Photo project

Dasha: A Story of One Hope

Photographer Yuliya Skorobogatova wanted to do a story with a happy ending, so she captured the life of two-year-old Dasha, who had been diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, no miracle happened.
Yuliya Skorobogatova Age 34

Russian photographer. Born and lives in Moscow. Studied photojournalism in Moscow State University. Took Sergey Maximishin’s course Photographer as a Storyteller at the School of Visual Arts. Published her works in Stern, The Huffington Post, Daily Mail, Metro, Cosmopolitan. Member of the Russian Union of Art Photographers.

— Considering a topic for a future project, a photographer usually chooses something that is close and important to them personally. I was diagnosed with cancer almost nine years ago. In 2014, I was taking photos of kids with cancer for one foundation, this is how I came up with the idea for the shoot. I wanted to do a story with a happy ending.

I met Katia in one of the oncological centers. Her two-year-old daughter Dasha had cancer. When I first met Dasha, she was wearing one of her best outfits. When she saw a camera she produced a fake smile. It was hard to find common ground with Dasha. It seems she was waiting for me to cause her pain. At first, she stayed away from me and constantly clinged to her mother. I tried not to press her, and with time she got used to me. Also, she started feeling better despite going through another round of chemo, after which she had surgery to remove the primary tumor scheduled.

Based on observations and tests, the doctors were optimistic. But during the surgery they realized they would not be able to save Dasha. All her internal organs were covered with small metastases which were impossible to remove. Her diagnosis was a death sentence, and they told her mother: “There is no one who can help your girl.”

Katia told her daugher the surgery went well and she would be okay. Two years ago, on March 15, 2014 Dasha left us. Several days after, she was buried near her grandfather.

I wanted to do a story with a happy ending.

Through all this time, I wanted to do at least something to support Katia. When children die, what their parents lack most is simple human contact, moral support.

Dasha was a terrific child, and a real fighter. I am very sorry that the miracle didn’t happen. Human life is very fragile, we can plan anything we like, but it doesn’t mean that our plans will come to life. The most important thing we have is our family, our parents and children. It is important not to lose track of this. This series is very important for me, as I realized I wanted to have a second child after I spent time with Katia and Dasha.

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