Photographers Lora Scantling and Christy Goodger started something special back in 2014, when they sent out an open call of a rather unique variety.
Scantling’s stepfather had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and she was aiming to begin a project that would pay tribute to him and his battle.
She put a post on Facebook with the aim of finding little children who were facing their own fight with cancer, and the response was tear-jerkingly amazingly. Since then, she’s photographed dozens of boys and girls in the midst of their struggle against the illness, but three little girls stood out from the rest…
Three young girls from Oklahoma posed for a special photo that would quickly become an iconic image. Six-year-old Rheann Frankling, center, was battling a rare brain tumour, five-year-old Ainsley Peters, to the right, was fighting Leukemia, and Rylie Hughey, on the left, was trying to get the better of kidney cancer.
Dressed like angels and embracing each other, the three girls posed for a photo that would end up spreading worldwide.
Ainsley’s mother says the image is particularly poignant, as it’s “a beautiful look at a horrifying struggle.”
A year after the first photo was taken, the three little models came together again in order to replicate the image.
For this photo, all three girls were in remission, with Ainsley and Rylie both sporting hair. Rheann’s victory over brain cancer means her hair will never grow back, but that doesn’t make her any less adorable.
According to Scantling, the three girls had spirits to match their vibrant dresses.
“It was just like a bunch of friends getting together,” she recalls.
“They were bouncing off the walls, having fun, like, ‘Oh my best friends are here.’”
The photos continue
Despite the fact that all three of the girls were officially cancer survivors, Scantling decided she wanted to continue taking their photos.
She says it’s her plan to keep updating the iconic image every year, making it an annual tradition.
It’s easy to see why the girls continue to inspire people suffering from the terrible illness worldwide. Sadly, Scantling’s own stepfather passed away in the years following the first photoshoot, but she continues to draw strength from her brave models.
This year, however, the girls were joined by another. Three-year-old Connor Lloyd had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and, with Scantling being Lloyd’s family photographer, she decided to invite him to the studio.
“Sometimes you never know how much time you have,” she explained to his mother.
What a rollercoaster ride of emotions that was! We’re so happy there are people like Scantling in the world, doing their best to spread joy and happiness. And what about the children? Such bravery in the face of terrifying adversity. Wish wish Connor, Rheann, Ainsley and Rylie all the very best in the future.
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