Prom and all of its traditions are a quintessential part of the high school experience. But many teens diagnosed with cancer and serious blood disorders often miss out on their prom due to hospitalization or ongoing treatments.
The Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach recently hosted the 2023 Golden Gala Prom for hematology/oncology patients, who missed out on the chance to attend their high school prom.
“Our goal as child life specialists is to make the health care experience as normal as possible for our patients,” says Taylor Sinnott, child life specialist for the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute, and key organizer for the 2023 prom. “We know that ‘normal’ for teens, means participating in these honored school traditions, so we ensure that regardless of their treatments, they still get the opportunities to make these special memories.”
In preparation for prom, patients attended a special boutique, where they had the opportunity to choose the perfect dress or tux for the special evening. On the day itself, a glam team assembled to help patients look their best. From hair, makeup, and even the final touches like corsages and boutonnieres, every detail was thought of.
Upon arrival, the patients along with their guests, got the chance to take traditional prom photos before entering an auditorium transformed into a spectacular prom filled with decor. The teens danced the night away, even being joined by some of their favorite child life specialists and nurses.
And no prom would be complete without a prom king and queen. Toward the end of the night, Angel Quevado and Kimberly Perez were crowned the king and queen of the 2023 Golden Gala Prom. Both Angel and Kimberly have been undergoing treatments for cancer at the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute for the last several years.
The prom would not have been possible without the support of numerous volunteers and organizations, who donated their time and resources to provide everything from decor, food, DJ, photo booth, and mocktail and dessert bars. The main sponsor who helped to plan the event and recruit volunteers was nonprofit organization, A Friend in Me.
This is the third year that A Friend in Me has partnered with Miller Children’s & Women’s to host prom. But their support goes beyond this one evening. When cancer patients celebrate their last treatment, they receive a special gift bag and shirt from A Friend in Me to help mark the important milestone.
In addition, A Friend in Me hosts monthly events for patients, and helps to fill the food pantry for families. And throughout the pandemic, they also raised funds to purchase laptops to ensure patients who didn’t have a personal computer or device were able to stay on track with their remote classes and homework while in the hospital.
A special thank you to all the individuals and organizations for their support:
Surabhi Event Décor, The Fern LA, Mandy from A Load of Crafts, Handel's Ice Cream, Portos Bakery, Susiescakes, Prestige Bartending Academy, Vanessa's Bartending, Compass One Healthcare (catering), Grand Avenue Salon, Donna Mesa, Taylor Skogen and Cassie Egger from Tease Salon OC, Rawan's Makeup, Matty-O-Photo, The Photobooth Guy, Men's Warehouse, VOX DJ's, Charlotte McKinney, Little Wishes, Miller Children's Child Life Team, and A Friend in Me Volunteer Team