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Childhood Cancer Survivors Go Viral For Empowering Annual Photo Shoot

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Lora Scantling is a very successful photographer from Yukon, Oklahoma. Although Scantling is an extremely talented photographer, she is most famous for the work she does for free. Five years ago, a personal tragedy led her to start the tradition of photographing childhood cancer survivors. Three special little girls (Ainsley, Rheann, and Rylie) have been the subjects of Scantling’s pictures, and they have captured the hearts of people all across the world. Each year, the three girls visit Scantling’s studio to do another empowering photo shoot. Recently, a fourth childhood cancer survivor, a boy named Connor, has started participating in the pictures Where did it all begin, and how has this one of a kind photo session impacted the world?

The Beginning

Over the past decade, Lori Scantling lost two dear ones to cancer. First, her father died of cancer. A short time later, the child of one of her closest friends left this world far too soon.

Lora knew there was very little she could do to cure cancer, but she wanted to do something to help the families who were going through so much suffering. In dealing with the grief of losing her own loved ones, Lori realized that the memories of cherished people who have left us can fade away quickly. She wanted to help families of children with cancer to preserve the memories of their lives forever. She sent out a Facebook announcement offering to do free photo shoots for local children battling cancer.

Three amazing families responded. Their daughters were named Rheann, Rylie, and Ainsley. When the three girls met for the first time in Lora’s studio, no one realized that the three families were about to form the bond of a lifetime. True to her signature style, Lora captured the special girls in a style that was magical and ethereal. They had an amazing time, and their pictures made unique keepsakes for their families.

When she posted their photos along with their stories on Facebook, people from all over the world responded, and the post quickly went viral. Families fighting childhood cancer said that seeing the pictures brought them comfort. The response was so overwhelming that Lora and the parents decided to make the photo shoot an annual event.

Little Heroes Photo Project

Soon, Lora named the annual photo shoot the Little Heroes Photo Project. That name is very appropriate for these girls because they have maintained a resilient attitude throughout their challenging short lives. Despite the grueling treatments and the uncertain diagnoses, the three girls have remained hopeful.

Over the course of the Photo Project, all three of the original girls have gone into remission. So far, they still have a clean bill of health. Rheann, Ainsley, and Rylie still wanted to participate in the photo shoot every year to bring hope to other children going through the same disease. Scantling has accepted feedback from the tight-knit social media family she has created and incorporated their ideas into her shoots.

Many wanted to see a child who was still going through cancer treatment incorporated in the photo shoot. That child ended up being Connor, a strong young man who will continue receiving treatment for blood cancer for several years. One year, the photo shoot had a fallen fighters theme where the four participants held up pictures of children who have lost their battle with cancer.

What It Means

These are far more than just pictures. They remind children dealing with cancer that they are just as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside. Seeing survivors gives hope to children who are still battling through debilitating treatments. It also brings comfort to families who have lost children to cancer to see that. Scantling is giving a voice to a community that often feels helpless and forgotten. Each year, she provides a special day for four children and puts a smile on the faces of millions of others.

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