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Beyond the diagnosis: New campaign highlights the humanity of cancer patients

Posted at 6:24 PM, Jun 19, 2024

GREAT FALLS — While driving along 10th Avenue South in Great Falls, you may have seen a billboard for the Great Falls Clinic Cancer Center featuring a patient named Sharon adorned with an ornate crown of flowers after losing her hair following chemotherapy treatments.

But it’s not just a marketing campaign. It’s a passion project developed by photographer Matt Ehnes intended to highlight the humanity of patients and allow them to share their unique stories. It’s called “Beyond the Diagnosis”.


Ehnes came up with the concept years ago, and partnered with the Great Falls Clinic Hospital to bring it to life.

“We’re all affected by cancer whether it’s a friend, family member or loved one,” Ehnes said. “So often in health care everything becomes so clinical. It becomes, diagnosis, treatment, repeat. But these are humans, right? They’re real people. And I think the vulnerability they have is often overlooked.”

When the patients arrive for their photo shoot, Ehnes takes the time to get to know them and learn their stories.

“Learning about where they came from and what their biggest fears are and their biggest aspirations in life if pretty special to capture,” Ehnes said.

The photographs capture the subjects modeling customized floral pieces reflecting a physical impact from their cancer treatments.

Sharon can be seen sporting an intricately placed headdress made up of a rainbow of flowers, while Ann clutches a blooming cape across her chest and shoulder.

At a Tuesday night event at the Great Falls Clinic, Ehnes revealed images from his photo shoot with local artist Brian Morger, a survivor of prostate and skin cancer whose family has been greatly affected by the disease.

“I am so honored that I was asked to take part in this project,” Morger said. “And Matt brought me out of my comfort zone and even got me to wear this incredible floral chest piece which is an artwork in itself...even got me to take my shirt off and it was a lot of fun.”

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Brian Morger (center) poses with his photo for the "Beyond the Diagnosis" campaign.

The images will be displayed in the Great Falls Clinic Cancer Center, including a the recently announced expansion to its infusion center and more patients will be featured in the future.

“I think the purpose is really to highlight that our patients are really so much more than just their diagnosis. We don't think of our patients as, quote unquote, cancer patients,” said oncologist Jessica Kaae. “They really are people who have a family and hopes and dreams and we want to really honor their journey throughout their cancer treatment.”

“Ultimately the goal is to get them to forget about the rigors of treatment in that moment, in that hour during the shoot, and just feel like a million bucks. And that's how it's been for each of these individuals,” Ehnes said. ”I think that the stories need to be heard and if we can do that through imagery and through visual components, then that’s the goal.”

For more information about the campaign, click here.


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