September is both Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and to raise awareness of and donations toward research for both diseases, the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta launched a new photo series, “In Their Own Words,” that shows Children’s patients holding flags with words such as “fearless,” “hope,” and “brave.”
These words are meant to show what the young patients think of themselves, rather than the words used to define their conditions, such as “transfusion” and “blood count.” The campaign features five patients aged 4 to 15; three hold gold flags that represent cancer, and two hold burgundy flags that represent sickle cell disease.
“We asked five patients, ranging in age but sharing the common thread of that fighting spirit, to best describe their personal journeys in their own words. We then printed each word on a large flag and photographed participants holding their respective battle cries,” said a spokesperson from Children’s in an email. “We think the powerful photo series is a testament to their strength and aptly captures their awe-inspiring fierceness.”
Emmy, 8, Alpharetta
Diagnosed with sickle cell disease when she was a week old, Emmy has spent most of her life in and out of the hospital with chronic pain and bloodstream infections, according to Children’s. She goes there often for pain management and treatment.
Lana, 11, Atlanta
Diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma (a type of cancer that forms in nerve tissue and commonly affects children) when she was three-years-old, the middle-schooler is now healthy after “rigorous treatment,” says Children’s. Lana’s father is Blackberry Smoke drummer Brit Turner, and the band is currently running a donation match campaign through the end of the month.
Luke, 15, Gainesville
When he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in February, the cancer had spread throughout most of his body, from head to pelvis. After six months of inpatient chemotherapy, Children’s says, Luke’s scans now show no sign of cancer.
DaJean, 15, Douglasville
Diagnosed with sickle cell disease in utero, DaJean visits the hospital at least once a month for treatment, according to Children’s. He’s been a patient there since 2010, when his family moved to Georgia so he could receive better medical care.
Caroline, 4, Brookhaven
When a softball-sized tumor was discovered in Caroline’s brain in 2017, doctors warned the removal could leave her paralyzed or blind. The surgery was successful, but six months later, an MRI caught another brain tumor. She underwent two rounds of radiation and chemotherapy; her most recent MRI was “stable,” according to Children’s.
You can find more information about donating to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta here.