Young cancer sufferers celebrate life at prom night

Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:58am EDT
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By Rick Wilking

DENVER (Reuters Life!) - When Brandon and Lindsay McElhinney took to the dance floor at a prom at Denver's Westin Tabor Center this week, there was just one thing on their mind -- having a good time.

The newly-weds, dressed for a mascarade theme, were among about 50 teenagers and young adults suffering from cancer and other blood diseases attending the fourth annual Cancer Prom in Denver that gives young cancer sufferers the chance to enjoy a real prom.

Baldness. Wheelchairs. Skin problems. Nothing raises eyebrows in this crowd which understands what it is like to face death and to endure ravaging treatments with no certainty of a cure.

The girls wore strapless evening gowns, some revealing scars from where medical devices used to administer chemotherapy were once implanted, while their partners were in dress suits and tuxedos, some on crutches, some missing parts of limbs.

"It gives me a chance to be with other young people who have been through the same things I have been through with cancer. It is a chance for us to live or relive a prom that many cancer patients missed," Brandon McElhinney, 26, told Reuters.

"I missed all of my high school dances and proms because of issues related to cancer and the social effect it has on young people," added 23-year-old Lindsay.

Both Brandon and Lindsay are cancer survivors.

Lindsay was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at the age of 13 and Brandon was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) at the age of 13, suffering severe complications and setbacks along the way.   Continued...

<p>Gaia Damerst (L) and Mallory Evans display their mediport pendants as they prepare for a prom sponsored by The Children's Hospital for cancer patients in Denver June 8, 2010. REUTERS/Rick Wilking</p>