September is childhood cancer awareness month. As many of you know, I am a volunteer photographer with an organization called The Gold Hope Project.
The mission of The Gold Hope Project is to gift families battling pediatric cancer with a free portrait session. Photos from the sessions are then used to raise awareness & funds for pediatric oncology research and treatment.
Through my work with the Gold Hope Project, I have had the honor of meeting some truly amazing little fighters, and their families. The short amount of time that I have spent with them has changed me for the better. I want to share a little about them with you.
If your child is currently fighting childhood cancer, or is a survivor under the age of 18, click here to apply for a free Gold Hope Session.
When I first shoot a session for the project, I have to wait until the images are featured on the Gold Hope Project website before I can share them myself. This can often take a while because there are so many sessions with families all over the country. As a result of this wait, I have not blogged these sessions yet. I thought that September would be a great time to go back and introduce you to all the amazing little ones I’ve met in the past year.
My very first official Gold Hope session was this past October with this amazing little girl, Kelly. Kelly was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma a couple months before her first birthday. She has stage 4 advanced Neuroblastoma. This is a very aggressive cancer with a very aggressive treatment plan. This poor sweet girl has been through a lot in her short lifetime, enduring many hospital stays and tough treatments. In the words of her mama, she is the bravest and strongest little girl, and always tries to do everything with a smile on her face.
It’s been about 10 months since I met with Kelly and her family, but I have continued to follow along with her story on her Facebook page. On September 9th, she will be admitted in the hospital for hopefully the very last time, for a very hard last round of treatments. Please continue to keep her in your prayers.
Our Time Together:
Kelly’s session is probably one of my favorites of all time. She was just absolutely so much fun to be around. Her smile was infectious, and her joy comes through in the photos, and when I look at them, I can’t help but smile.
The light and the weather were magical that day, and everything just came together perfectly. One of the things I love about toddlers is that they are so fascinated by the world around them, and find wonder in the things the rest of us take for granted. Kelly was even more so enamored by the beauty around her, having spent a good portion of her life in hospital rooms. She had so much fun exploring the park, and it was a gift to imagine what the world looked like through her eyes.
We played hide and seek, and she giggled so hard when her daddy would jump from behind a tree. Kelly loved the bubble machine that I sometimes pull out at sessions. She showed me one of her favorite Eric Carle books (Brown Bear, Brown Bear) and we listened to her favorite song from the Moana movie.
Kelly had to have surgery not long after our session, so I was so very thankful that she was able to enjoy our time together.
I hope that her family was able to find a few moments of joy, leaving behind the burdens and stresses of fighting cancer. I’m so glad they were able to take a break from all the worries and just enjoy their beautiful little girl. I hope that when they look at the photos, that it brings them back to those happy memories and gives them hope of more beautiful moments in the future.
Where to Read More About Kelly:
Some Facts about Go Gold for Childhood Cancer:
- In 1997, a group of parents picked gold as the official color for the childhood cancer awareness ribbon. The color gold symbolizes how precious children are and the resiliency of childhood cancer heroes. Unlike other awareness ribbons which symbolize one specific disease, the childhood cancer ribbon stands for dozens of diseases. You can learn more about the different types of childhood cancer, including brain tumors, leukemia and other solid tumors like neuroblastoma here.
- The color gold symbolizes how precious children are and the resiliency of childhood cancer heroes. Unlike other awareness ribbons which symbolize one specific disease, the childhood cancer ribbon stands for dozens of diseases.
I still have a few Fall Portrait sessions left. What are you waiting for? Book yours today.