Annual photo of Oklahoma cancer survivors adds new faces to frame

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YUKON, Okla. – Three young Oklahoma cancer survivors pose annually to honor their journey, but this year the woman behind the lens hopes to highlight the children who also lost their battle with the disease.

“I want to give her to have something that she can never replace,” Lora Scantling said.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

“Those pictures I have of him healthy mean more than gold to me,” Jordan Keith said.

In this case, it’s a picture that’s taking people’s breath away.

In 2014, Lora Scantling from Yukon took a photo of three young girls embracing, and they all share the same bond.

They are all cancer free.

“I’m just this small town photographer,” Scantling said.

Now her work is shared by millions around the world, sparking a five-year tradition that’s still going strong.

“The time rolls around and people are like, ‘Are we going to get a new picture?'” Scantling said. “Where is the new picture? How come we haven’t seen the new picture?'”

With each year that passes, a new picture is taken.

For the 2019 version, there are several new faces.

“Charlie was diagnosed with cancer in 2012,” Jordan Keith said.

“Within about 8 months, we knew she was going to pass,” Taylor Loy said.

“It was very hard on all of us,” Nicki Asher said.

Mackenzie Asher is just one of the nine children in the photo who’s life was taken far too soon by cancer.

“As parents, the biggest fear we have is that they are going to be forgotten,” Asher said.

They range from this superstar in the making to super hero Charlie.

“He just radiated life,” Keith said. “He brought purpose to my life and my family’s life. We miss him everyday.”

And Ellie, who left behind her identical twin.

“They have always looked exactly alike,” Loy said. “It’s been a blessing now because we get to see what Ellie would’ve looked like everyday.”

“We always say it’s the group you don’t want to be a part of but it’s an awesome group,” Asher said.

It’s a group Scantling wanted to honor as well.

“Unfortunately, there are two sides of childhood cancer, and I think Lora captured both of those sides,” Keith said.

As this year’s photo takes flight, the local photographer remembers how it all began.

“Five years ago when I took the first picture, people were like ‘Oh no!’ But now child cancer pictures are everywhere and it should be,” Scantling said. “There needs to be more awareness.”

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