a story of hope~infertility, cancer & how god is bigger

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a few summers ago, standing in line at the iconic “frost bites” in seaside, i met karen. it was late in the evening on our last night vacationing as a family. honestly i’ll never forget our meeting.  karen walked over & introduced herself..she was radiant and beautiful. she told me she had been a blog reader for a while & had wanted to inquire about a family session while at the beach. remember, this is our last night there & i believe theirs as well. she had wanted to book a beach session knowing we’d be there at the same time but her hubby thought that might be sorta weird to hire a stranger known only through social media. she pulls out her phone and shows me her gorgeous children-two boys, two girls, three of whom are triplets. i’m dying. karen! i don’t always know my clients ahead of time! anyways…we enjoyed laughing and wishing each other a safe drive home. them to texas, us to georgia.

a year ago i received a Facebook message from karen ~

Hi Paige!
I met you in Seaside summer before last. You were in the snow cone line, & I was so excited to recognize you because I have loved your blog for years!
I know this is random, but by chance are you going to be at the beach July 11-18? And, if so would you be interested in photographing our family? I would like to do beach pics, & before I started looking for a photographer, I thought I would check with you first! I admire your pictures so much!
Also, I wanted to let you know how much your walk through cancer & fear has ministered to me. I was continually praying for Dan & your family this past fall. When you shared on the blog about the fear & anxiety, it really spoke to my heart.

What I did not know, was that God was using that to prepare my heart for what was to come…

“I will praise you forever for what you have done; In your name I will hope for your name is good.” Psalm 52:9

Will was conceived from an embryo left over from IVF with our triplets . We prayed for over 10 years for direction and guidance regarding our embryos. We never had anything but uncertainty and confusion. Two years ago, God made it clear to us that it was time to give them a chance at life. We were told that there was only a 5-10% chance that they would result in a pregnancy. We had such a sweet peace as we knew God had directed us and we trusted His plan completely. We were shocked and excited when I became pregnant!

During the c-section, my ob noticed my normal looking appendix and felt it. He asked Jeff, my husband who is an anesthesiologist, to take a look at the appendix because he felt something hard in it. Jeff told him to go ahead and remove it. 99% of the time it ends up being nothing, But, the pathology came back as cancer just hours before I was to be discharged from the hospital.

My OB had not removed an appendix in over 30 years, and he has since told me he can see the hand of God over everything that happened that day in the delivery room. Because the tumor was large and had microscopically penetrated the wall of the appendix, I had the right side of my colon and part of my small intestine removed 6 weeks later. During the colon surgery, cancer was also found in the lymph nodes. This type of cancer is not responsive to chemo or radiation, surgery is the only treatment. It is often called a silent killer because it is usually not found until it is too late.

In God’s perfect time, 13 years and 1 day after he was frozen, Will was born to reveal the cancer growing inside of me.

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.” Zephaniah 3:17

Will was born November 7th, and I was diagnosed with cancer November 11th. The entire Christmas season was full of tests, scans, doctors appointments, surgery, as well as caring for a newborn . . . I was able to ponder that similarly as Jesus was born to save His mother, Will was born to save me.
We chose to call him Will because one of the verses I clung to – “In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me” Psalm 86:7. I have to say I had never felt God nearer or more sure of His love and provision for me and our family. God can truly bring something beautiful out of our biggest trials.

Our continual prayer is that the cancer does not return. Because of lymph node involvement, I will be scanned and tested every 6 months for the next 10 years. We praise God that the first round of scans and tests in June were all clear!

well let me tell you this. we weren’t going to be vacationing this year but i was determined to move mountains to get back down to seaside & capture this beautiful mama & her family.  the bookends & i loaded up, headed down to the gulf coast and stayed a couple nights with our favorite gulf coast resident .

meeting karen again, a few summers later was…well i’m not even sure how to describe it. the night we met at rosemary beach it was literally a zoo over there. family night with festival extravaganzas for the kids. in july. you can imagine. i was waiting in the midst of all that craziness when this stunning family of ( now ) 7 walked up. pastel colors &  breathtaking red-haired beautiful children…and karen with that magnetic radiant smile. she honestly radiates the love of christ. she does. i truly felt the lord was with us down that evening along the shore. celebrating His provision and faithfulness and celebrating life!!

enjoy some captures of this very special family and a mama whose love for them will surely touch your heart. (oh & hey dad, thanks for letting your wifey hire a stranger…perhaps we can do it again summer 2016. wink. i’ll move another mountain. i promise.)

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November 3, 2015 - 8:44 am

Ruth Toyama - Wow! Wow! Wow! I love this story and the pictures that you took. Paige, you always amaze me with your creative talents in telling a story with words and pictures. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Ruth

November 3, 2015 - 10:29 am

pam - So beautiful, all of it! The story, the family, the photos. God is so good and His miracles are just too much!

November 3, 2015 - 10:34 am

Lisa Mothersead - Beach photos…beautiful. My favorite – her reaching up to kiss her husband. Sweet.

November 3, 2015 - 6:06 pm

Emily - This made me cry! He’s a Good, Good Father … (I’m a little obsessed with that Chris Tomlin song right now!:)) Beautiful story of His faithfulness and their faith!

November 3, 2015 - 7:43 pm

Lisa Mothersead - These are beautiful stories to hear but for those who had different outcomes – God was there with them, too.

November 3, 2015 - 9:18 pm

Corey - God is Good!! All the Time!! Love this story!!

November 3, 2015 - 11:46 pm

Heidi Ferguson - Oh dear! This story! This truth! I loved everything about this! The seemingly random meeting. The miracle of life GIVING the miracle of life. Evidence of what happens when we obey Him! Love!

November 9, 2015 - 8:52 pm

Kelly Miller - Amazing story, and beautiful pictures! God is so good!