline familiar to viewers of TV’s recently-concluded “Breaking Bad.” In that scenario, Walter White turned to a life of crime. But this is real life, and Anton Buslov, a journalist from Russia, is determined to find a different path – an “anti-Breaking-Bad,” he calls it. He wants to live … and he wants your help.

Buslov, age 29, was born in Russia, where he worked as an astrophysicist in the Russian space program. A few years back, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and soon found that the Russian medical system offered little in the way of hope.

“We have excellent doctors in Russia, but they are not just fighting disease; they battle bureaucracy, insufficient resources and primitive technologies, as well,” he has written. “In some clinics in Russia they still have the idea of washing a disposable syringe for a second use. In Moscow I was receiving chemotherapy in a center with 30 beds, through which went 250 patients a day and it had only one nurse and one toilet for the lot.”

Buslov worked on some of astronomy’s most scientifically advanced projects, coordinating with NASA to launch satellites designed to study the sun. But he wasn’t paid enough to cover his medical costs, even with side jobs.

Then, in 2011, Buslov got the grim news: he had only about 18 months to live. Russian doctors recommended he go home and prepare for the end.

He wasn’t ready for that – who would be at such a young age? – so he decided to live life as richly as he could in the time he had remaining. He married his longtime girlfriend, both of them understanding the reality but nonetheless wanting to create a family together.

But he still lacked the resources to properly combat his growing cancer. So he took an unusual approach: crowdfunding his treatment.

"I did my research and found out who could treat me,” Buslov told the Huffington Post. “And then they showed me the price tag. $150,000! I walked in circles for two days, slapping my forehead. ... $150,000. How do you find it? And then I thought, you ask for $5. And you ask 30,000 people."

He raised the money, via a viral post on his blog in Russia, in a week.

But the cancer fought back, and now, the prognosis is even more grim … and will cost even more money. He requires a bone marrow transplant, an enormously expensive process not covered by insurance. His doctors, Buslow writes, concede that this process is “generally only available to patients with substantial personal means.”

Buslov is aware that he’s asking something of people that he can never repay. He’s taken his cause to GiveForward, a charitable fundraising site. The hope is that a tiny bit of generosity from many people will add up to a great gift for one person.

“I have hope and I have determination,” Buslov wrote on his GiveForward site. “Most of all I have tens of thousands of friends and a belief that there are even more good people who will befriend me in my time of need.”

To learn more about Buslov and to contribute to his fight, visit his GiveForward site here.