Through the Eyes of Our Survivors
Everyone has a story. Sometimes, no number of words can express the impact that story has on someone’s life. Where words fail, photos can become the storyteller.
PhotoVoice is an empowering and reflective project where Valley Children's childhood cancer survivors selected five topics, each relating to their cancer journey. For each area, the survivors were asked to photograph images that resonated with them when thinking of that topic.
More than words can express.
Meet The Survivors
At the age of only 2, Clinton was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma. While perhaps too young to understand what was happening in the moment, his life was changed forever – bringing on years of treatment, physical therapy and follow-up appointments. His original diagnosis may be a far off memory, but the impacts of his cancer journey are still seen in his life today.
Since Clinton has been involved with the Valley Children’s Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program, he has been able to connect with others who have similar stories to share.
If Emily were to describe her cancer journey in three words, she would say “hard, enlightening and encouraging.” These words are reflected through Emily’s photography as well as her outlook on life. Emily was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma at 4 years old. Since she has been out of treatment and involved with the Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program, she has realized that she truly is a cancer survivor and now has the ability to own that experience and move on with her life.
When at the age of 16 she was told she had cancer, Savannah had one thought: “What next?” For Savannah, her rhabdomyosarcoma diagnosis was never looked at as fatal; instead, it was merely a roadblock. After being involved with the Valley Children’s Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program for eight years, Savannah recognized the importance of a project like PhotoVoice.
“PhotoVoice has shown me that a picture elicits a thousand emotions,” says Savannah. “A single photo can portray pain and fear, but also love and faith. These photos we’ve taken represent an experience that I don’t know can ever be described in words.”
If a child who was recently diagnosed with cancer asked for advice, Scott would provide some valuable words of wisdom: “Don’t feel like you have to be Superman. Say what’s on your mind, even if you don’t know exactly how to say it – and FIGHT! No matter what, never give up, even if you want to.”
These words come after years of his own experience. In 2001, then 16, Scott was diagnosed with stage II alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that forms in the soft tissue. Three years later, while in remission, Scott received the devastating news his cancer was back, but this time it was chronic myeloid leukemia, a blood-cell cancer that begins in the bone marrow. For him, the Valley Children’s Survivorship Program has been like therapy – providing him a voice and purpose.
Dr. John Gates, Medical Director of Valley Children’s Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program, part of the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center
At the age of 5, Dr. John Gates was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Through years of chemotherapy, radiation and an experimental bone marrow transplant, Dr. Gates experienced firsthand the challenges of treatments, including two relapses. In 2005, he joined Valley Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and later launched the region’s only Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program. Through the PhotoVoice project, he was simply “John,” reflecting on and sharing his cancer journey not as a physician, but as a childhood cancer survivor.