The Knoefel Family

I'm sharing photos of a very special family today - meet Blake, Katie and their precious one-year-old son, Liam. I'm asking for you to join me in prayer as this beautiful mama undergoes surgery today...

I grew up with Katie - I have such fun memories of middle school - service projects through church and developing crushes on the same boys - any guesses, Katie? 

Back in November, Katie was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer) of the tongue. The diagnosis came as a huge shock because she is so young and has none of the risk factors typically associated with the disease. In December, Katie had surgery to remove the tumor on the tongue and the lymph nodes on the left side of the neck. They thought and hoped that she was all clear. Unfortunately, another surgery was necessary in April to address cancerous spots on the right side. Again, good news after surgery and we thought Katie was in the clear. But the roller coaster continues...about a week after the second surgery, Katie noticed a spot on the left side near the original tumor site. A biopsy confirmed - cancer. The thought is that the first surgery did not remove all the cancer on the left side. Today, Katie will undergo yet another surgery. She could also be looking ahead at radiation and/or chemotherapy. The surgery will be more invasive. To put it simply, they will need to do some reconstructive surgery due to the amount of the tongue that is removed. They will use some skin from her forearm to do a graft which, with some therapy, should give her the best shot at normal speech and swallowing function. 

Lord, I ask you to cover Katie in prayer today. Give her peace that transcends all understanding. Calm any nerves or anxious thoughts. Let her feel your loving arms of comfort. Be with the nurses and doctors - give them clarity of mind and precision of hands. Be with Blake and extended family as they wait for news. Be with Katie when she wakes up. We pray for a swift recovery - that she be reunited with her family and her own bed quickly. And Father, you are a healer. I ask specifically for you to remove all cancer from Katie's body. You knit Katie together in her mother's womb. You have every hair on her head counted. We know that you can stop evil cells from multiplying in her body - that you can remove cancerous tumors altogether. We trust you to care for Katie. 

I am amazed at Katie's faith and sense of humor through it all. This girl has wit! I love how she created a group on facebook for updates - it's appropriately named "Cancer is dumb. God is faithful."

I just loved photographing Katie's beautiful family. Usually, I have to work a bit to get little ones to warm up to me and give big, authentic smiles. Not the case with sweet Liam. This kid DID NOT STOP SMILING! When I was culling through hundreds of photos of our session, I doubt there was one photo of him NOT smiling. That smile is contagious. What a blessing to see Katie thrive as a mother. 

I will leave you with these words from Katie: 

I believe in a God of miracles. And one of his greatest miracles in my life to this point is putting me in relationships with each and every one of you and with the doctors and nurses on our team. 
So to all of you who travel this road with us, Christians and non-Christians alike...
I am eternally grateful to you. Thank you for allowing me to share this journey with you through the lens of faith by which I see it. And even more so, thank you for loving me in a myriad of ways. Please don't ever stop. Your love is what continually carries us along this road.