Sophomore saves sister’s life with stem cell donation

After a life-saving transplant to beat leukemia, Sophia Nealon partnered with her sister to create “Bye, Bye, Bad Blood,” a creative children’s story that aims to educate and educate young cancer patients about their diagnosis. prepare, and their families, for what is to come.

For Sophia Nealon, saving her sister’s life was by far the easiest decision she had ever made.

“It took a simple swab from myself and our entire family to see who had the highest percentage of DNA matches,” said Osprey, Fla., A resident who studies chemistry at the University of Miami. “I was 100% compatible to be my sister’s bone marrow transplant donor. ”

When the family traveled to New York for a younger sister’s birthday, it became clear to them that something was wrong because Kassandra Nealon fell ill again. Back home in Florida, she went to see a doctor and the family heard the terrible news. Kassandra Nealon, Sophia’s older sister and recipient of the life-saving stem cell transplant, was diagnosed with Acute T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 23, after repeatedly falling ill with flu-like symptoms at the end of 2019.

“They told her she had two liters of fluid in her lungs, which made regular chores exhausting,” Nealon said. “His doctors originally thought it was lymphoma, but after testing his blood count, they explained to us that it was actually a type of leukemia. It was a big shock for everyone.

After the diagnosis, the daily routine of the Nealon family underwent a drastic change, as Kassandra Nealon’s dates were located miles away in Tampa. Then the world entered a global pandemic. Meanwhile, Nealon enrolled in her first semester as a student at the University of Miami, choosing to complete the semester remotely.

“My mom was the only one allowed on my sister’s dates so it took a lot of coordination, but we found a system that worked for us like staying in Airbnbs for a few weekends and using FaceTime to be with her. during her chemo and radiation therapy appointment, ”she said.

The type of cancer that Nealon’s sister suffered from is commonly diagnosed in young children and is rare in adults. After so many visits to various medical offices, Kassandra Nealon noticed that there weren’t many books explaining the specific cancer that mainly teens face.

Motivated by her friends and family, Kassandra Nealon felt compelled to create “Bye, Bye, Bad Blood”, a children’s book that lightly explains cancer to children and their families. Kassandra Nealon turned to none other than her sister, who draws as a hobby, to illustrate the book.

“We decided to sell and market the book through Amazon because it would allow us to make the most profit,” said Nealon, who had no prior knowledge of self-publishing a book.

This profit margin was important to Nealon and his sister, as 100% of it goes directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the largest voluntary healthcare organization dedicated to the fight against blood cancer in the world.

“You don’t know who you’re helping and how much you can change someone’s life with your donation,” said Nealon, who also encourages the campus community to register on to become a donor. stem cell transplant. “Becoming a donor is super easy and takes seconds of your time. “

Nealon’s sister is now in remission. While promoting her book, she is determined to complete her medical school applications, a process that was abruptly interrupted as she battled cancer.

Those interested in donating a book to a children’s cancer treatment center or purchasing the book can visit

To learn more about stem cell transplants at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, visit bone-marrow -and-stem-cell-transplant.

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