Fox’s highly anticipated new show “Red Band Society” follows six teenagers who create a pact to live and bond together much like “The Breakfast Club.” But instead of a Saturday in-school suspension, these teenagers are in a hospital — fighting for their lives.
It’s a storyline that pulls at the heartstrings and is inspired by the true story of Albert Espinosa, who at 14 years old was diagnosed with a malignant bone cancer.
Espinosa, now 40, lived for 10 years at a hospital in his native Barcelona – beating four types of cancer and losing his left leg, a lung and part of his liver in the process. His struggle inspired his memoir “The Yellow World” and a dramedy series in Spain called “Pulseras Rojas” (“Red Bands”).
“The inspiration for the series, for me, is my original red bracelet,” Espinosa told Fox News Latino. “I have my original bracelet from when I was 14 years old.”
He received his red band when his leg was amputated.
His doctor told him to give his left leg a farewell party, he recalls. So he invited a soccer goalie that he had scored against 50 times – “in reality I only scored one, but they let people with cancer say anything they like,” Espinosa said. He also invited a girl that he used to ply footsies with before ending the night with a dance.
“When they amputated, they asked me if I wanted to give my leg to science. I gave my leg to science but science didn’t want it,” he said. “So I buried it and I can say with complete confidence that I am the only person with one foot in the grave.”
Espinosa said that he has found the humor about his life and experience, especially after learning that he was not losing something, but gaining something more.
“I learned in the hospital that any loss is a gain. I didn’t lose my leg, I gained a stump. I didn’t lose a lung, I learned that I can live with the half I have. And when they amputated part of my liver in the shape of a star, I feel like I have a sheriff inside of me.”
The red band – which Espinosa carries in his pocket all the time – symbolizes not only his struggle for more than a decade, but also the pact he made with his friend’s in the pediatric ward: if one were to die, the others will live for him or her.
“We decided to share out the lives. They couldn’t live the life so I divided between ourselves and I got 4.7 lives,” Espinosa explained. “The incredible thing is when I visit the hospital, the sick kids say ‘my heroes don’t wear capes, they wear red bands.’”
A similar pact is made by the characters on the show, which Espinosa described as “incredible” and it’s all thanks to the producers and the stars of the show, he says.
“I think ‘Red Band Society’ is incredible. It’s a gift,” Espinosa said. “I went to set to visit the kids for the pilot and it’s incredible to explain my history to the kids, to Octavia (Spencer).”
“Red Band Society” premieres on Fox on Sept. 17 at 9 p.m., and Espinosa hopes that viewers understand what they are hoping to get across: that it’s most important to live life to the fullest, even if you are in the hospital fighting for your life.
“We had a saying at the hospital that dying is not sad, but that it’s sad not living to the fullest,” he said. “We didn’t have bikes, but we had wheelchairs. We didn’t go to the disco, but we had seven floors. It’s happiness. My life in those 10 years is happy. It’s gift.”