Community unites to help youth battle leukemia

Camila's Concert Mozzo Kush PHOTO BY RICHARDSAs the music and laughter echoed from the Golden Bough Playhouse on  Nov. 27, it was easy to see the love and hope that  surrounded Camila de la Llata on one of the most defining nights of her life. A benefit concert, called “Camila’s Cure,” was organized for the recently diagnosed leukemia patient in an attempt to raise money for her cause.

“I know it was a big shock to her family and everyone else when they found out how sick she was, and that the help she needs is really expensive,” said CHS sophomore Claire Moorer, whose father Stephen is the director of Pacific Repertory Theatre, which helped put on the concert for de la Llata.

Camila, 22, was enrolled for her senior year at Cal State Fullerton when she was diagnosed this past summer with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a type of cancer in which one’s bone marrow makes abnormal blood cells, or myeloblasts, which fail to develop into healthy blood cells, according to the National Cancer Institute.

It has been found that chemotherapy is not a viable treatment for her, as it will not keep her in remission. Because of this, Camila is in need of a bone marrow transplant.

Donors are determined not by blood type, but by genetics. As a result, the search has been complicated because Camila is both Caucasian and Latina.

“Bi-racial patients like Camila have a harder time finding a donor because there are not enough people of mixed heritage in the national registry,” said Trina Brajkovich, a spokesperson for Be the Match.

Only 3 percent of the 9 million people registered as donors in the United States are of Latino heritage, which has doctors concerned that they will not find a match in time to save Camila’s life.

“They sped up the process from three months to one month, and that might allow Camila to have enough time for these [donors] to be processed and then find a match,” Robin de la Llata, Camila’s mother, said in an interview with Cal State Fullerton’s newspaper, The Daily Titan.

The hope is to find Camila a donor as soon as possible, but in the meantime she is being treated at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto.

Camila graduated from Santa Catalina in 2008 and began attending Fullerton as a theater education and directing major. Acting has been her passion throughout her life, and she has starred in plays such as “Once Upon a Mattress” and “Grease.”

“She is a big part of the theatre community and is a very talented singer, dancer and actress,” Moorer said. “Since theatre is a huge part of her life her family figured that a benefit concert would be the perfect idea.”

Volunteers worked to put on “Camila’s Cure Benefit Concert” on Nov. 26 and 27, complete with an all-star line-up of local talent, from Rushad Eggleston’s band Tornado Rider to the Twist and Shout Crew. A silent auction, filled with donated items from local businesses and artists, was held the night of in order to raise money.

“I’m glad I helped with the concert because I’ve known Camila and seen her in shows since I was probably nine,” Moorer explained. “I think she is so brave and it was nice to be a part of an important event for a good cause.”

Visit www.bethematchfoundation.org/goto/CamilasCure to find out if you are a match for Camila.

-Emily Wolfson