Behind The Photos: God's Warrior by Sonya Paclob

“With great power, comes great responsibility.”

This is what Uncle Ben said in the Spiderman movie.

The quote makes me think of my **Auntie Elle, who passed away from cancer last year.


In 2011, my auntie was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. I was at school at the time studying photojournalism. A newbie storyteller – I knew it was my responsibility to take photos of her.

But I didn’t realize how much of a struggle it would be to share these photos after I was done. It’s been almost a year since she has been gone.

My auntie asked me one thing after I took pictures of her, “please share this with my sisters.”

I already knew what she had in mind. With any family, there is always disagreements and fighting.

My auntie grew to love a different practice of worship. Which made many family members uncomfortable from my observation over the years.

I don't know how much of a family struggle she had. I believe she wanted her sisters to truly understand her. I probably will never know the truth.


Her request for me to share her story grew larger in time. I really abounded my responsibility. I felt guilty and I was struggling on how to approach her story.

It could be perfection. It could because I was emotional. 

This year is a New Year and I’m out to complete my mission.

The final push came from my aunt’s pastor who contacted me a few days ago. He wanted a print of her flagging at church. The one action she was known by her church members.


He said the photo gives him hope. He also said, “you can feel the emotion that resonates from it.”

I cried when he said this to me. Even though Auntie is gone; I can hear her through his voice.

I honestly miss her calling me and blessing me over the phone. After that she would sing her heart out.

Now, she is a frozen memory in my photo collection.

View the God's Warrior photo story. 

UPDATE Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014

As an added bonus: I am running the Scope It Out 5K in D.C. in March. The run is a colon cancer awareness in memory of my Aunt. 

What is colon caner?  

"Colon cancer refers to the condition where cells of the large intestine multiply uncontrollably. The disease causes problems because tumors interfere with the normal function of the colon. In advanced cases, the disease spreads (metastasizes) beyond the colon and affects the function of other organs.

Unfortunately colon cancer is not a rare disease in the United States. In fact, 1 in 19 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer in their lifetimes. However, if the disease is caught early, about 90% of cases are curable. "

- Source:

*Footnote: Auntie is the same as aunt in American culture. Auntie is usually used in the Filipino culture which means out of respect. Someone can be auntie if closely related and not always by blood.  The word uncle is the same.