Prom is supposed to be a special time for a high school student. The chance to dress up and dance the night away with friends is practically a rite of passage in modern society.
For Catherine Malatesta, her junior prom turned out to be truly bittersweet. Just months prior, she was diagnosed with stage four cancer; despite her condition, she was released from the hospital to attend the school dance. Despite everything that was happening, she was thrilled to be able to simply go to the prom.
Then, after she passed, her friends came up with a touching tribute to allowed her legacy to live on…
Sixteen-year-old Catherine Malatesta looked gorgeous for her junior prom in her beautiful navy blue dress and blonde braided updo. Yet the fact that she was even able to attend the school prom at all was something of a miracle.
You would never be able to tell from Catherine’s bright smile, but just a few months before the junior prom, Catherine began treatment for stage four cancer. She had just been released from the hospital the night before, and she said that it was the first time in a long time that she felt beautiful.
Before her diagnosis, Catherine was highly active in sports, and she initially thought that that the pain in her shoulder was due to injury. But she was soon diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma, a form of cancer that affects about one in ten million people. By then, it had already spread to her spine and lungs.
Catherine kept a positive, upbeat attitude throughout her chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy treatment, and she went to school as much as she could. She even ran for student council president, winning the election after recording her speech from the hospital room.
Sadly, just two months after the prom, Catherine passed away. But her grieving friends found a special way to memorialize her. After finding Catherine’s blue embroidered gown in her bedroom, they decided to wear the dress to their own proms to honor their lost friend.
In a reference to the popular book and movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Catherine’s mom named the idea “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Prom Dress.” It was incredibly fitting, given the circumstances.
The first friend to wear the dress was Jillian Danton, who was a year younger. She and Catherine played ice and field hockey together. Jillian also said that Catherine was essentially like a big sister to her.
Catherine’s mom took comfort in the touching gesture of her late daughter’s friends. She was also impressed by their persistence in helping keep their friend’s memory alive through such creative means.
Three of Catherine’s friends will wear the dress in the near future, with a tailor helping fit the dress each time. It would be their own way of paying tribute to their friend who was taken away from them too soon, while still allowing her to “share” their prom with them each and every year.
Now, other people are contacting Catherine’s family with the hope that they might be able to borrow her junior prom dress to pay their respects in the same manner. It’s truly a touching tribute to a girl who clearly meant so much to so many people!
What an amazing way to honor their friend. She clearly meant so much to them and many more people around the world!
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