Coral Springs, Florida – A South Florida man has made a remarkable recovery from leukemia after undergoing a stem cell transplant, thanks in part to the efforts of a nonprofit organization.
Coral Springs native Sean Carmona has quite the story to tell.
“I was lucky enough to be able to find a stem cell donor,” he said. “A lot of people don’t, so I was very lucky. I’m very grateful.”
It has been one year since the 23-year-old underwent the transplant.
The college student said he was 21 when he was diagnosed with leukemia, a type of cancer that affected the blood and bone marrow.
At the time, Carmona thought his life was over. However, he knew that, given the circumstances, he had to be patient and optimistic.
“When I first got diagnosed, I was worried, but the whole time, like, from day one, I knew that I had to be strong no matter what happens,” he said, “no matter how I feel, no matter what my body goes through, I need to be strong and keep that in mind.”
His willpower through it all paid off. With the help of the nonprofit Be the Match, a stem cell donor was found in Orlando within two to three weeks of the initial request.
“It was so surreal knowing that this man is just taking time out of his life to help me, someone he doesn’t even know,” said Carmona.
A month ago, he was able to meet the person behind the donation, putting a face to the person who ultimately saved his life with their selflessness.
Be the Match throws a gala every year where donors get to meet those they donated to in person. Carmona was chosen to be one of the lucky few to attend.
When the two finally met, Carmona said, it was like reuniting with a long-lost friend.
“As soon as we saw each other, it was like we knew each other,” he said. “Like, it was like seeing old friends, like an instant connection. It was really weird, but at the same time really familiar.”
Now that his battle with leukemia is over, Carmona wanted to share a few words with those who are in a similar situation.
“Just keep your spirits high. Not everything comes fast. Not everything is going to be a quick, easy race,” he said. “You have to take it slow and steady, and things will get better.”
Statistics show that people with an ethnic background have a 46% chance of finding a suitable donor. Being Hispanic and leukemia free, Carmona hopes that his story inspires people of color to become registered donors.