ATLANTA — A 10-year-old New York boy named Carter who beat cancer got to meet another cancer survivor named Carter, former President Jimmy Carter.
The meeting between Carter Beckhard-Suozzi of Glen Cove, New York, and the nation’s 39th presidentopened with a giant hug Monday at The Carter Center in Atlanta.
Carter extended his arms as soon as he saw the former president, who gave him a “warm” hug, called him a “handsome little man” and asked him how he was feeling.
“I said, ‘Good,’ and he said, ‘Me, too,'” the boy told ABC News. “The hug definitely made me feel I was supposed to not be nervous.”
Carter was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma in May 2015. He underwent five months of grueling chemotherapy and surgeries before being told by doctors he had beaten the cancer, according to his mom, Jane Beckhard-Suozzi.
While Carter was in the hospital, he was visited by officials from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Months later, out of the blue, he told his mom what he wanted his wish to be.
“He said, ‘Mom, I figured it out. I want to meet President Jimmy Carter,’” Beckhard-Suozzi recalled. “When I asked why, he said, ‘We have three things in common. We have the same name. We both have survived cancer and we both love helping people.’”
Carter added Friday, “A fourth reason is that he was president of the United States and I was co-president of my school.”
The former president, 91, announced in August 2015 that he was battling metastatic melanoma. Just months later, in March of this year, Carter announced that after undergoing surgery, radiation and immunotherapy, his doctors had said he no longer needs cancer treatment.
“He is a fine young man, and we share much more than a name in common, especially our success in overcoming cancer. I know Carter will grow up to do great things.”
When the two Carters met Monday, the former president told Carter he had researched Burkitt’s lymphoma online to find out more about what Carter went through, according to Beckhard-Suozzi.
The two spent around 30 minutes discussing their personal journeys with cancer but also about the former president’s experiences both in the White House and his extensive service work after.
“He is a fine young man, and we share much more than a name in common, especially our success in overcoming cancer,” Carter said in the statement. “I know Carter will grow up to do great things.”
[This story was written by Katie Kindelan, ABC News]