10 Awe-Inspiring Pics Reveal the Hidden Dreams of Kids With Cancer (PHOTOS)

Judy Dutton | Sep 3, 2015 Being a Mom
10 Awe-Inspiring Pics Reveal the Hidden Dreams of Kids With Cancer (PHOTOS)

anything can be kid cancerJust because a kid has cancer doesn't mean he or she gives up on having dreams -- and few things prove just how fantastical these reveries are as the Anything Can Be project, an effort by photographer Jonathan Diaz to capture the dreams of kids struggling with serious illnesses.

Diaz, a dad of four in Salt Lake City, Utah, got inspired to photograph sick kids acting out their fantasies to give them a sense of hope.

"I really want to do this for any kid who has a disability or disease that's causing them to not be able to run or jump, to show them that anything is possible," he says. 

Using a combination of photo shoots (free to the families) and Photoshop, Diaz has portrayed 21 kids in surreal scenarios from flying in capes to riding bulls. The photos attracted such high praise online, they were turned into a book titled True Heroes.

Since beginning this project in 2013, some of the kids have beaten cancer and are in remission while others still struggle; two have passed away -- one a mere few weeks after the photo shoot.

"Some people suggested maybe I was giving these kids false hope," Diaz says. "You know what? These kids need a distraction, especially those on their death beds." Indeed, families whose kids died said Diaz's photos brought them peace and happiness, because even in these dark instances, Diaz points out, "I think there's always something to hope for."

For a major dose of inspiration, check out these amazing photos.


Image via Anything Can Be

  • Tristan


    Image via Anything Can Be

    Tristan -- who lost a leg to bone cancer -- had always dreamed of playing for the San Francisco 49ers. "So we showed him playing in a game against the big guys," says Diaz.

  • Annika


    Image via Anything Can Be

    Photographed at the wee age of 2, "Annika was one of our youngest kids," says Diaz. "She loved fashion and was already picking out her own outfits, so the mother thought a fashion designer would be perfect."

  • Jordan


    Image via Anything Can Be

    Jordan loved the book Alice in Wonderland, and the fact that she was too weak to stand did not deter her from being determined to do the photo shoot. "I told her we could do the shoot sitting down, but she was adamant that she would stand," recalls Diaz. "It took three people to hold her up to pose for this picture."

    Jordan passed away a couple weeks after her shoot. "For me, seeing her strength and courage was the turning point in this project," Diaz continues. "Somehow Jordan knew this was important, that this would be something people would see. I want her legacy to live on."

  • Caimbre


    Image via Anything Can Be

    "Caimbre wanted to be a mermaid; she loves swimming," says Diaz. "So we got her an actual mermaid fin you can swim in and superimposed them against a California beach where she lives."

    More from The Stir: Mom Turns Kids With Special Needs Into Superheroes in Breathtaking Photos

  • Braelyn


    Image via Anything Can Be

    "This was the first photo shoot we did," says Diaz, who started this project in 2013. "Braelyn wanted to be a superhero and save her stuffed animals, so I gave her some art direction and suggested she save them from an oncoming train."

  • Ellie


    Image via Anything Can Be

    "Ellie's photo shoot was a bit different in that everything you see in that image was actually there with her," says Diaz. "We found a gourmet kitchen and brought in tons of pastries. She had a blast making a mess of this person's kitchen."

  • Carson


    Image via Anything Can Be

    "Carson wanted to be a bull rider, so we went to a ranch in Utah and had him ride a mechanical bull," says Diaz. "Then we superimposed him onto a real one."

    More from The Stir: 6 Photos That Perfectly Capture the Insanity of Parenting

  • Ethan


    Image via Anything Can Be

    Ethan -- who passed away at age 4 last year -- had two dreams: to be Batman and a doctor. "He wanted to be Batman to help people, and a doctor to save lives," Diaz explains. "That's something I learned from these kids; they have incredible empathy for others."

  • Marley


    Image via Anything Can Be

    "Marley was a little bit different: She had cancer when she was younger, beat it, and was actually living her dream," says Diaz. "At the time, she was playing soccer at Idaho State. The fact that she could play soccer at all was amazing; the treatments these kids go through are very hard on their bodies. We were really interested in telling her story as a way to prove it can happen."

  • Jake


    Image via Anything Can Be

    Jake -- who has a tumor on his optic nerve -- had always dreamed of riding a motocross bike. And after Diaz made it happen in photo form and posted the pic, it inspired someone else to help the boy, too. "After I posted the pic, a company in Utah called Soul Candy contacted Jake and allowed him to meet motorcross racer Robbie Madison." And this surprise outcome is actually a big goal of this project: "I want people to see my images and be inspired to do something to help, too."

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