LUZERNE — When Taylor Thoryk was first diagnosed with leukemia, she felt like giving up.
The support of her high school classmates, however, has helped the Wyoming Valley West junior keep fighting.
That support was hard to miss at the school’s prom on Friday, when students were rallied behind Taylor, 17, of Luzerne — all wearing surgical masks in what Principal Erin Keating called an act of “solidarity.”
Keating said class advisers told students that Taylor might be able to attend prom but would have to wear a surgical mask. The students decided to also wear masks so Taylor would feel more comfortable.
No one was required to wear a mask, but Keating said that once the announcement that Taylor was almost there was made, students flocked to grab masks from the chaperones.
“It was not a question — they just did it,” Keating said.
Thoryk went to prom with her mother, Julie Thoryk, 40. They arrived to find all of Taylor’s classmates wearing surgical masks, which brought both Taylor and her mother to tears.
“Her classmates have been nothing but supportive,” Julie Thoryk said. She said the move didn’t surprise her, but it was still an emotional moment. “It’s very overwhelming.”
Taylor was also emotional due to the showing by her classmates. She said her classmates lined up and asked to have pictures taken with her — they also just wanted to let her know how happy they were to see her there.
“It was amazing,” Taylor said. “I really didn’t think it was going to be that awesome,”
It initially didn’t look like Taylor would be able to go to her own prom.
Julie Thoryk explained her daughter was diagnosed with a form of leukemia called acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in October. She had to undergo aggressive treatment for many months at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville.
When Taylor first went to the hospital, Julie Thoryk said that 86 percent of her bone marrow was affected by the disease.
Taylor was finally able to come home in March and found out about two weeks ago that she would be able to go to prom.
Julie Thoryk said Taylor needs to go back monthly to get blood work done. Until then, she said the family will have to “play it by ear and pray to God it doesn’t come back.”
Taylor said the prom would not be an event she would soon forget. With her classmate’s unwavering support, she also vowed to be positive as she looks to the future.
“I’m positive,” Taylor said. “It scares me, but I guess you’re always going to have that in the back of your head.”