ROSEVILLE — Kaiser Permanente held its second annual Pediatric Prom Friday night for teenage patients who couldn’t make it to their high school proms as a result of battling cancer.
Two by two, each couple made their own grand entrance into the conference room turned ballroom at Kaiser Permanente Roseville hospital. And amid the vibrant gowns, the photo booth and the dance floor, you’d never know this prom is extra special for everyone here.
“It’s a hospital prom. I’m like, should I go? Maybe I should go, yeah. And I’m really happy I did, it’s really awesome,” said 19-year-old Alexis. She’s been in and out of chemotherapy since August –diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
This prom, in her words, is an amazing night — all pretty great people who share a pretty lousy thing in common.
“About a month ago I wouldn’t have been able to,” said Alexis, speaking about going to the prom.
“Not that long ago, I was in the hospital for quite a long time, so it’s good to be out and about,” said Natalia Jimenez, diagnosed with a serious infection that left her wheelchair bound.
Everyone here at Kaiser Roseville’s pediatric prom either missed their high school prom, too sick while fighting cancer to go, or likely won’t be able to go in the near future. So Kaiser Permanente brought prom to them inside the hospital.
“For them to miss it would be devastating. I’m sure it was at the time. So we provide an opportunity for them to come back and celebrate,” said Debbie Reitter, director of Women’s and Children’s Services.
From younger kids to late teens, all the guests got the royal treatment. Some, queens for the night even, to a few Sacramento Kings — point guard Ben McLemore and center Willy Cauley-Stein — who both made appearances for the special night.
“This is really amazing and I’m really happy that I have the opportunity to be here. Especially because I’ve been hospitalized a lot,” said Alexis.
“It’s a celebration of them and what they’ve gone through. Now they’re here to be able to have a great time,” said Reitter.
And as the DJ played and the dance floor flared, this night for promgoers, not one to forget their diagnosis but to embrace the fact that it doesn’t define them.
“After everything that’s happened, it’s a good thing to feel people care. It’s a great experience,” said Jimenez.
Local business owners donated their time and equipment to make the prom happen including free hair, make up and nails for the promgoers.