Dustin Diamond Remembered in Season 2 of Reboot
- Actor Dustin Diamond, who passed from lung cancer earlier this year, will be honored in season 2 of the Saved by the Bell reboot; he starred on the show as the character Screech for 12 years.
- Dustin passed on February 1, 2021, at age 44 after a brief battle with stage 4 small cell lung cancer.
- Lung cancer treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, and immunotherapy.
Dustin’s Screech was mentioned on season 1 of the reboot, and producers even spoke with him about potentially appearing on season 2 of the show, ABC News reports.
The show’s producer Franco Bario and showrunner Tracey Wigfield knew they wanted to do something special to honor Dustin after his passing. “I didn’t know him and I hadn’t met him,” Wigfield tells Variety. “Just thinking about it as a fan, I knew we wanted to do more than just putting a picture of him up at the end.”
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Wigfield and Bario would go on to write a scene for season 2 that featured the show’s original cast members, Elizabeth Berkley Lauren, Mario Lopez, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Thiessen, and Lark Voorhies, gathered together at The Max to remember Screech.
Dustin landed the role of Screech at the young age of 11 years old, and he performed on the show for 12 years. He was the youngest among the main cast and left an indelible mark on the hit show. Dustin later faced legal battles in adulthood. He also authored a tell-all book with a ghostwriter about his days on Saved by the Bell; some of the stories chronicled in the book about his co-stars turned out to be untrue.
Dustin’s Lung Cancer Battle
Dustin was diagnosed with stage 4 small cell lung cancer, and had a short battle with his cancer. He passed away three weeks after his diagnosis.
Small cell and non-small cell are the two primary types of lung cancers. Small cell lung cancer, which is classified as such from the presence of small blue cells along with several other factors, is almost exclusively found in people who smoke or who have a history of smoking. It also tends to be a more aggressive type of lung cancer.
For treatment, Dustin had chemotherapy, his representatives confirmed. After his passing, his Saved by the Bell co-stars shared their love for Dustin on social media, with many praising his work as well as his character.
Treatment for Lung Cancer
Lung cancer treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, and immunotherapy. Some treatment paths are universal and will be used in both small cell and non-small cell lung cancer. Treatment options for lung cancer will depend on the stage and clinical characteristics of the cancer.
For people like Diamond, who are diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, treatment may be focused on maintenance and quality of life, meaning, attempting to halt the progression of the disease and maintaining the status quo. Treatment options in stage four cancer can include chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy – or some combination of both.
The goal of treatment of stage four lung cancer is to provide therapy that is systemic, meaning it goes everywhere in the body so that it can attack all the cells that have spread. The most common form of systemic therapies includes chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. Specifically in patients with small-cell lung cancer, like Diamond, treatment options for stage four lung cancer are a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. For patients with non-small cell lung cancer, treatment depends on specific aspects of the tumor.
For non-small cell lung cancer, doctors have several ways to decide between using chemotherapy or other agents. When speaking about deciding between chemotherapy and targeted therapy in an earlier interview, Dr. Ronald Natale, a Medical Oncologist at Cedars-Sinai, said, “Among patients who are nonsmokers, or former very light smokers, we identify a mutation that we can target with pills in about 60% to 70% of them.” This type of treatment is called targeted therapy. “…So we’re giving chemotherapy to about 30% to 40% of patients who are nonsmokers.” This 30%-40% that Dr. Natale refers to are those patients whose tumors do not have mutations that targeted therapy can treat or are not candidates for immunotherapy. These patients will largely be treated with chemotherapy.
Dr. Natale explained, “Among patients who are smokers, who have more complex cancers that have hundreds, sometimes thousands of mutations, don’t have a driver mutation that we can give a pill for, which is only a tiny percentage of lifelong smokers. Chemotherapy is the primary treatment in the majority of those patients.”
For people with stage four non-small cell lung cancer or metastatic lung cancer, the cancerous tumor is tested for biomarkers to see if targeted agents can be used. In addition to deciding between chemotherapy and targeted therapy, the doctor will also test the lung cancer to see if immunotherapy is a treatment option.