Portraits of Cancer

Photography copyright Amy (Farnan) Green C’85

Flashes of Hope’s Amy (Farnan) Green C’85 helps children with life-threatening diseases feel better about their changing appearance by celebrating it.

Six years ago, Amy Green was a photographer running a successful children’s portrait business in Atlanta when a call for support for a local family whose son, a 2-year-old with neuroblastoma, caught her attention. “I wrote a note to the mom, telling her that I wanted to offer her a family portrait,” says Green. Incredibly touched, she told Green: “I have a whole freezer full of casseroles, but no one has offered to do this for me.”

Green soon realized that she had tapped into a deep need and started shifting her work toward taking portraits for families whose children have life-threatening illnesses. After hearing about Flashes of Hope, a Cleveland-based nonprofit spearheading a similar pro bono effort, she opened an Atlanta chapter for the group in 2005 and grew it into the nation’s largest. Not long after, she relocated to Cleveland due to her husband’s job transfer—a stroke of fate, as she sees it, that allowed her to get more involved at the organization’s headquarters.

As volunteer director of photographer relations, Green, who had been vice president of corporate lending at Wachovia in Atlanta before becoming mom to two boys, now recruits and schedules photographers for some 30 Flashes of Hope chapters nationwide. She estimates that the organization will take more than 3,000 portraits this year.

She has a simple reason for doing what can be heartbreaking work: “I really wanted to give back in some meaningful way,” says Green, who believes she’s shot about 200 portraits herself. “The portraits are a treasure for the families who lose a child. And for those [children] who survive, they see the beauty and strength they had in that time of their lives.”

Editor’s Note: Amy Green C’85 has recently taken a leave of absence from her volunteer work at Flashes of Hope during her treatment for stage IV breast cancer. You may send Amy notes of encouragement at www.caringbridge.org/visit/teamgreen.

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