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Meet ‘Mr. Smile’, the Vietnamese photographer bringing hope to cancer patients

Sunday, May 26, 2019, 07:35 GMT+7
Meet ‘Mr. Smile’, the Vietnamese photographer bringing hope to cancer patients
Dang Huu Hung poses for a photo with a cancer patient next to his works. Photo: NVCC / Tuoi Tre

A photographer in central Vietnam has spent the past five years using his camera to capture happy smiles shining through the darkness of cancer.

Dang Huu Hung, a 63-year-old from Da Nang City, was into photography when he was 12.

The man spent decades behind the lens, but it wasn’t until a heart attack, a series of road accidents, and his wife’s cancer diagnosis that he began to revaluate how he could use his experience as a photographer to help those around him.

While caring for his wife in the hospital, Hung was overwhelmed by the desperation of the patients and their families he was surrounded by.

“I’ll never forget the hopelessness I saw in their eyes each time we spoke,” he said.

That was when Hung decided to involved himself in the “Mot Buc Tranh – Nhieu Hy Vong” (A Photo Can Raise Hopes) photo project – an initiative meant to organize events and raise awareness for local cancer patients, as well as create opportunities for young people to volunteer to help people with illnesses.

Hung’s own contribution to the project has been snapping hundreds of photos of cancer patients. 

These photos, each showing a rare smile or moment of happiness, now hang on hospital walls throughout Vietnam, serving as inspiration to others to remain optimistic in the face of the brutal disease.

A cancer patient smiles. Photo: Dang Huu Hung
A cancer patient smiles while holding a lantern. Photo: Dang Huu Hung

Elderly men singing and swaying to music and women who’ve gone bald from chemotherapy laughing are just a few of the ways Hung’s work serves as a reminder to smile in even the darkest of times.

Though each photo shows a different aspect of life in a hospital, all depict a feeling of hope and optimism Hung hopes to spread through cancer wards across the country.

“The prettiest smile is the one that comes from a heart full of love and hope,” he explained.

Hung also explained that his motivation doesn’t only come from the subjects of his photos, but also their families, who have the final smiles of their loved ones to hold on to forever.

“I just want to dedicate something to this world,” Hung said with determination.

Tran Minh Toai, a member of “Mot Buc Tranh – Nhieu Hy Vong”, said that their project has received praise and financial support from philanthropists, as well as income from Hung’s work, all of which is used to sponsor cancer patients at the Da Nang Oncology Hospital.

“Hung is the oldest member of our group, but he has the heart full of energy and passion that’s incomparable,” said Toai.

A child suffering from cancer shares his love. Photo: Dang Huu Hung
A child suffering from cancer shares his love. Photo: Dang Huu Hung
A patient sways to music. Photo: Dang Huu Hung
A patient sways to music. Photo: Dang Huu Hung
A cancer patient smiles. Photo: Dang Huu Hung
A cancer patient smiles. Photo: Dang Huu Hung
A group of cancer patients laughing over snacks and great conversation. Photo: Dang Huu Hung
A group of cancer patients laughing over snacks and great conversation. Photo: Dang Huu Hung
Cancer patients wear wigs and pose with ao dai. Photo: Dang Huu Hung
Cancer patients wear wigs and pose with ao dai. Photo: Dang Huu Hung

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