Let us introduce you to Kayleen and Adam!
We made our way west to Minot to photograph these two love birds just as the cold weather was setting in. We had so much fun spending the afternoon running around town with these two! When we schedule engagement sessions with our couples we love to include things they do together just for fun. It makes for a very natural and super fun way to help capture their unique story. These two cheer on the Blackhawks and love to go skating together. Obviously we were excited to try something new and we had so much fun slipping around the rink as Adam and Kayleen showed us how its done! I really think you’re going to love this session, the way the red jerseys pop with the sheer white ice is fantastic!
Another part of their story is Kayleen’s battle with Neurofibromatosis. It’s such a personal journey that we asked them to do a little write up so everyone can hear what living and loving with NF is truly like, and also to help raise awareness. You can’t help but be touched by their story, it’s one of the purest examples of love we’ve seen. We feel so grateful to not only have been trusted to help tell their story but just as importantly to be able to count these two as friends! So check out their write up and personal journey, then go through the blog. We can’t wait to be back in Minot for their big day in 2017!
The support ribbon captured in these photos represents a disorder called Neurofibromatosis (NF). This neurological disorder presents itself differently in each patient. Spots that look like birthmarks called café au laits can be harmless and become painfully large masses of tissue, known as fibromas. My wife has this disorder and unfortunately is very painful for her. She has a fibroma behind her ear and is pinching nerves which causes her to be in pain all of the time. This pain can be affected by foods, beverages, or certain daily activities which can change her pain levels drastically within a few minutes. This disease is difficult to manage because there is no cure. Much research has been done to find a cure but to no avail. At this point in time specialized doctors and researchers can merely try to treat the different symptoms presented in each case because they are so different in each patient. In the meantime, my wife lives a fairly normal life. She holds a part time job, is finishing up a bachelor’s degree this year, and planning for our marriage celebration that is set for her graduation weekend. -Adam
Adam did a really great job giving the cliff notes version of my story, my medical file is about as thick as all my college textbooks combined and I’m a horrible condenser so I’m glad he took on that task! I want to talk a bit on NF’s impact on my life socially, emotionally, and on our love story because ultimately that’s what this blog is about! As Adam explained NF causes a person to have many marks on their body, I’ve grown to enjoy the uniqueness of my body but there was a time I would get picked on by kids and of course it really bothered me. When I hit puberty one of my café au lait spots began growing into a fibroma and that was when I began my journey of chronic pain. As the tissue continued to grow my fears shifted from vanity to if I was going to be able to lead a normal life. In college I lost 3 entry level jobs because of failing to show up at work during my massive pain attacks. My family and I had started to talk about me dropping out of college and getting put on disability. It was at this point I thought I would never find love. After all, who in their right mind would want this to be a part of their life? As time progressed God led us to an AMAZING team of doctors at the Mayo Clinic who have completely changed my life.
Adam and I have been together since February of 2015 and were married February 2016. When Adam and I met, doctors at the Mayo clinic had finally found some medications to help regulate my pain, so at that point life was becoming a bit more manageable but I still often felt like the pain was controlling me. The likelihood of me being able to have the debulking surgery I wanted as a possibility to lessen my pain was incredibly low. I had already been turned away from some of the best surgeons in the country so it wasn’t looking favorable. It wasn’t until around the time we were talking about marriage that the surgery opened as an option for me. The thing is that this surgery was risky, I could have ended up in more pain, lost all feeling in my face and shoulders on the left side, or something we couldn’t even see. Adam married me in February, before the surgery, not knowing if my pain would ever be better. He married me not knowing if I could ever hold down a job, if I would ever finish my degree, if I could have the strength to be a mom, if we would ever to get to go on a vacation… If we would get to do anything besides just be together. These things are things that we still don’t totally know the answers to as I just finished recovering from the surgery. We have such a unique love because when we vowed “in sickness or in health”…. We meant it. Life can be so challenging with my pain. We have missed out on important events, lost money because I couldn’t work for 3 months during recovery, spend vacation days at the mayo clinic, and so much more. Adam, he doesn’t see any of that. All he sees is me, for who I am. Sometimes I wonder how he puts up with it all, and when I ask him… He is perplexed. He says “why wouldn’t I???” Oh, and did I mention during the 3 months of surgery and recovery Adam was deployed overseas?! He was so strong for the both of us and loved me unconditionally from afar. I am SO proud of him and I can’t even begin to describe what it feels like to be loved the way he loves me. He loves me in a way like my pain doesn’t even exist, but at the same time in a way where all that matters is each day is as pain free as possible for me, no matter what sacrifice that means for him. Our faith in the Lord is truly the only explanation of this kind of selfless love. Adam loves me as Christ loves me and that’s as perfect as someone can love another. Neurofibromatosis will forever have a daily impact on my life and on others, I am so excited about our love, BUT I’m also super excited about the work the Mayo Clinic is doing to help patients pursue normal lives. Every single member of my team at the Mayo Clinic has gone above and beyond what their job requires of them. I have watched them personally help 5 other friends and I can’t wait to see who they will help next. The Mayo Clinic is an incredible institution if you’re looking for somewhere to give this holiday season you can be assured that a donation to the Mayo Clinic will absolutely change lives. Since surgery I have had more good days then bad for the first time in almost a decade, let’s all work to more good days then bad for everyone. -Kayleen
Minot Wedding Photographer: Manstrom Photography