On prom night, Va. students wear protective masks to support fri - myfoxcarolinas.com

On prom night, Va. students wear protective masks to support friend with cancer

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(Photo Courtesy: Simone Beaty) (Photo Courtesy: Simone Beaty)
WOODBRIDGE, Va. -

A Virginia high school student wanted to go to his girlfriend's prom, but his doctor told him he had to wear a mask to protect himself from getting sick. What his girlfriend and their group of friends did to make him feel comfortable at the prom will no doubt warm your heart.

The 18-year-old you are about to meet received a cancer diagnosis last September. Chemotherapy wasn't far behind.

As if that wasn't tough enough for anyone, especially a teen, his doctor said if he was going to go to the prom, he had to wear a protective mask.

“They had said that I was diagnosed with testicular cancer,” said Jared Hill. “It didn't hit me at first until I got home. And then later that night, I tried to sit down and do some English homework and I just couldn't. I started bawling.”

Testicular cancer is news no one wants to ever hear. Jared is a senior at Hylton High School in Woodbridge.

Chemotherapy became a necessary course of action in Jared's cancer fight, but the treatment compromised his immune system, making him more susceptible to getting sick. So if Jared wanted to take his girlfriend Emily Jarrell to her senior prom at Osbourn Park High School, he had to follow doctor's orders.

“I just had to wear a mask at all times and make sure I didn't really make contact with too many other people,” Jared said.

That is when Emily and some of their friends had an idea. Everyone in Jared and Emily's prom night group, all 17 of them, would wear protective masks. They were unified for Jared.

“It makes me feel real happy to have such great friends,” he said. “For them to do something as big as that for me, that showed a lot of character.”

“Not a lot of people get to know, especially this early, such small things that can make such a big impact on how other people feel about themselves in public,” said Emily.

Jared, Emily and their friends set out prom night last Saturday wearing those masks the whole time. The photos tell the story. It was a magical night they will all remember forever.

“Since there was so many of us, it made me feel not so alone,” Jared said. “It helped a lot.”

“If I'm wearing the mask, sure it gets hotter quicker, but I don't notice any difference,” said Emily. “It was really touching because he was so happy.”

Their friend Simone Beaty was not only part of the prom group that proudly wore a mask in support of Jared. She also helped plan it.

“We put it on Facebook and it's gotten 300 likes and all these comments about how it’s inspiring and we just did it to be nice,” she said. “We didn't know it would have such a big impact on people.”

Jared said he hopes to bring additional awareness about testicular cancer. He admitted it was difficult for him to talk about it with his peers, but he said you have got to be able to discuss it and know that you can beat it.

Testicular cancer is actually the most common cancer in American males between the ages of 15 and 34.

Jared is done with chemotherapy and is doing a lot better, but he is not done with his cancer fight just yet.

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