Teen with cancer gets the royal treatment for prom — including a wig made from her friend's hair

Alyssa White, left, and Ashley Smith, who cut her hair to make her friend a wig for the prom. (Photo: Courtesy Ashley Smith)

As the owner of a hair salon and a dress boutique, Dawn DeMario sees a lot of girls preparing for prom, and she understands why it’s a big deal. “It’s the first time a young girl feels like a real princess,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

That’s why DeMario was so moved by the story of one of her longtime clients, Ashley Smith, who recently came into her salon, Spa on West Main, in Westminster, Md. Smith had come in to have 24 inches of her hair cut off so it could be made into a wig for her friend Alyssa White to wear at her prom in April. White, 16, had been diagnosed in January with Hodgkins lymphoma and had lost her hair as a result of chemotherapy treatments.

White and Smith have been friends since they were camper and counselor at Pine View Farm Fun day camp. “She was always so bubbly,” Smith tells Yahoo.

The high school junior has managed to keep that bubbly attitude as she battles cancer, but when Smith prodded her about how she was handling her baldness, White admitted she might want a wig.

“She said, ‘I never thought that I would want a wig, but after sitting here today in hair that’s falling out all over my body, I think I might want one. I don’t know what I’m going to do for prom. I don’t know what I’m going to do for family vacations, every day at school, and I think it might be nice to be able to switch things up,'” Smith recalls. “Right away, I was ready to shave my head [for her].” Custom wigs aren’t cheap, though, even with a donor ready to supply her healthy locks. So Smith decided to raise the funds and surprise her friend with the wig as a gift. She created a site on YouCaring.com and has raised almost $2,500 to have the hairpiece made by Caring and Comfort.


White looks at prom dresses at Lux Boutique. (Photo: Dustin Levy/Evening Sun)

Smith hasn’t had short hair since she was in fourth grade and always felt proud of how long it had grown.

“Cutting it seemed like a big deal until it actually happened,” Smith tells Yahoo. “I haven’t missed it yet. The reason behind it made everything worth it.”

After cutting her hair, Smith surprised White with a card signed by donors, while the local paper, the Evening Sun, documented it all on video.

“It surprised me very much that she did this,” White tells Yahoo. “She loved her hair and knowing that she gave it up for me knowing that I needed it is just heartwarming.”

That selfless act prompted DeMario to offer White a prom dress of her choice from the showroom of her store, Lux Boutique.

“Prom dresses are very expensive, and I really just wanted to be a part of her journey, to let her know that people are rooting for her,” DeMario says.

White tries on a prom dress at Lux Boutique. (Photo: Dustin Levy/Evening Sun)

White went shopping with her mother to try on dress after dress.

“It was a lot of fun trying on so many dresses and so many different colors, and seeing what I would look like,  imagining what I would look like with the wig, just picturing myself on prom night,” she tells Yahoo. “I think what made it extra special shopping for a prom dress was knowing that it was out of the kindness of somebody’s heart, that it was donated to me.”

White eventually chose an elegant blush gown by Faviana, which retails for around $400, DeMario says.

“It makes me feel like a princess in it,” White told the Evening Sun when she tried it on. The radiant smile she had while wearing it was accessory enough, but she’s looking forward to seeing how she looks with the wig too. DeMario has offered to style her hair and makeup on prom day.

As fun as going to a formal high school dance is for most teens, Smith tells Yahoo she thinks White is excited about something more. “I don’t know that it’s specifically prom that means so much to her as feeling herself again,” she says.

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