The Healing Power of Photography at Indianapolis Children’s Hospital

INDIANAPOLIS – The 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 girl and her mother came to Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital just outside 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,” said Janet Dilger, Kiara’s mother. She continued, “[It’s] Leukemia. She has leukemia. She will start her treatment tomorrow.

On Wednesday, in the middle of appointments, the two went down to the Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases. This is where professional photographer Mark Watson set up his studio on Wednesday.

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

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

“It’s an opportunity [that’s] I had a lot of fun with it and thought it would be nice to mark a milestone on our journey,” Dilger said.

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

“We would have liked not to have to do it at all. We would have liked the children not to have had cancer. But the thing is, they do, so we want to keep coming back again and again and again,” Watson said.

Before sitting down to take pictures, families attending Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital get pampered with hair and makeup. Once the session is over, all the photos are given to them free of charge. For patients isolated in their rooms, the team gets dressed and goes to them.

“Honestly, our goal is to continue photographing until every child is cured,” Watson said.

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

“We were really, really blessed. Right now I just thought I knew that we know God has everything in place for us,” Dilger said.

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