Tenn. Teen With Terminal Cancer Heads to Prom on Ride Through Bucket List

PHOTO: Katelyn Norman, 14, of LaFollette, Tenn., is dying from Osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer, but is trying to accomplish the items on her bucket list.
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A last slow dance, learning to drive a car, a day with each sibling and seeing Italy are all items on 14-year-old Katelyn Norman's bucket list. She doesn't have a lifetime to accomplish the goals, however, so her family, friends and community are rallying around her to make them happen.

Katelyn is dying from osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer. After fighting the cancer for two years, she was told last week that it has spread and there's not much more doctors can do. She was sent home to spend her last days.

She hopes to check off some of the items on her bucket list at a personalized prom tonight in LaFollette, Tenn., where she will be surrounded by friends, family, classmates and her doctors.

"They said that it has spread a lot, my cancer, and that it's the beginning of the end of my days and so we started a bucket list," Katelyn told ABC News Knoxville affiliate WATE-TV. "[I'm] ecstatic. I can't wait. I just can't wait to go."

Her bucket list also includes a last kiss, a Marilyn Monroe piercing, and attending an Of Mice and Men concert and getting an autographed T-shirt.

"I just want to give her what she isn't going to see and just try to fulfill what she wants to do. It's not really much, but it's something to her," mom Erica Nelson told WATE. "We're very grateful that they're wanting to come help Katelyn. She's touched a lot of people."

The prom's theme is "Katie in the Sky with Diamonds" and about 1,000 people with candles are expected to line the road leading to the dance venue to show support for the vibrant girl who has touched so many. The candle event is called "Light the Night for Kate."

"I've never seen this community come together quite as much as they have over one single person," school nurse Sharon Shepherd told ABCNews.com. "[Katelyn] will change your life. You'll never be the same. She will make an impact on you. She's a jewel. My life will never be the same."

Shepherd works at Campbell County High School, where Katelyn is a freshman. She has known Katelyn since she was 5 and has grown close to the teen since her diagnosis in eighth-grade.

Shepherd calls Katelyn "my little short and sassy Katie bug" and says she considers Katelyn "one of my own."

"Katelyn is very energetic. She's a fighter," Shepherd said. "She's just very opinionated and very well-spoken, very headstrong, very driven and that's what has gotten her this far."

Katelyn's mother sums up her daughter with the Alicia Keyes song "Girl on Fire," which includes the lyrics, "Looks like a girl, but she's a flame / So bright, she can burn your eyes / Better look the other way / You can try but you'll never forget her name."

Despite her own pain, Katelyn and her best friend, Brandon Huckaby, traveled together as advocates for GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network since they both have family and friends that fall under those identifications.

"She's always used her sense of humor and her grab on others to push to make everything better for everyone," Brandon, 16, told ABCNews.com. "She doesn't care that she's suffering. She cares that other people are suffering and she wants to stop that."

Brandon was saddened when he realized he was going to lose his best friend, but has taken it upon himself to help her accomplish the items on her bucket list.

"I'm losing my best friend and there's not really anything I can do about it so when I figured out there was something I could do, I pretty much put my foot to the ground and said, 'You know what? This is happening. I'm getting this done,'" he said.

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