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Little Girls Battling Cancer Photo Inspire Strength

Each year in the U.S., about 13,400 children under the age of 19 are diagnosed with a form of cancer, according to the American Childhood Cancer Organization. And while those numbers are staggering enough on their own, sometimes one simple photo speaks even louder than statistics like in the case of this particular image, by Oklahoma photographer Lora Scantling, thats currently yanking on the heartstrings of thousands of Facebook users. In it are three little girls, ages 3, 4, and 6, mostly bald from chemo and embracing each other with their eyes closed, in a pose that emanates a warmth and depth beyond their collective years. A caption notes, Sometimes strength comes in knowing you are not alone.

I thought of this project just because I wanted to do something that would bring out emotion and touch peoples hearts, Scantling tells Yahoo Shine through a message on Facebook where her photo of the three girls has been liked nearly 4,000 times since being posted on April 5. My stepdad is currently battling stage-four lung cancer, and a good friend lost her 1-year-old to leukemia and so its just something I am passionate about. I hoped it would be inspirational and help raise awareness.

Riley, on the left, is 3 years old, and just beat a form of stage-five kidney cancer, according to Scantling. Rheann, in the middle, is 6, and has been battling brain cancer for a year and a half, while 4-year-old Ainsley is in remission from leukemia. Another photo in the series features Ainsley lovingly touching Rheanns head.

Scantling, whose Scantling Photography studio is in Bethany, Oklahoma, teamed up with her studio partner, Christy Goodger of Goodger Photography, to create the poignant images after finding the girls through Facebook.  "I think it can be a lonely disease, Goodger said. You sit in the hospital a lot. Its something the girls and their families know all too well. "From May until January, that's where we lived was the hospital," Rylie's mom, Bridget Hughey, said.

The girls had not met prior to this before, yet they bonded the instant they saw each other and it was like they knew they had a common bond, says Scantling of the studio shoot, which had the girls looking vintage-lovely, complete with flapper-style headbands and apparel from local clothing boutiques. They were glued to each other the whole session! And, of course, the parents exchanged numbers and plan on staying in touch.

Facebook users have been overwhelmed by the emotional images. I think your photo of those 3 girls is amazing!!! Thank you for spot lighting childhood cancer in a beautiful thoughtful way! wrote a representative of Autism Speaks. Another woman wrote, This left me wanting to hug and kiss each one of these precious angels. The photos are beautifully done.