- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A St. Louis teen has received significant attention on the Internet as she continued to model professionally while fighting cancer.

Photos of 17-year-old Zaria McDonald going to prom in a St. Louis designer’s dress went viral on social media, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1RbFbbF ) reported. She had lost her hair from chemotherapy.

“It was a shock because I didn’t expect anything like that. I mean, I was just going to prom,” said McDonald, who went with a date she described as a friend. “But I’m really glad that some people found it inspirational.”

McDonald was fighting an extremely aggressive form of cancer from a synovial sarcoma tumor in her knee. The malignant soft tissue cancer affects less than three people per million.

McDonald was declared cancer-free on April 25, the Monday after prom.

“All I thought about was ‘what does it mean for cancer to be aggressive?’ How aggressive?” McDonald said about finding out her diagnosis.

McDonald began modeling for Lillian Jones’ Laha children’s clothing line when she was 14. When she was 15, she modeled adult clothing at the first Missouri Style Week.

“There was something special about her,” said Cillah Hall, co-founder of Missouri Style Week. “She was so confident and beautiful. It was something that came from deep inside.”

Nasheli Juliana Ortiz Gonzalez, an assistant fashion design professor at Lindenwood University, says that when she met McDonald in 2013, she was immediately charmed by the teen’s maturity and confidence.

“There’s this strong, powerful look to her,” Gonzalez said. “I just love her.”


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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