New Friendships Form During Annual ‘Girls Weekend’

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.

girls weekend, Jimmy Fund Clinic
Emma Hennessy, Madison LeClair, Madeline Mangenello, Eva Bod, and Madeline Carlson bond during the annual Girls Weekend.

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.

girls weekend, jimmy fund clinic
“…it was nice to notice the diversity among us, because it showed that our illnesses don’t define who we are,” says Corinne Scriarappa.

“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.

Aliza Perez smiles for the camera.

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.

girls weekend, jimmy fund clinic
Amanda Kasem and Eva Bod try on clothes during their shopping trip in downtown Boston.

“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.

During the weekend, the girls had a chance to decorate gingerbread houses and make jewelry. Nataha Joglekar holds up her creation.

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.

girls weekend, jimmy fund clinic
Carlie Gonzalez poses for the camera.

“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.

girls weekend, jimmy fund clinic
The group of girls who participated in the annual Girls Weekend.

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.