For months, when Jasmine Sanchez put on a hospital gown, it meant a radiation treatment. But at Baptist Hospital of Miami on Friday, her procedure was purely cosmetic.
A stylist smoothed her curly mane silky straight and parted it in the middle. The hairdo covered the small shave marks on her right temple perfectly. When she slipped on her navy blue off-the-shoulder gown and heels, no one could tell the 14-year-old girl had a brain tumor removed in September.
Jasmine, along with three other young cancer patients, spent Friday afternoon at Baptist Hospital getting dolled up by professional makeup artists and a hairstylist in preparation for “A Prom to Remember,” an annual event held at Fort Lauderdale’s Ritz-Carlton to honor children who have been affected by the disease.
Hundreds of young South Florida cancer patients and survivors take cars (or a limo, as is the case with the Baptist Hospital girls) to the free event, which features a red carpet to take pictures in front of, food to eat and music to dance to.
In Jessica Grenier’s makeup chair, Jasmine kept it natural with a dusting of shimmer on her eyelids and a swipe of Laura Mercier’s Embrace pink lipstick.
Is there glitter lipstick?
Cassandra Chavia, 12, getting her makeup done for the prom
Across a table piled high with an intimidating array of makeup options, 12-year-old Cassandra Chaviano was not going in the same direction.
Faced with a choice between light pink or dark pink lipstick, Cassandra cocked her head and looked at the palette. She wanted to mix them, she said. The makeup artist obliged and showed Cassandra the result. She immediately checked her ballerina pink dress and instructed “lighter.”
Then she got an idea. “Is there glitter lipstick?” she asked.
“We can do anything you want,” the artist said with a grin.
With a fresh coat of highlighter applied to her lips and a coat of silver glitter eyeshadow, Cassandra put on her pink glasses and skipped away. Last year, she spent her time in Baptist receiving treatment for Ewing Sarcoma, a rare cancer that affects bone or soft tissue.
She was as ready to party as her friend, Heidi Alonso.
Heidi, 12, was so desperate to go last year that she tried to cajole the organizers into letting her attend, even though at 11 she fell just below the age range.
Now this young romance-novel fan gets to experience it all: the glamorous makeup and dress, the limo ride, the red carpet — maybe even a dance with a cute boy. And of course, she’ll Snapchat the whole thing, including plenty of selfies with her favorite flower crown filter.
Last year was tough for Heidi. She was so sick she missed all of fifth grade. To make sure she advanced on time, she went to extra classes after the regular school day ended, after her lymphoma treatments at Baptist.
She has five more months of radiation treatments to go, but Friday she focused on other things.
Inside a makeshift hair studio in the hospital’s playroom, hairstylist Sherice Latimore twisted Heidi’s brown locks and pinned them back with a jeweled hair clip. The pink flower in the center matched the floral print on her skirt and the shimmer on the matching dark blue crop top.
Melodie Ruiz, 12, went simple with her accessories. She wore a pair of dangling earrings with rhinestone-studded music notes, black rose-studded cat ears and Rachel, the doll she got at Baptist during her treatment last year. Melodie wore a navy blue dress with a taffeta skirt, and Rachel wore a pink lace dress with matching headband.
“We’re ready,” Melodie said.
With everybody all dressed up, it was time for the photo shoot. The girls lined up in the hallway next to a mural of a dolphin and posed for the parental paparazzi.
They took plenty of selfies too, mostly with Nikki Mejia, their oncologist’s administrative assistant. When Mejia, 28, arrived, the girls took turns flinging themselves at her, calling her their best friend and BFF and twirling to show off their glam looks.
Mejia said she took it upon herself to befriend the girls and distract them from why they were at the doctor’s office whenever she could. Like the girls, this was to be her first “A Prom To Remember.”
“I always see them getting treatment or feeling crappy,” she said. “It’s nice to see them doing what they should be doing.”