In 2010, Autumn started a photography project for cancer patients, which turned into a book, called Facing Hope: The Cancer Project.  The book was comprised of 15 participants from the Pittsburgh area, who each wrote a narrative for their chapter of the book in first person. Each story is different, inspiring, and full of hope. You can purchase it in the Blurb Bookstore


We all have to face our fears.   Then, we must face hope.

As a professional photographer, I stand facing many subjects that inspire me and provide opportunities for amazing photographs. From beautiful snow-covered mountains reflected in the Arctic Sea to the quiet sands of the Sahara glowing in soft morning light, I have been very fortunate to photograph some amazing places throughout the world. I am also blessed with a career that allows me to document truly joyous moments of life. I spend most days working with newborns only a few days old, young children full of curiosity and wonder, and soulmates celebrating their commitment to spend the rest of their life together.
But when I stood behind the camera to face the subjects you will see in this book, I was deeply moved in a way that I had yet to experience before as a photographer. I was facing people battling for their lives, diagnosed with cancer yet choosing to live with optimism and courage; unwilling to let their circumstances pull them down. For the first time, I was facing hope.

-Autumn Stankay

View a gallery of these images here and below

Sample excerpts from the Facing Hope book


I am a 26 year old female currently battling ALL (Acute Lymphomic Leukemia) for the third time in my life. After each battle I had thought I won, five to six years passed of healthy living and freedom which allowed me to grow as a person in every way possible. I am looking forward to ending this battle once and for all.


It was a beautiful October evening as our Kiski Volleyball team headed to Franklin Regional for our last game of the season. My cell phone rang and it was my doctor with news that would change my life. 


Just when my husband and I thought we would be changing our lives by beginning to have children, we were rudely awakened. A pain that I had mentioned to my doctor was ignored. I decided to get a second opinion, but was ignored again. The second doctor did not even do an exam when I told her about the pain that I was having and that the reason I switched doctors was because the last doctor did not address my concern. 

Although I’ve been an outgoing person all my life, the initial thought of sharing my personal cancer experience with strangers was a little intimidating. However, there is a certain nervous excitement that comes before the moment of overcoming a challenge. I’ve fed off that feeling since I was a little girl. Head-on confrontations have been my trademark for better or worse. Cancer has been no exception.

My journey through life took a major detour on August 18, 2010. I got the call from my gynecologist that my tests came back positive for breast cancer. When I told my husband Doug that afternoon, he said, “We'll fight this together.” I had a camping trip planned for the weekend with one of my horses and I was to leave the next day. He asked me if I was still going.
“Yes,” I said, “Why wouldn't I?”