This photoshoot became an annual tradition, which helps remind these three cancer free kids of all that they’ve gone through. The photographer hopes that the photographs also serve as an inspiration to other children who are going through the same ordeal.
Lora, the photographer, was inspired to start this project after she lost a few family members to the disease. She wanted to put cancer in the spotlight and the need to fight it in every conceivable way.
Cancer is the common thread that bound these three girls together. Every year, they reunite for a photoshoot in Lora Scantling’s studio as a beautiful reminder that they are not alone in their medical battle. But now, things have changed for the better, as these lasses are now cancer-free kids!
Rheann Franklin, 11, Ainsley Peters, 10, and Rylie Hughey, 8, are all from Oklahoma. The girls met for the first time during a photo shoot in April 2014 while they were still being treated for cancer. The picture showed the girls hugging each other with their eyes closed.
Four months later, they recreated this photo – this time with their eyes open and with big smiles on their faces – as they all declared that they are in remission!
Lora told TODAY.com: “The first shot with their eyes closed portrayed that they were there for each other during the fight and embracing each other for comfort, and this time I wanted to show their bond is still strong and that they beat it together. I love watching these girls when they are together. They have such a sweet bond and always get excited when they get to see each other.”
The girls have remained close since their first meeting in 2014.
Last year, the trio was joined by a new kid, 4-year-old Connor Lloyd, who is currently being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This year, the boy joined them once again for another photo shoot.
“It means a lot for our family to help raise awareness for childhood cancer, and we felt Connor joining the shoot last year would show that while the girls are doing great, every day new kids are diagnosed. Childhood cancer is not as rare as people may believe and could happen to anyone at any time unexpectedly,” Connor’s parents wrote in an email to TODAY.
Lora told TODAY in an email: “This project has been amazing. I get some of the most heartwarming messages about people who come across the photo online and tell me about how it has helped them or someone they know through a dark time in their life.”
For this year’s image, Lora had the four kids pose with photographs of nine children – “fallen fighters” who died while fighting cancer – as a way to remember and honor those who didn’t survive.
The girls are now cancer-free kids, but they are still feeling the treatment’s effects.
Rheann, who has grown four inches taller from last year, had to undergo growth hormone treatment as a result of her past cancer treatments. She can no longer grow hair because of the intense radiation to her skull during chemotherapy. Her eyes also droop due to the damage caused by the tumor that sat on her brain stem.
According to her parents, Rheann has had “some changes” over the past year. But they are “all for the better,” and they assured that she is doing “really well.”
When she was just 2 years old, Rylie had to have one of her kidneys removed and a part of the other one taken out during her treatment for stage 4 bilateral Wilms tumors. But now, the girl is active in sports! She plays football, is involved in gymnastics, and loves to dance.
Rylie’s mother, Bridget Hughey, told TODAY in an email:
“The most precious thing that has come from this is watching Rylie’s faith grow and mature, and watching her have so much love in her heart for everyone around her.”
Ainsley is cancer-free but still goes for check-ups twice a year. Her hobbies include singing, reading, riding bikes, and playing with her brother and friends.
We’re so happy that these girls are now cancer-free kids! May these photos and stories serve as an inspiration to families of children with cancer, and remind them that there is always hope.
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