West Coast Punk Royalty Fighting for a Cancer Free Generation

Green Day rocker Mike Dirnt talks about wife’s devastating cancer battle and what’s next for the band

Breast cancer survivor, Brittney Cade Pritchard, & her husband, Green Day’s Mike Dirnt, were honored at Tower Cancer Research Foundation’s 5th Annual Ante Up for a Cancer Free Generation. Photo by Tiffany Rose

Following a tumultuous few years watching his wife, Brittney Cade Pritchard, battle breast cancer, Green Day bassist, Mike Dirnt, is thrilled to have her back in good health and determined to continue doing his part to help fight the deadly disease.

Rock and Roll Globe caught up with the legendary bassist at the Tower Cancer Research Foundation’s  ‘Ante Up for a Cancer Free Generation’ poker event in Los Angeles, where he and Brittney were honored for their efforts to share their story to help others. Proceeds from the event benefited TCRF’s Cancer Free Generation division, which funds innovative scientific research to conquer cancer.

“It’s surreal to look back on it because we went right back into our lives, but to the same degree, it’s really nice to pay it forward,” Dirnt explained in regards to having made it through the difficulty of recent years. “You make a lot of promises in your prayers when you’re going through something like this and now it’s time to pay it forward and see if we can help other people.”

“The reason we’ve got to support research and these young doctors trying to further medicines and cures is because the medicine that saved Brittney’s life did not exist not too long ago,” he continued. “I truly do believe, superheroes wear lab coats and smocks.”

Brittney was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, news which devastated Dirnt, who was suddenly faced with keeping his family together while watching his wife fight a potentially fatal illness. Then there was the heartache of having to help their two young children, Brixton and Ryan, through the ordeal.

“That was tough,” admitted Dirnt, who also has a daughter, Estelle, from a previous relationship. “It was probably toughest on our youngest daughter, but we just decided to treat each day as it came and be strong and Brittney really decided to be strong for our children and document everything. Children are pretty resilient and I’ve got to say, my wife is pretty resilient too.”

“But we had to relocate our family and figure out what our plan was and that was the hardest part,” he added. “The better parent was all of a sudden stricken with cancer – I definitely think she’s the better parent! So, I needed help with the family.”

Dirnt says Tower Oncology were instrumental in helping the family process the news and devise the best course of action for the couple, who tied the knot in Ojai, California, in 2009.

“The more information you have the better and more educated decision you can make about what your treatment plan is going to be, and Tower Oncology was wonderful with that,” he says. “They had 13 doctors look at her case just like they do with everybody – we were not a special case. They looked at it and laid out our best option plans and that was incredible.”

Green Day drummer, Tre Cool, attended the star-studded fundraiser to support his bandmate, telling Rock and Roll Globe that Brittney’s illness was just as scary for the band, who were founded in 1986 and are behind rock anthems like, “American Idiot” and “When I Come Around.”

Green Day’s Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt at Tower Cancer Research Foundation’s 5th Annual Ante Up for a Cancer Free Generation. Photo by Tiffany Rose

“It was terrifying when we got the diagnosis,” said Tre, who attended the event with his pregnant wife, Sara Rose Wright. “Then it was like, ‘Okay, whatever you need to do. Just get through it.’ There’s no easy way to go through it; you just have to keep moving and push through. There was never any doubt that she was going to beat it. Brittney’s strong and a survivor and we’re all very proud of her and love her.”

Documenting her journey on Instagram, in what became a diary of her illness, Brittney persevered through chemotherapy, a grueling nine surgeries and endless appointments to kick the disease. Through social media, she has also become a go-to for other breast cancer patients wanting advice or encouragement.

After being honored at the event, at the Sofitel Hotel in Beverly Hills, she took to social media to thank Mike for his support and encourage others fighting the illness to never give up.

“You’re never really over the other side,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “After cancer, I’ve picked up all the pieces as best I could, I’m forever grateful for my rock of a husband, who has always been by my side, never doubting me, always praising me, knows me all the way to the core. Michael, I am internally blessed to have you always and forever, I thank God for you every day! We’re not over ‘the other side’ but feel WE ARE the other side! There’s life after cancer! Never give up!!!”

With Brittney having overcome cancer and Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong meanwhile completing a rehab stint for alcohol and prescription drug abuse, the band seem to be doing great and returned to the scene with Revolution Radio in late 2016, before touring last year.

The trio now appear to have more projects in the works, teasing fans with rehearsal updates on social media in recent months. The posts indicate the group have been practicing old albums, leading fans to speculate an anniversary tour, perhaps for 1994’s Dookie, could be on the horizon.

“We’ll sell no wine, until it’s time,” Dirnt coyly responded when quizzed about the possibility of such a tour. “We’re always working hard. We always say, ‘When people aren’t looking, that’s when we’re working.’  So, you’ll see us when you see us!”


Mike Dirnt with wife Brittney Cade discuss ‘Ante Up for a Cancer Free Generation’ event. 

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Leena Tailor

Leena Tailor is an LA-based Kiwi journalist published on Entertainment Tonight, Billboard, Vogue, Rolling Stone, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Sunday Star Times, Woman's Day. Follow her on Twitter @LeenaTailor.

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