A social media campaign which aimed to get a terminally ill Marvel fan an early screening of Avengers: Endgame has ended in success.
Reddit rallied round user ‘alexander_q’ after he shared a post on the website, asking if anyone had suggestions of how he could make his last wish of seeing Avengers: Endgame come true.
Only five days after the ‘#Avengers4Alexander’ campaign started on January 5, Disney have been in touch with Alexander to ‘discuss options’, much to the joy of the thousands of Reddit users that supported him.
Sharing his story on the Marvel Studios subreddit earlier this week, 33-year-old Alexander, from Australia, explained how he is likely to die before April.
This means he may not see Avengers: Endgame, which hits cinemas at the end of that month, and so he put a plea out on Reddit hoping an early screening could be arranged.
Liver cancer, mouth cancer, bone marrow failure. Will probably be dead before April. I’ve heard of people getting early screenings before. How do I get in on this action?
I’m not a child or anyone with a particularly tragic story. Just a normal guy. I’m 33, lost my sister three years ago to the same rare genetic disease it turns out I have too. I’ll leave behind a devoted girlfriend and an adopted greyhound.
I thought I’d make it to April at least but my bone marrow is toast. Any suggestions?
It didn’t take long for the fellow Marvel fans on Reddit to take the matter into their own hands, giving the post over 96,000 upvotes at time of writing (January 11).
They also spread the campaign onto other social media websites including Twitter, using the hashtag ‘Avengers4Alexander’.
Someone else won't make it to April to see #AvengersEndgame.
We managed to help Keira in the UK, why not this guy? #Avengers4Alexander
Dying Before April: My Endgame https://t.co/w8qFsKWv5U
— Jeremy Conrad (@ManaByte) January 5, 2019
Let's do this for alexander_q.
Get this man a screening @MarvelStudios he deserves it!@Russo_Brothers @Kevfeige @RobertDowneyJr @RobertIger @vincentdonofrio@clarkgregg @DarrellBorquez @asadayaz @stefceretti @spmaslansky #Avengers4Alexander
— MarvelStudiosReddit (@r_MarvelStudios) January 5, 2019
— TC (@TCDoesComics) January 6, 2019
Having struggled with health problems his whole life, Alexander was diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2017 and inoperable liver cancer in 2018 being given 12 months to live, ‘but only if TACE [transarterial chemoembolization] treatment was effective’.
As Alexander explained in an interview with UNILAD, during the treatment doctors discovered he had Fanconi Anemia, a rare disease passed down through families that mainly affects the bone marrow, which was the underlying condition responsible for both cancers.
According to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, ‘the average lifespan for people with the disorder is between 20 and 30 years old, but some patients live into their 30s, 40s and 50s.’
Alexander believes this is what caused his sister’s death in 2014 as she passed away being diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS), a disorder Fanconi Anemia can lead to.
He explained to UNILAD how following his diagnosis with Fanconi Anemia, doctors stopped giving him an update prognosis, especially since there hasn’t been much research done into the condition.
What they do know is that every chemotherapy treatment is dangerous – it could accelerate my bone marrow failure which is the expected progression of Fanconi Anemia.
My medical journey since has been about balancing a gentler form of chemotherapy to the liver against damage to the bone marrow, while monitoring for recurrence of mouth cancer.
After a second TACE before Christmas my blood counts fell enough that I’ve since had a few GCSF injections to boost my neutrophils, but they haven’t worked.
The risk now is infection, or liver failure, which I can’t recover from. I may have more chemotherapy, but it’s uncertain at this point as we monitor my blood. They’ve stopped counting my tumours and just use the phrase ‘extensive multi-focal’.
Since Alexander’s diagnosis he retired from his job as a financial counsellor and has found it harder to enjoy his hobbies, which includes going to the cinema.
He does everything he can though to ensure he sees the latest Marvel films. Here’s Alexander with his girlfriend just before watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2:
A Marvel fan since he was a child, Alexander has seen all the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies so far at the cinema, enjoying how the films show ‘what it means to be a hero, but also the characters’ flaws too’.
Describing Avengers: Endgame as ‘feeling like the culmination of everything that’s come before, the end of a chapter’, Alexander dreams of seeing it but understands, due to his health, this is unlikely to happen.
Sharing his plea on Reddit, Alexander admitted to UNILAD he feels overwhelmed by the support he has received from the online Marvel community.
You can watch a trailer for Avengers: Endgame here:
Alexander also added how the campaign helped him address his illness, saying:
I thought someone might know of a ‘dying-person-request’ inbox at Disney or have similar suggestions. I posted it and went to sleep. I woke up to blog articles about me, YouTube videos, and thousands of comments and private messages.
I feel like an imposter. People talk about how calm and accepting I seem but I’m not really that way. I have panics of mortal terror regularly. I have an amazing support network in my girlfriend and family, and now the world, and the real strength comes from them.
I’m also grateful. I think it’s hard for people who are close to me to talk to me about my death, so generally they don’t. But I want to talk about it.
My greatest hope is that I can stay alive as long as I can, to see as much as I can.
Continuing, Alexander added he hopes people donate to the Fanconi Anemia research fund, a condition the ‘#Avengers4Alexander’ campaign has in turn raised awareness of.
The internet is truly a powerful thing and so yesterday (January 10) Disney contacted Alexander after hearing of the campaign to discuss options.
Admitting he cried when he opened the email, Alexander added to UNILAD he is absolutely ‘thrilled the effort to reach them has worked’.
He also posted an update on Reddit thanking the community, writing:
We did it Reddit!
Disney have reached out and we are discussing options. I cried when I read their email. It’s everything I hoped for and I owe it to all of you.
Whatever Disney arranges for you Alexander, we hope it is everything you wanted and more.
To find out more about Fanconi Anemia and to donate to the research fund, click here.
Avengers: Endgame hits cinemas worldwide on April 26, 2019.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.