Many people may know Michael Cuccione from his role as Q.T. on MTV's hit show about the boy band 2Gether. Although the show and band started out spoofing boy bands like the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC the group became successful, put out two albums and even opened for Britney Spears. But when you look at Michael's life, this was probably the least of his accomplishments.
Michael Cuccione was diagnosed with a type of cancer called Hodgkin's Disease in July of 1994 when he was only nine years old. He went through six months of chemotherapy treatments and was thought to have been cured, but the cancer returned. This time, it really damaged his lungs. Again, Michael went through major chemo sessions around his heart and lungs and a bone marrow transplant. Luckily, the treatments were a success and by '96 Michael had been cancer-free for a year. But just because Michael Cuccione seemed to be done battling cancer inside his body, he wasn't done battling it outside.
On March 12, 1997 he formed The Michael Cuccione Foundation. The Foundation tries to make people realize the ongoing need to fund cancer research. The money raised provides emotional support for cancer patients and their families and helps fund cancer research, among other things.
To help raise money for his cause Michael Cuccione recorded a CD in 1996 called Make A Difference composed of inspiring songs - but that was only the beginning. He also wrote a book with his grandmother called There Are Survivors: The Michael Cuccione Story which talks about his struggle with cancer and being a survivor. He even recorded the CD and wrote the book while he was in the hospital.
Michael Cuccione continued to raise money and promote awareness by sharing his battles with the disease every chance he got. He had a guest-starring role on an episode of Baywatch in 1997 playing a boy who dies from cancer. Michael became good friends with David Hasselhoff, during the filming. He also appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay and the The Dini Petty show to promote his CD and talk about his foundation. Shortly after Michael met with Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien, the PM granted $60,000,000 to various researchers across Canada to be used towards developing a cancer vaccine. After all this hard work, by the end of 1997, 12 year-old Michael Cuccione had raised over $175,000 for the Michael Cuccione Foundation. A year later, he went to Rome and was blessed by Pope John Paul II.
Michael Cuccione passed away on January 13, 2001. His passing was due to respiratory failure. His lungs were weakened from previous chemotherapy treatments and he had been fighting respiratory problems for months. Though he was only 16 when he died Michael Cuccione had lived a full life. The world didn't just lose Q.T. they lost a true hero.
For more on the Michael Cuccione Foundation check out www.makingadifference.org.