SAN FRANCISCO – More than 40,000 people packed Oracle Park Wednesday night for the Salesforce Dreamfest concert featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Before the show, 21-year-old Jesse Coronado, a cancer survivor from Hayward, drew cheers from the crowd.
Coronado loves family and music. After battling leukemia for the past six years, it means even more to him.
“I didn’t know that it was cancer. When they told me it was leukemia, I was like, oh, ok. Just give me medicine and let me go home,” he told KPIX 5.
A week before his 15th birthday, Coronado was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer.
“I had my very terrible, hard moments, but I’m just glad I’m still here,” he said.
Coronado’s cancer came back five times in the past six years, but he’s been in remission for more than a year.
“Given everything he’s been through in the face of life or death decisions, he’s just approached it with remarkable courage,” said Dr. Nahal Rose Lalefar, Jesse’s oncologist at UCSF.
That’s why just ahead of the concert Wednesday night, Jesse was awarded the General Colin Powell Medal of Courage.
“We are thrilled to have Jesse here with us tonight. Give him a big round of applause,” said actor Matthew McConaughey as he introduced him on stage.
It was a different kind of meeting that meant the most. Jesse was reunited with Roberto Diaz-Gonzalez, his favorite nurse from UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.
“I was very proud, very excited for Jesse. He deserves all of this and much more,” said Diaz-Gonzalez.
Jesse says he owes a large part of his recovery to the nurse, who shares a similar story.
Diaz-Gonzalez also had leukemia as a teen and was treated at Children’s Hospital. After he recovered, he went on to become a nurse at the same facility. Now Jesse wants to follow in his footsteps.
“I want to get back into school. I want to study. I want to become a radiologist so I can work at Children’s Hospital of Oakland. That’s my goal,” Coronado said.