May 26, 2010
Ellen Smith: 'Girls' Weekend'
I was one of more than 20 girls who are being or have been treated at the Jimmy Fund Clinic who was whisked off to Boston for a "Girls' Weekend." We spent the weekend of May 15 shopping, getting manicures, having our make-up done, and getting our pictures taken.
Because of the generosity of the Gordon family, all of our expenses were paid during the weekend, which was a time for us just to relax and not focus on our cancer diagnoses.
Traveling by party bus, we took off from the Dana-Farber lobby on a gorgeous Saturday of sunny spring weather that matched our attitudes and expectations for the weekend.
Our itinerary included new outfits from H&M, lunch at Cheesecake Factory, manicures at Grettacole, dinner at California Pizza Kitchen, and jewelry making. We also got a surprise Hummer limousine ride to pick up one of the girls who had to leave temporarily.
Saturday's activities allowed us get to know each other as regular teenage girls and not just as patients in the Jimmy Fund Clinic. Then, on Sunday, we got our make-up done at Sephora and our pictures taken by photographer Douglas Quaqliaroli.
This was different from the other trips we take through the Clinic by virtue of it being a girls' weekend: the atmosphere was entirely girly and feminine. Each of us was provided with the opportunity to either gain or reaffirm our confidence through the encouragement that was associated with the various activities.
Whether it was, "oh, my gosh, I love the bag you picked out," from another girl on the trip, or a "your eyes look beautiful" from a chaperone after Sephora, we shared moments when we felt like "normal" girls. The trip helped diminish all the physical and emotional pain that we might have been dealing with before the weekend and gave us tools to continue the positive feelings we gained even after it was over.
Fortunate enough to be one of the girls on the trip, I was able to reunite and catch up with some of the girls whom I met on the other Jimmy Fund trips, specifically the visit to Red Sox spring training in Fort Meyers, Fla., and the Atlanta trip. In addition, I was able to meet other girls who had not been on those trips.
Since I had finished my treatment for Ewing's sarcoma in September, I was one of the healthier girls in the group. I reached out to the other girls to try to (hopefully) bring them some support and sympathy and to help them persevere through their own battles. We created a special dynamic: between girls finished with treatment, girls almost finished with treatment, and girls just beginning treatment, we formed a network of understanding rivaled with almost nothing else.
This network of girls, brought together by unfortunate circumstances, is fortunate to have trips like this one, to connect and bond over what only we have been through.
A chance to seek counsel, to give advice, or to just hang out and have fun, our "Girls' Weekend" was a way for the Jimmy Fund to reach out and treat all of us in a different way: not just in body, but in spirit.
Ellen Smith is 18 years old. She lives in Natick, Mass. To contact Ellen, please direct your e-mails to: JimmyFundContactUs@dfci.harvard.edu.