During Dana-Farber’s annual Girls Weekend, 25 girls ages 13-25 relaxed with a few days of shopping, makeovers and fun with new friends who understand what it’s like to have cancer as a young girl.
The girls, who are all patients at Dana-Farber Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, spent the weekend shopping, seeing a musical, and having makeovers at Pini Swissa Salon on Boston’s Newbury Street.
“What I really loved about the Girls Weekend was the fact that we all understood each other’s situations to some extent. Even though we didn’t necessarily talk about our medical issues, everyone else knew what we are going through. It was also really cool to have a roommate close to my age who I got to know especially well. And it was nice to notice the diversity among us, because it showed that our illnesses don’t define who we are,” says Corinne Sciarappa, 15.
The weekend also included a stay at a downtown Boston hotel and a jewelry-making workshop. “Many of these girls met for the first time in the lobby of Dana-Farber on Saturday morning, and by the time Sunday evening rolled around it seemed like they had known each other forever,” says Jen Noonan, adolescent specialist at Dana-Farber.
“It really gets them out of their time of cancer and connects them with other girls who are going through the same thing,” says Lisa Scherber, director of patient and family programs at Dana-Farber, who oversees the Girls Weekend event.
At the end of the weekend, the girls all had professional portraits taken. “The purpose of the portraits is to make the girls feel beautiful when sometimes they’ve forgotten how beautiful they are,” says Scherber. In February, the girls will be invited to a special event to see the portraits for the first time.
“The Girls Weekend was a really great experience. It was nice to meet some new friends that are not only funny and very sweet, but also could relate to your situation. Every single moment was enjoyable and so was every person there. My favorite part of the whole weekend was definitely the musical! I’m so glad I got to go,” says Carlie Gonzalez, 15.
The Howard G. Gordon Family Teen Activities Fund, established by Dana-Farber Trustee Michael Gordon and his wife, Christina, helps make this annual event possible.