I recently wrote about our shoot for Flashes of Hope. The purpose of these sessions is to create portraits of some of the 12,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year. For families of terminally-ill children it is particularly important to preserve through photography the bravery, grace and dignity of their child. This is done using volunteer professional photographers as well as sponsors such as WHCC, the professional lab that donates photographic prints to the families.
Though most Flashes of Hope photo sessions take place in a hospital, we photographed at a picnic hosted by Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. A forest preserve provided a much more relaxed atmosphere for these kids than a hospital setting. It was an afternoon of ice cream instead of IV tubes.
The same day that I photographed 15 children and their families, I read the following in the New York Times: “RIGHT now cancer care is being rationed in the United States.” There is a severe shortage of cancer drugs. In fact, in “Shortchanging Cancer Patients” Ezekiel J. Emanuel reports, “If you are a pediatric oncologist, you know how to cure 70 to 80 percent of patients. But without these drugs you are out of business.” Apparently, the shortages seem to be the results of corporate decisions to cease production because of low profit margins.
This is just ONE thing that these kids and their families face on a daily basis. It’s not hard to see bravery on their faces in the photos.
If Flashes of Hope “changes the way children with cancer see themselves through the gift of photography” as they say on their web site, I think quite possibly they’ve changed the way photographers see themselves as well. If drug manufacturers could see some of these kids there might also be some changes in how they see their mission.