Brave. Strong. Fearless. Those are just a few words that can describe kids living with pediatric cancer or blood disorders.
In honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Sickle Cell Awareness Month, the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta put together a photo series spotlighting five courageous and resilient patients ranging in age from 4 to 15.
Titled “In Their Own Words,” the series depicts each patient with special flags (gold for childhood cancer and burgundy for sickle cell disease) featuring one word that describes their personal journeys.
“Kids with cancer and blood disorders are some of the strongest and wisest kids you’ll ever know,″ Jamie Brewer, whose 4-year-old daughter Caroline participated in the series, told HuffPost. “They have been through so much both physically and emotionally, and they seem to have a sixth sense about them, wise beyond their years.”
“They become some of the most compassionate people you’ll ever meet. My hope is that one day, all kids survive cancer and know that they can conquer anything that comes their way,” she added. “Suddenly a broken toy or a missed playdate doesn’t feel like such a big deal.”
Estimates suggest that nearly 16,000 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer in 2018, and even more will struggle with the debilitating impact of sickle cell disease.
Brewer, whose daughter has brain cancer, believes “In Their Own Words” captures the strength and fierceness of kids battling illness.
“You often associate pediatric cancer with pictures of kids with missing hair, going through difficult treatments,” she said. “While all of that is the reality of what families like ours deal with every day, I love this series because it leaves you feeling like these kids are strong, courageous, and full of hope. And children with cancer are all these things and more. They fight so hard to physically battle cancer, while also dealing emotionally with all of the changes in their lives and the lives of their family.”
Ultimately, Brewer hopes the photos of the patients holding signs with their “battle cries” raises awareness around these medical struggles.
“It is my most sincere hope that after seeing these photos, people will feel the strength of these children and want to be a part of saving kids’ lives by creating awareness and funding research,” she said. “Awareness helps funding, and funding will one day lead to a cure.”
Keep scrolling to see more photos and read the young patients’ stories.