This back pain turns out to be cancer of the back, in layman's terms. His doctor is an ass who has absolutely no people skills. In fact, Adam finds out he has cancer because the doctor is making notes about his case on a recorder, not because he actually spoke to Adam. Adam ends up visiting a therapist to deal with his cancer, Katherine--who is actually still a student. He makes some friends in chemotherapy who introduce him to medical marijuana. Kyle gets him a prescription. Kyle also helps with shaving his head, as you can see in the image below.
Another thing we are introduced to about Adam is that he doesn't drive. He doesn't smoke, doesn't drink, and doesn't do anything that could be hazardous to his health. In fact, he doesn't even have a license. And yet he ends up with cancer that has 50/50 odds. So, basically as the story continues, his girlfriend ends up being a total bitch--pardon my French. Here are my reasons that she's a bitch, taken from my notes about the movie:
- Rachael, Adam's girlfriend, buys him a dog called Skeletor. She got him from the pound and tells him that having a dog is "good for the healing process." He obviously doesn't like the dog but keeps it because Rachael goes on about how she'll just take him back to the pound where he'll share a small cage with 10 more dogs and eventually will be put to sleep. So, he keeps the dog. Kind of a bitch move that she didn't talk about something as big as getting a pet with him considering she lives in his place.
- The first time Rachael takes him to treatment, she asks if it's okay if she stays in the car because she doesn't want to mix "that world" with "this world." Considering they're in a romantic relationship, there should be only one world--their world. And it shouldn't matter if that world has to include a medical hospital, a psychiatric hospital, or even a prison.
- Another time that Rachael takes Adam to his treatment, she ends up driving off and shows up late to pick him up. I'm not entirely sure just how long he was sitting there waiting, but he was pretty upset. He'd brought his friends from chemotherapy to meet her, and she didn't even show up.
- Kyle goes on a date with a girl who loves art, and it ends up being an art gallery opening that Rachael is actually attending as well. Adam is lying at home, feeling sick and lying to his mother saying that Rachael is going to be home soon to make food for him. Kyle catches her kissing a guy with a big Jesus beard. When Rachael gets home, Adam wants to spend some time with her, but she's "tired" and just wants to go to bed. Kyle shows up and brings along photographic evidence that Rachael is a bitch.
- When Rachael comes to get her things, she realizes Adam is removing every part of her out of his life including her art that was hanging up in the house. They go outside for a moment to talk (Kyle's been spending days at Adam's house to keep him company), and she starts kissing on him saying they could start over and she'll try harder.
- Rachael was a bitch from the beginning. She didn't care to spend time with him, when he woke in the middle of the night to throw up, she just asked "Are you okay?" but didn't go check on him. She was late to pick him up and complained that she was trying and that it was tough. And she blamed him and his cancer for her cheating. Because apparently Adam didn't know how stressful it was to be dating him while he had cancer--always sleeping, needing something, getting sick all the time.