Fighting Chance

Janet Kwiatkowski, MD
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Division of Oncology
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Author: Harry Connolly
Publisher: Woodholme House Publishers
Price: $27.95 US
ISBN: 0-9656342-5-6
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Harry Connolly is a professional photographer who lives with his family in Baltimore, Maryland. This is his second book. Over a three-year period, he took more than 15,000 photographs of children with cancer, their families, doctors, and caregivers and he used almost 200 of these images in this photo-documentary, along with words from the patients, families, and doctors.

This photo-documentary follows the course of three children who have just been diagnosed with cancer. Two have leukemia: One is a two and one-half year boy and the other is a nine-year old girl. The third child is a sixteen-year old boy with T cell lymphoma. The book shows the children in the hospital and clinic receiving treatment, including injections, IVs, and spinal taps. It shows parents and caregivers providing distractions such as bubble-blowing and hugs to help the children endure the therapy. The pictures capture some of the fear, pain, and sadness that accompanies the diagnosis of cancer and its treatment, but they also show the special bonds that form between the patients, parents, and caregivers. It also shows times of happiness and celebration when achieving goals.

The book also shows images of the children outside of the hospital, in school, at home, at the carnival, at the prom, and at graduation. There are images of the children playing, riding their bikes, swimming, dancing, and dressing up for Halloween. In this way, the book demonstrates a very important aspect of the care of children with cancer, maintaining normalcy and letting kids just be kids.

"Fighting Chance", therefore, provides a glimpse into the lives of children with cancer and their families and caregivers, both inside and outside of the hospital. While it does not give in-depth information for families whose children are afflicted with this disease, it does show touching photographs of some of the good times and bad times that are inevitable with the diagnosis of cancer. It leaves one with a sense of hope, both for the possibility of cure as well as for the chance of some normalcy during an otherwise difficult time.

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