What Is the Movie "Living Proof" With Harry Connick Jr. About?

by Harry Havemeyer

"Living Proof" aired on the Lifetime Network during the fall of 2008. This movie was based on Robert Bazell's book, "HER-2: The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer," which was based on a true story. The story focuses on Dr. Dennis Slamon, played by Harry Connick Jr., and his efforts to get his breast cancer treatment approved by the Federal Drug Administration and into the hands of patients who needed it.

Setting

The movie takes place from 1988 to 1996 in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The protagonist, Slamon, is an oncologist and researcher at the UCLA Medical Center, where much of the plot unfolds. Clinical trials are also conducted at the facilities encompassing the UCLA Medical Center, while outside subplots take place in the homes of participants in the clinical trials.

Main Plot

Slamon is conducting research on an experimental drug, Herceptin. He believes this drug can treat breast cancer. The pharmaceutical company backing his research and clinical trials has pulled funding for the project, putting the development of the drug in severe jeopardy. Slamon, devoted to his medical research and aiding cancer patients, seeks backing to keep his research going on Herceptin.

Roles

Harry Connick Jr.'s character solicits funding for his research from Lilly Tartikoff, played by Angie Harmon. One of the patients seeking help from the experimental drug is Nicole Wilson, played by Tammy Blanchard. Other participants in the clinical trial are Tish, played by Jennifer Coolidge; Tina, played by Trudie Styler; Barbara, played by Bernadette Peters; and Ellie Jackson, played by Regina King.

Spoiler

Tartikoff gives Slamon the funding needed to continue his research on Herceptin. Although he allowed Wilson, a young mother with stage 4 cancer, to participate in the early trials, she is not allowed to participate in the later stages of the drug's development because she does not meet the stringent standards set by the FDA. Tish and Tina handle the stress of the situation in a lighthearted manner, while Barbara and Jackson ultimately benefit from the Herceptin and become survivors. The drug ends up changing the course of medicine.

About the Author

Harry Havemeyer began writing in 2000. He has written articles for the "San Antonio Express-News" and the "Tulane Hullabaloo." Havemeyer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and philosophy from Tulane University.