When 18-year-old Rylie Heisler received her chemotherapy schedule earlier this spring, she noticed right away that she would be in University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital the night of her senior prom.
“She looked disappointed at first, took a breath, wiped a tear and said: ‘Oh well, I'll just get chemo in prom dress,’” Rylie’s mother, Dee, said.
Rylie, battling an aggressive form of bone cancer, stuck to her plan as the weeks passed and the date of her prom at East Grand Forks High School drew closer. She picked out a dress—pink with silver sequins—and even told her nurses at Masonic Children’s Hospital about her idea.
Touched by the teenager’s determination, her care team decided to pitch in and help turn Rylie’s plan into reality. Together, the 18-year-old cancer fighter and her nurses picked songs, chose a menu, created decorations and set a date.
“Prom night was extremely important and meant the world to Rylie,” Dee said. “We didn't choose cancer, it chose us. We suddenly found ourselves on "cancer’s calendar" and we followed it. We had to; our lives as we knew them were on hold, and we would have to miss lots of things. We knew that would be hard, so something like this makes such a difference. The planning was as important as the party itself, it gave her something to think about other than cancer.”
On May 7, Rylie’s prom night at Masonic Children’s Hospital went forward with line dancing, lots of photos and even a guest appearance from one of her doctors, who showed off a few dance moves.
“Rylie was overwhelmed and excited the day of prom,” Dee said. “She did her make-up and other children's make-up—and she couldn't wait to get in her dress!”
The Heisler’s were very grateful for the nurse’s enthusiastic support and the way they helped make the event memorable for Rylie.
“Above and beyond just doesn't cover it,” Dee said. “It meant a lot to see how much the nurses cared about Rylie. They were not just giving her chemo; they were giving her a reason to live. It was truly touching to see so much love in one room.”