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Former patient, photographer team up for hospital dance shoot

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Photographer Jordan Matter and cancer survivor Stephanie Consiglio, 13, of Glendale, Queens, staged a "10-minute photo challenge" at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park.  Credit: Jordan Matter Photography

A 13-year-old cancer survivor and a New York City photographer made patients at Cohen Children’s Medical Center the stars of a new video that’s been viewed more than a million times.

In his “10-minute photo challenge” series, Jordan Matter photographs dancers in venues across the country. He captures them in acrobatic shots with unsuspecting passersby from each location as secondary subjects. He does it all in just 10 minutes.

Matter teamed up recently with Stephanie Consiglio, 13, a budding dancer who beat a cancerous germ cell tumor at Cohen, to make a photo challenge video at the New Hyde Park hospital.

Consiglio, of Glendale, Queens, who was diagnosed in December 2015, said she never stopped dancing through her four months of treatment.

“When I was in chemo I would dance every single day,” she said. “It kept my body moving and it was the one thing that distracted me from everything that was going on.”

Matter wanted to do something for children fighting cancer and reached out to Consiglio’s family to coordinate a photo shoot at the hospital.

Consiglio said she was excited to get involved.

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“The hospital and staff were pretty much my family while I was a patient,” she said. “So to reunite with them and have a good time, to just spread some joy and give back. I loved it.”

Matter first photographs the teen with other cancer survivors in the hospital’s lobby. They then pose outside a gift shop with a therapy dog and dash to the floor where Consiglio received chemotherapy treatment.

Matter captures the teen triumphantly leaping in the air in front of the bed where she was treated, dancing with some of the hospital staff and getting splattered with paint by patients.

With everyone running around the ward, Erin Donohue, a Cohen coordinator for clinical marketing who helped organize the photo shoot, said she apologized to a nearby doctor for the “ruckus.”

But the the excitement was welcomed, Donohue said: “The doctor said, ‘This is the good kind of noise. We like to have things the patients can get excited about.”

The video was uploaded to YouTube Feb. 22 and has since been viewed more than 1.4 million times.

“It was heart-wrenching, honestly, to go through the treatment ward and see kids hooked up to IVs, but it’s incredibly inspiring how much strength they have,” Matter said.

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