Teen Patients with Cancer at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach Get a Fairytale Prom, Complete with Horse Drawn Carriage

Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center patients climb into their horse drawn carriage and are ready to be swept away to an enchanted fairytale prom designed just for them.

On Saturday, March 17, an Enchanted Fairytale Prom was hosted for patients of Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, in partnership with A Friend in Me Foundation.

Artists applied the last bit of nail polish, makeup and hair spray before the young women rushed to get dressed. A cluster of teenage girls surround their friend as she makes her debut, in a gown and perfectly fitted wig.

In another room, mothers adjust their sons’ tuxedos, complete with silk bows and corsages. This special event was designed just for patients, ages 14 to 23 to enjoy a “cancer-free” night.

Some people consider prom a rite of passage and a treasured high school experience. Teens affected by cancer or serious blood disorders often miss their proms due to medical procedures and/or treatment.

“It’s our job to ensure that we are not only treating teen patients medically, but also supporting their unique psychosocial needs,” says Jacqueline Casillas, M.D., M.S.H.S, medical director, Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “We know that cancer and serious blood disorders have a way of stealing fond memories from patients and their families. This is why experiences like Enchanted Fairytale Prom are so important — it’s our way of helping patients make up for time lost and enjoy being young.”

Teens with cancer or serious blood disorders can often feel lonely or distant from others, especially their peers. This is why the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center created the Teen & Young Adult Cancer Program for adolescents coping with the unique challenges that patients in this age group are faced with. Teen & Young Adult Program offers many forms of care for teens with cancer, including access to clinical trials for unique diagnosis, school reintegration services and age-based support groups for teens.

As patients gathered and parents take the last photos, there is a collective gasp. A white horse trotted toward the group as it pulled a white pumpkin-shaped carriage behind it. Soon the patients said goodbye to their parents, as they hopped into the carriage and rode over to the prom.

As they exited the carriage, patients were escorted to their Enchanted Prom where they were met by characters dressed as fairies. The next few hours were spent dancing the night away and making lasting memories with close friends and family.

“It’s a treat to see the patients forget about cancer and just be teens — taking selfies, laughing and dancing the night away,” says Nikki Pendekanti, founder, A Friend in Me Foundation. “We are thankful to Miller Children’s & Women’s, our supporters, sponsors and high school clubs for making this fairytale come to life.”

Patients get primped and pampered to prepare for their Enchanted Fairytale Prom.

An enchanted horse-pulled carriage arrives to take patients of Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center to their Enchanted Fairytale Prom.

Patients, with their close friends and family, live out their own real-life fairytale moments as they laugh and dance the night away.

Arnold Armenta and Kim Correa are crowned the King and Queen of the Enchanted Fairytale Prom at Miller Children’s & Women’s.

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