Michael James Cuccione (January 5, 1985 – January 13, 2001) was a Canadian actor, singer, dancer, author, and cancer research activist. He was born in Burnaby, British Columbia, and raised in neighbouring Coquitlam.
On July 25, 1994, when Michael was 9, he was diagnosed with stage 2A Hodgkin’s lymphoma — a form of cancer affecting the lymph nodes. He was treated with chemotherapy, but it returned the following year. His second bout with the disease metastasized to his lungs. He underwent more chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, as well as radiation treatments around his heart and lungs. Though cancer-free, had permanent lung problems.
Michael became a well-known campaigner for cancer research and awareness. He established the Michael Cuccione Foundation for Cancer Research and turned his love for music into a fundraising effort by recording a five-song CD, Make a Difference. He also co-authored a book with his grandmother titled, There are Survivors: The Michael Cuccione Story about his experiences battling cancer; his effort eventually raised $500,000. Michael made many in-person appearances on television, radio, at schools and hospitals, and other fundraising events.
In July 1997, a request Michael made to meet Baywatch’s David Hasselhoff led to a role in an episode on the show as real-life cancer victim Charlie Dodson Hays.
The producers of 2ge+her had already agreed to shoot the movie (and later the series) in Vancouver when they discovered Michael and cast him in the part of Jason “QT” McKnight. The series was an immediate hit, as was its soundtrack and the subsequent soundtrack from the show. The spoof boy band became so popular with fans and artists that they went on tour and opened for Britney Spears. The 2ge+her movie was released on February 21, 2000, and the series soon followed on August 15 of that same year, on MTV’s “10-Spot.”
As soon as the second season started taping, Michael soon began suffering breathing problems from complications from his earlier cancer treatments and required an oxygen tank on-set. His problems increased, and soon he had to miss several tapings of the show and public group appearances.
On December 4, 2000, Michael was unable to fight off the effects of a minor car accident and entered the hospital, with pneumonia. He spent the rest of his stay on a respirator and celebrated his last Christmas, New Year‘s, and birthday in the hospital before succumbing to respiratory failure on January 13, 2001, 8 days after his 16th birthday.
Thousands packed the church in Vancouver, British Columbia on the Wednesday evening of January 17, 2001, and again on the next morning to mourn. All four of Michael’s 2ge+her band/cast members were in attendance for both services. Also in attendance was David Hasselhoff, who gave the eulogy and dedicated a song. Both services included a 75-member choir from Michael’s high school, Notre Dame Regional Secondary School. Among the items displayed were pictures of Michael being blessed by the Pope, a giant poster of Michael with a teddy bear, and a massive set of wreaths and flowers. During the Thursday services, a huge procession of limousines, cars, and firetrucks accompanied Michael’s casket through the streets of Greater Vancouver.
- Baywatch (1997) as Charlie Dodson Hays
- 2ge+her the movie (February 2000) as Jason “QT” McKnight
- 2ge+her the series (August 2000) as Jason “QT” McKnight
- Making the Video (August 2000) as Jason “QT” McKnight
Michael Cuccione at the Internet Movie Database