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(1982, Richmond, VA) Doug Barrett (400 North Creative) is an internationally-recognized photographer and cinematographer based in Kansas covering the Midwest. He works to disrupt narratives that perpetuate inequality and to lift underrepresented voices across race, gender, and ability. The perspectives and experiences of these communities shape a more inclusive world.  

Doug’s work is in the permanent collections of the Ulrich Museum, Mulvane Museum, and the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art. His editorial clients include Bloomberg News, TIME MagazineNational Geographic, Politico, The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, The Washington Post, Reuters, Capital B News, The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, The Chronicle, CNN, and others.  

“Riley’s Cancel Journey”

A cancer diagnosis impacts the entire family. Seven-year-old Riley Simmons faced Wilms Tumor, a rare form of kidney cancer. Photographer Doug Barrett documented the emotions — loss, fear, and confusion — that Riley and her family experienced as they began their courageous battle for survival. 

Riley’s parents, Robert and Kalecia, had no initial indications of her illness. Early medical scans suggested kidney stones, but Kalecia’s intuition pushed for further investigation, leading to an unexpected diagnosis. 

Robert, who is still on active duty in the military, and Kalecia, a veteran, leveraged their training, community support, and prayers to navigate the challenging path ahead. Kalecia devoted many late hours to caring for Riley and her six other children. The family faced numerous appointments and hurdles throughout Riley’s treatment. Each week, either parent would travel 1.5 hours to Kansas City, ensuring Riley received her chemotherapy at Mercy’sChildren’s Hospital or radiation at Kansas University’s Cancer Treatment Center. 

This journey lasted two years. Following successful surgery at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Riley is now living a healthy, cancer-free life. 

Watching the pure grit of a 7-year-old girl brighten lives and bring people together was monumental.

Interview

What was your inspiration, process, and research?

At the time I started the project, my daughter was young, so I empathized and knew as a parent that both Robert, being an active duty solider, and Kalecia, a combat veteran of Iraq, had their hands full with their six other children. By telling their story, I felt I was doing my part to contribute in the best way I knew how. Watching the pure grit of a 7-year-old girl brighten lives and bringing people together was monumental. 

What do you hope to achieve with this project?  

I hope to give the family some positive exposure. I also hope that each person stops and thinks before judging others, as you never know what someone else is going through.