The Sisterhood of the Traveling Prom Dress

Prom – It’s a night a teenage girl gets to feel like a princess, in the dress of her dreams and for one group of girls the dress they’ll be wearing has extra special meaning. It belonged to a remarkable friend.

"She was always really happy" says her friend Carly Blau "(Catherine) Always knew how to make everyone else happy; and she loved Prom" 

Prom was a wonderful distraction for Catherine Malatesta. By May of last year, she was fighting stage four cancer in and out of the hospital for radiation and chemo.

But for one night, the Arlington 16-year-old got to feel like a normal high schooler enjoying her junior prom.

Catherine’s mother, Jennifer Goodwin said "A lot of people had posted on her Facebook page. You look great. It was a beautiful night. So happy you went. You looked fabulous!" 

Catherine danced the night away in her blue dress with a lace bodice.

Days later, she was back in Children’s Hospital. She remained there until she lost her fight in August.

"She loved life." said her mother "We always say she didn’t skimp. She lived really large."

Carly Blau and Emma Schambers were friends with Catherine since they all met at summer camp years ago.

They were helping Catherine’s mom sort through her clothes when they spotted it – the dress she’d worn to prom.

"She went into the hospital four days after she wore her gown, so her gown was still hanging on the back of her closet door. and they saw it, and they said ah! let’s try it on!

It fit — perfectly.

And then an idea – the two of them and two of Catherine’s other friends — would each wear the dress to their proms: All held on different days.

"Catherine and I went to every school dance together so this was the first time that obviously wasn’t possible" said friend Lauren Hourican. "I think for me, wearing the dress was just a way to have her by my side while we’re out on the dance floor"

Four girls — four proms — one friend tying them all together.

They call it the "sisterhood of the traveling prom dress".

"There actually hasn’t needed to be any alterations to any of the dresses." said friend Carly Blau "It’s just, i don’t know — kind of Catherine’s magic just working on us. it fits all of us.

Jillian Danton wore it first in April.

Emma gets her turn next week.

"I think Catherine’s spirit will shine through me and all of us, really" says Emma Schambers "I think we’ll all feel more confident having her by my side, and I think she’d be really happy to know that we’re doing this"

The last time many of her friends saw Catherine — she was wearing this prom dress…

Her mom says seeing her friends in that same dress means so much.

"For me, it’s Catherine’s life extending, and that’s very important and special. everything a parent who has lost a child could hope for.  you know, they’re lovely stewards of her memory. and that’s what it means to me — it means that her life will continue on "

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