Looking radiant and healthy, Paola recently celebrated a milestone: her Quinceañera. An important rite of passage for Latina girls, marking the transition from childhood into womanhood, a quinceañera was what Paola had been dreaming of during the long, grueling course of her treatments for salivary gland cancer. But unlike her friends, her illness prevented her from being able to plan it. “When I first found out I had cancer, I broke down. It was very hard for me to take it in,” says Paola. “I just had to face the fact and go through it. You have to live life”.
Then came Make-A-Wish, who gave Paola the chance to realize her true wish for a traditional party with all the trappings: formal dress, tiara, a big cake and her own court of honor. “I’ve been dreaming about a quinceañera since I was young.” Paola has been moved to know that so many people are willing to help her—as Macy’s stepped in to provide her with some of her wardrobe for the occasion. “It’s a very warm feeling that there are people out there to make other people’s day better” said Paola when trying on dresses before her party. Her mom Raquel added: “This wish was special to her because it not only signifies her transition from childhood into womanhood; it also signifies the progress of her health from bad to good.”