Dealing with cancer can be difficult enough for adults, but the stress of treatment can be even more burdensome for children.
Missing out on school, friends and many activities that most kids take for granted can make for a difficult childhood. But St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children is trying to bring back some sense of normalcy by holding their first prom.
The prom, to be held on May 12, will be thrown for close to 50 patients who receive inpatient and outpatient care at the hospital, ranging from ages 3 to 21. Attendees will be able to bring a date, put on formal (or not-so-formal) ware, dance and just enjoy themselves. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, which is what makes it so special for them.
“With these treatment plans, they miss out on a lot of things going on in their life,” said Robin Capecci, a social worker at St. Christopher’s and one of the event organizers. “We want to give them something that they may not have gotten.”
Capecci has been working at the hospital since 1987 and said that the nurses and staff who are all volunteering to help plan and decorate for the prom are excited to be doing this for the first time.
“”The reason why [we’re doing it] is, despite their illness, they should have high self-esteem,” Capecci said. “To help the kids learn that it’s nobody’s fault.”
The prom will give patients a chance to see one another at one of the most memorable moments teens get to experience. It is a chance, Capecci said, for camaraderie and to see they’re not alone.
The idea was brought to the hospital by Dave Smith, owner of Body Airbrush Co. & Spa in Folsom, Pa. Smith contacted the hospital after seeing numerous students getting ready for their prom and realizing that the children at St. Christopher’s might be missing out.
As the mother of cancer survivor, missing out is something Courtney Stouffer is familiar with.
Her daughter Kearstin, 16, has Hodgkins Lymphoma and initially managed to beat the disease five months after her diagnosis. However, almost one year to the day of her recovery, doctors discovered it had resurfaced.
Kearstin was told that if she was going to survive, she would need to undergo a bone marrow transplant. The donor for the transplant ended up being her twin sister, Kaitlin.
“We didn’t even need to ask [Kaitlin] to do it. She said, ‘What do you need, an arm? A leg? Whatever you need, I’ll do it.”
After having the surgery a few weeks ago, Kearstin is again in remission and hoping to be well enough to attend the prom next month.
“Kearstin has missed out on a lot, all of high school,” Stouffer said. “So having this prom really means a lot to her.”
Most of the services for the event will be provided by volunteers that they have reached out to for catering, music and other fundamentals. A fundraiser to help pay for any other expenses will be held on April 20 at Ladder 15, located at 1528 Sansom St. For more information or to donate, e-mail Event Coordinator Lisa Cherry at StChristophersProm@gmail.com.