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Healing power of photography at Indianapolis-based children's hospital

Local photographer marks a moment of time in child's cancer journey
Kiara Dilger
Posted at 8:08 PM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-14 20:08:43-04

INDIANAPOLIS – Photographs mark a moment in time. For the Dilger family, the moment comes as their youngest, Kiara, faces a cancer diagnosis. The three-year-old and her mom came to Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital from just outside of Evansville – a three-hour drive.

“We just found out – I got her diagnosis yesterday, that she has B-Cell ALL [Acute lymphoblastic Leukemia]. I think that's what it's called,” Janet Dilger, Kiara’s mom, said. She continued, “[It’s] Leukemia. She has leukemia. She will start her treatment tomorrow.”

On Wednesday in the middle of appointments, the two came down to the Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases. It’s where professional photographer, Mark Watson, set up his studio Wednesday.

“Here in Indianapolis, we have photographed hundreds, hundreds of families,” Watson said.

These photos are a start to a new journey for the Dilger family.

“This is an opportunity [that’s] kind of fun with her and I thought it'd be neat to mark a milestone in our journey,” Dilger said.

The nonprofit called “Flashes of Hope” marks a moment in time during a child’s cancer diagnosis through photographs. Nationally, the organization has done nearly 90,000.

“We wish we didn't have to do it at all. We wished children didn't have cancer. But the fact is they do, so we want to just keep coming back over and over and over,” Watson said.

Before sitting down for photos, the families participating at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital are pampered with hair and makeup. Once the session is wrapped up, all of the photos are given to them for free. For patients who are isolated to their rooms, the team gowns up and heads to them.

“Our goal, honestly, is to keep photographing until every child is cured,” Watson said.

It is a flash of hope — of strength — of love — of beauty. A time to celebrate the bravery through a cancer journey the Dilgers and so many others have walked.

“We have been really, really blessed. Right now, I just thought know we know God has everything set up for us,” Dilger said.