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Children Living With Cancer Fulfill Their Dreams In These Beautiful Portraits

Helping paediatric cancer patients bring their dreams to life.

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Salt Lake City-based photographer Jonathan Diaz' project Anything Can Be was inspired by Shel Silverstein's poem "Listen to the Mustn'ts", which ends: “Anything can happen, child, ANYTHING can be.”

Diaz attempted to turn Silverstein’s words into visual form, using his skills to give hope to child cancer patients through portrait photography.

“I started the Anything Can Be project because I wanted to use my photography talent for something good. I wanted to tell stories that mattered that could inspire and help other people. I am fascinated with children’s imaginations – they tend to believe that anything is possible, they are so optimistic. I wanted to help these kids believe in their dreams.

“I felt like if they could visualise themselves in their dreams, see themselves as courageous and strong and not stuck in a hospital bed, it would help them fight cancer.” – Jonathan Diaz

"You've made a difference for us! I can't even tell you how many times I've looked at this photo today. It is absolute perfection. It makes me so happy. This picture is like therapy for me. It makes everything feel right in the world when I look at it. As Annika grows up I know that she will treasure this." – Cheryl (Annika's mum)

"It was so special and fun to see Braelyn transformed into the superhero we already know she is inside. Even now, months after her photo shoot, she still talks about how she is Superhero Braelyn. This project means a lot to us, not only because of how it has lifted Braelyn's spirits, but because of how it is bringing much needed awareness to this awful disease. Awareness leads to funding, which means research, which leads to a cure. A cure is something these kids need and deserve. They deserve to grow up and live their dreams!" – Kristin (Braelyn's mum)

"My biggest inspiration at first was the imaginations of my children. But in the end it really came down to each kid that participated. They became my biggest inspiration. I was so amazed by their courage in the face of an extraordinary fight. Many of them face extreme hardships that I could only imagine. They are so optimistic in the face of it all and I wanted to convey that optimism and hope in the images." – Jonathan Diaz

"I want people to look at these photographs and see these kids as heroic, brave, and full of hope. I want to inspire my viewers to fight for their dreams, to find hope that if these kids can face such harrowing circumstances then they can as well." – Jonathan Diaz

"This image isn’t just a picture, it was about taking my son on a journey. The day his dream was brought to life is one for the memory book. It is one we will tell him many times as he grows older. It is one I hope to tell his children one day. It was not just a dream come true for Carson, but our whole family who were able to enjoy the day with him.

"We spent the day on Stembridge Ranch in Peoa, Utah. With Carson receiving a special gift, a belt buckle, ridding a dummy bull, riding a horse, and ending the day enjoying a meal with the many who made the day possible. The image to us as his parents is something we could never give him, it is something we could have only “wished” or “dreamed” of. But to see this picture, come to life, after his battling for his life for nearly three years, was incredible. ... We are overcome with, love, happiness, and appreciation." – Sarah (Carson's mum)

"Eli still talks about it, 'It was the best day ever!' That weekend Eli was on top of the world. The project brought out so much confidence in him. It was so cool for him, just hanging with the pros. The Anything Can Be project was so great to Eli, and so generous. It always makes a parent smile to see your child having the time of his life and being part of a dream that they have. I love that Jon has created a lasting picture to capture all of its greatness. Thank you, Anything Can Be." – Jill (Eli's mum)

"The happiest part has just been the opportunity to see the kids faces when they see themselves in their images. The saddest part is the realisation that so much isn't being done to help these kids. Funding is woefully low for paediatric cancer. Because it is not a money maker, pharmaceutical companies don't put a lot of money into it. Also facing the harsh reality that some of the kids in the book have passed away, and some are still fighting for their lives." – Jonathan Diaz

"I have learned that there is hope to hold on to no matter what circumstances we face. I know that for some it may not seem that way, but I have seen it in the eyes of children and mothers who have been told that there isn't any hope." – Jonathan Diaz

"You are amazing, Jonathan Diaz! I wish I could express to you how much our picture means to us. It is truly priceless!" – Jennifer (Ethan's mom)

“Having Cami involved in this project was such a joy for our family. It really was a form of healing for all of us, in more ways than one. Jon gave Cami the gift of a dream. It filled her head in place of the scary cancer monsters, or the pain, or the worry of what is to come. She always smiled from ear to ear when we talked about her photo shoot and wondered what her fairy dress would look like.

"Childhood cancer is no easy thing. It can be dark and scary, but Jon has eased a bit of our burden. He has given us a beautiful distraction, a memory, and a dream to smile about and to always remember!” – Chelsea (Cami's mum)

To sponsor a child, please go here. All donations go directly to the Anything Can Be project and 100% of the donations will be used to make the dreams of paediatric cancer patients come to life.

Diaz has also collated the Anything Can Be photographs into a book that can be purchased here.

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