BY: JESSICA BEUKER
“Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” A line from a Shel Silverstein poem was all it took to inspire Jonathan Diaz to make dreams come true for child cancer patients. His ‘Anything Can Be’ project is a series of photographs that depicts children with cancer in a different light—in the midst of their wildest dreams.
A lawyer by day and a photographer by night, Diaz spent years doing fashion photography. Over time he decided that he wanted his work to make a bigger impact and decided to achieve that through helping children.
Each child who is a part of the project gets to play dress up for a day and take part in a photo shoot. The results show the children in their dream jobs, accomplishing their goals, and living out their wildest fantasies.
One patient, Ellie Porter dreamed of becoming a baker. With her pink polka dot apron and chef’s hat, Porter got the chance to knead dough, toss flour, make frosting and be surrounded by as many cakes, cupcakes and pies as she could imagine. According to Deseret News, while the setup was make-believe, the look of happiness on the six-year-old’s face wasn’t.
“I feel like these kids are facing this horrible, pointless disease and if I can make them happy for a day and give them hope and inspiration and show them that anything is possible, then maybe my photography would mean something,” said Diaz to Deseret News.
Diaz turned his project into a book, which includes over 25 photographs of children accompanied by short stories about the patients’ experiences with cancer. All proceeds from the book go towards cancer research. According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is the second leading cause of death in children. Yet, funding for cancer research is most often directed towards adult types—specifically breast and colon cancer.
Diaz hopes to change that, and bring attention to what these children are dealing with. “I’m one of those people who just dreams as big as possible,” said Diaz in an interview with Deseret News. “I want to bring as much awareness as possible to this horrible, no good disease. And when another kid sees this book, he can find somebody in the book that is in a similar situation as he is and he can gain hope and inspiration from that image.”