Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Hattie’s Gold Hope Project

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.

How I got involved with The Gold Hope Project

I’ve had the honor of working with a few childhood cancer fighters on my own before I signed up as a Gold Hope volunteer.  My little friends Arya, Katelyn and Finn have been such an inspiration to me that I knew I wanted to be able to photograph more heroes like them.  I love that the Gold Hope Project  offers this gift to families who are going through so much, all while raising awareness and money to fight this awful disease.

My buddy Finn was an amazing little 3 year old who completely touched my heart and recently got his wings after a long fight with Rhabdomyosarcoma. The faith and strength with which his family fought this battle has been an inspiration to me, and to our entire community.  While I am heartbroken, I feel blessed to have known this super hero for even a brief time. If I can give just a little something to other kids like Finn and their families, then I want to do that.

Hattie’s Story:

I met Hattie last December, just a couple days after Christmas. She had received a bone marrow transplant just a few months earlier. Her family actually lives in Knoxville, but had temporarily relocated to Nashville for her transplant and recovery. Lots of families fighting childhood cancer have to deal with the additional burden of living away from home. This creates extra cost, and also the strain of being away from family and friends to help them get through this tough time.

Hattie was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia at the age of 9 months. She had known hospital life for half of her life so far at the time of our session.  Hattie loves superheroes and her favorite Disney princess is Belle. She also loves elephants, just like me. She watches the movies Moana, Secret Life of Pets, and Coco over and over.

Our Time Together:

I met Hattie on a rainy day in December and she stole my heart. We had hoped for nice enough weather for an outdoor session, but did not get so lucky. Very soon after our session, Hattie was able to move back home to Knoxville because she had completed her treatment in Nashville. This was great news, but also meant that we weren’t’ able to wait for more pleasant weather.

The Factory of Franklin was kind enough to waive their normal photography permit fee, so we chose to do the session inside of the Factory. Hattie was not feeling well at all just before our session, and had been sick as a side effect of her treatment. But this little trooper pulled through and did an amazing job for her photos. She was just the sweetest little thing. Her mom had said to me before that Hattie makes a lot of funny faces, and she was not wrong!! We captured some of the most adorable expressions on her.

Hattie had the cutest doll with her at the session that was handmade by volunteers at a non-profit called Feel Better Friends. The doll was made to look just like Hattie, and they even had matching hats. There is a link on their website to donate if you’d like to help more kids receive these cool dolls.

I have followed Hattie’s story since we met, and am happy to report that she’s at home with her family in Knoxville dand doing great. Please pray for her continued remission.

Where to Read More About Hattie:

Hattie’s Gold Hope Session Blog

Hattie’s Website

Earlier this week, I blogged about my first official Gold Hope Session with sweet Kelly. Read about her session here.

I still have a few Fall Portrait sessions left. What are you waiting for? Book yours today.

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