Photo series captures struggles, triumphs of children's hospital patients

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for a handful of families at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital, they're worth so much more.

A new program at the facility helps parents to document their family's journey, with all the daily triumphs and struggles along the way.

It's called "Perspectives," and family members of sick children say it's helped immensely in dealing with what can often seem like a lonely situation.

"When I see this, it makes me go back to that moment and brings back the memories," Katy Augusta said, looking at a picture of her 14-year-old daughter, Nathalia Hawley. She's on her third round of chemo for the bone cancer she was diagnosed with a year and a half ago, with Katy taking plenty of pictures during that time period as a way to tell her story without words.

"It wasn't scary. It wasn't what people assumed hospital life is like," Augusta said. "We had bad days but we also had really good days."

As a part of the program, a volunteer photographer teaches parents the basics of photography and then lets them use a handful of professional cameras at the hospital to capture images of what their children are going through.

"It's hard to forget the really bad days because those days stick with us, but our families have a lot of joy as well," Child Life Specialist Ashley Wunderlich said. "It's really important to capture those moments as well. Those are easy to forget."

This year, eight families took more than 14,000 photos and shared many of the images with family and friends hoping maybe they'll catch a glimpse of life's beauty and inspire a belief that better days are ahead.

"Yes, some of them are hard to see, but there is still hope," Augusta said. "If you look closely."

This is "Perspectives'" second year at the Masonic Children's hospital.

87 pictures are on display at the hospital through Tuesday for families, doctors and caregivers, though the families get to keep them for the rest of their lives.