Photographer Jonathan Diaz makes dreams a reality for children fighting pediatric cancer by helping them create their very own fairy tales. Diaz teamed up with 21 children and 21 bestselling authors to create dreamy 'hero-scapes,' fantasy photos, accompanied by a story by one of their favorite authors.
The photos and accompanying stories, published as a book --"True Heroes: A Treasury of Modern-day Fairy Tales Written by Best-selling Authors" -- are meant to remind kids that they are full of power, strength, hope and happiness. The book goes on sale September 8, 2015, in conjunction with National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
In this photo, Braelyn who has the most common form of childhood cancer (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) is transformed into a superhero who saves her friends (stuffed animals).
Ethan Super Doctor
Ethan wanted to be a doctor and Batman so the photo created by Diaz combined those dreams. Diaz has found that many kids facing cancer have "a sense of empathy for the struggles of others." Ethan's desire to be both a superhero and a medical professional came as no surprise to Diaz.
In October 2014, Ethan's family decided to celebrate all the remaining holidays of the year in just one week. The entire community came together together for the celebration. Ethan passed away from Leukemia soon after. Diaz believes that Ethan "beat his cancer by the way he lived and the example of courage he showed us all."
Caimbre The Mermaid
Caimbre lives in California, so it plays to reason that her dream was to be a mermaid. Diaz found the perfect location for the photo shoot in Laguna Beach. "Caimbre's beautiful expression, full of hope and life perfectly embodies what this project is about," explained Diaz.
According to the American Cancer Society about 10,000 children under the age of 15 in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer in 2015. Because of major advances in treatment in the past few decades more than 80 percent of kids now survive five years or more. Still, cancer is the second leading cause of death in children (after accidents).
Jordan in Wonderland
Three weeks after her father passed away, Jordan Kennedy was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of bone cancer. This photo was taken two weeks before she lost her fight.
"Together," Diaz said, "she and I imagined a better place... a wonderland, where pain and hurt was not a worry, where she was perfect and healthy."
Annika The Fashion Designer
An entire fashion studio was created for two-year-old Annika, who has Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. Annika loves shoes in particular.
Now three, she was in remission during the photo shoot, but has since relapsed and is getting chemotherapy.
Diaz started the project in January 2014. Many of the children are being or have been treated at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City.
Carson The Bull Rider
Carson, who has been battling Leukemia since 2012, has the nickname Tuff Boy. According to Diaz, "Carson was pretty shy at first and kind of scared to ride on top of the fake bull. But he was brave and was able to give us a great pose. He had the chance to ride a horse for the first time that day too, it was really special to see him experience that for the first time."
Ellie The Baker
Ellie, who was diagnosed with a really rare form of cancer especially in children, dreams of becoming a baker. Diaz wanted to show Ellie as an amazing baker who could "do things that seemed impossible."
"Some of the food was fake but by in large all of the food was real. We had contributions from probably six or seven local bakers and bakeries for that shoot," according to Diaz.
Ellie is now in remission and back at school. She will continue to be closely monitored by her doctor.
Tristan The Football Player
Tristan's aggressive form of bone cancer necessitated amputating his right leg below the knee to prevent the cancer from spreading. Losing his leg hasn't kept him from dreaming big -- he wants to someday play for the San Francisco 49ers. Tristan continues to be an active kid, only now he runs around with a cool metal prosthetic.
Cami the Fairy
On the day of Cami's fantasy photo shoot, she and her family found out she was finally cancer free after a bone marrow transplant. She was treated for Leukemia.
Diaz wanted to show Cami as a strong, beautiful fairy.
Rae The Princess
Rae's dream is to become a princess. The photographer brought out her bubbly personality in the photo of her feeding a 'unicorn.'
The young girl has a form of brain cancer. Only five percent of all those diagnosed with this type of cancer make it past a year. "She has passed the benchmark," explains Diaz and "is going strong."
Jacob The Moto Cross Racer
Diaz first met Jacob at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles and was immediately struck by his confident, outgoing nature. Jacob's dream is to become a motocross racer.
Jacob has a tumor on his optic nerve. An operation to remove it risks blinding him so doctors monitor its progression for now.
Sophie The Librarian
When her mother told Diaz that Sophie's dream was to read a lot, he was initially perplexed as to how to create an image for her. It struck Diaz that showing what Sophie's imagination created from the books was much more interesting than a photo of her just reading a book.
Diaz describes Sophie as a young girl who lives each day to the fullest. Sophie has had a challenging life dealing with cancer, a serious heart condition and down syndrome.
William the Dragon Rider
William is facing his second bout with Leukemia at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City.
Diaz remembers that, "William and I had a great adventure searching for dragon hideouts. It was the first time I was able to see William just being a boy, full of life and adventure!"
William's photo is the cover of the book "True Heroes." Royalties from the book will help create more "future childhood dream making."
Each portrait is accompanied by an original fairly tale written by well-known children's book writers.
Jonathan Diaz with Braelyn.
Diaz, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, founded Anything Can Be to bring pediatric cancer patients' dreams to life by having them star in photo creations of their fantasy life. Diaz hopes the photos will help young cancer patients to believe in the impossible.