The sophisticated dresses and sleek tuxedos. The curling irons and makeup. The flashing cameras.
No, this wasn’t a typical day at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. It was a “prom prep center” for teens affected by cancer. They dressed to the nines for an unforgettable night of dancing and dining at The Woodlands Resort and Conference Center, a 45-minute drive north of Houston.
The hospital’s prom, held each August as part of Camp AOK — a weeklong summer camp for “Anderson’s Older Kids” — gives cancer patients and their siblings a chance to let loose and have fun.
“Teens with cancer sometimes have to miss their high school proms,” says Hilary Bagwell, 30, who attended prom twice — at ages 14 and 15 — when she was battling lymphoma. “They may feel self-conscious about their hair loss or weight loss or having to walk with crutches. But here, none of that matters.”
Today, Hilary is a third-grade teacher, a new mom and a cancer survivor.
A couple of months ago, Hilary was back — this time as a volunteer. During prom preparations, she and her sister Jaime, a professional stylist who has done hair and makeup for the Miss Texas, Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, made sure every partygoer got the full beauty treatment.
For a few hours, it was all about the dresses, jewelry, shoes, hair and lip gloss. The excitement in the air was almost as thick as the hair spray.
Photo: F. Carter Smith