A Strange Gift...The Story Of Paige Armstrong

by

Charles White

 

 

 

 

 

Triumph. For most of us that means having just enough milk left in the jug for one more glass, grabbing the last parking space or finding your lost car keys under the couch. Triumph, for most of us, is found in little things - but not for Christian recording artist Paige Armstrong.

 

When Paige was only 10, she complained of pain in her right leg just below her knee. The middle child of a family of five, Paige and her family never dreamed of the journey that this pain would lead them. As Paige underwent testing, it soon became apparent that the pain wasn’t due to a pulled muscle or strained ligament. Instead, it was from cancer.

 

Paige was diagnosed with a very rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. Only about 250 cases are reported each year in the US and the survival rates are very high. However, this didn’t make it any easier. Paige was forced to undergo chemotherapy, a long hospital stay and a painful surgery, which Paige explained in a recent post on JFH Blog.

 

“…in addition to toxic chemotherapies, I had to have five inches of my leg bone replaced with a cadaver bone that was set in place with a metal plate and seven screws. As if I wasn't already bionic enough, I also got a knee replacement a few years later. Needless to say, I've got a pretty hefty scar to show for it!”

 

The scars weren’t just physical for Paige. Since the age of 4, Paige began performing in local productions in her hometown near Philadelphia and quickly graduated to local commercials. Soon, she was traveling to New York to do commercial work on a bigger scale. However, cancer threatened to take that all away. “Any invincible feeling I had about myself was shattered when I was diagnosed with cancer,” Paige explained. “Everything was stripped away. I questioned. I thought God was punishing me and it was definitely a growing experience for my family, too.”

 

Despite all of the emotional and physical scars that came from this ordeal, Paige continued to push forward. It would have been so easy for Paige to crawl up in a corner and give up, but she didn’t. Instead, she triumphed and it was her family that gave her the courage and strength to keep going.


”I’m part of a family of seven - 2 older brothers and two older sisters. They were all wonderful to me and my parents have been so supportive. They were right there by my side through everything. That has meant so much to me and really shaped who I’ve become.”

 

However, Paige also admits that it wasn’t just her family that helped her to overcome cancer.  It was her relationship with God that helped her to heal.

 

“God was the only thing I had left when I was in the midst of my chemo and surgery. My parents could love me and my doctors could work on me, but they couldn’t heal me, they couldn’t save me and that is when God was all that I had. I developed a very intimate relationship with God because it was just me and Him and all I could do was hang on to Him.”

 

Faced with a very serious illness and a difficult struggle, Paige eventually realized that she had actually been given a strange gift. Not many of us would ever view cancer as a gift, but this is exactly how Paige sees it.

 

“Even if I could go back and take away having cancer, even though it was an awful experience and I still deal with it through different things, I wouldn’t change having it because God has unleashed so many blessing and brought about my purpose. Now I know what I am supposed to do with my life and I am so passionate about it. Whoever thought so many good things could come from something so horrible.”

 

God opened many doors for Paige. During the darkest part of her illness, Paige was invited to submit a request to the Make-A-Wish foundation. She was asked to record two songs for an album and began making appearances at corporate events where Make-A-Wish was supported. In 2005, Paige was given an amazing opportunity to record several Christmas songs for a joint venture between the Make-A-Wish foundation and Bath & Body Works, which she promoted on an appearance on NBC’s Today Show.

 

However, that is not the end of the story of this extremely talented young woman. On October 6th, 2009, Paige will release her first album entitled, “Wake Up”. This amazing album combines hard hitting rock and a strong emo sound woven together with powerful lyrics and incredible vocals. However, central to this album is the struggle to get up and never give up.

 

“Wake Up. It really encapsulates the message. We’re all going through this apathetic disease. Sometimes we struggle to care and we struggle to not be apathetic about certain issues around us because we are so caught up in our own lives. We forget that the world needs us to care.”

 

“We all go through things. Whether it is cancer or self-image problems or death of a loved one, we all go through things that are like cancer was for me. If we hang on and if we trust, He will work it out for good. He will turn it around for something absolutely amazing somehow in your life.”

 

We all go through pretty tough times, but it is what we do in the midst of these challenges that make us who we are. It is so tempting to take the easy way out, but, to paraphrase the great poet, Robert Frost, Paige Armstrong decided that the easy path wasn’t the way for her. She took the difficult road of perseverance and that has made all the difference in her life. She has triumphed, by the help and grace of God and this is something that she has never forgotten. Her success is His success. As the famous warrior-monks of the Middle Ages, the Knights Templar, proclaimed, “Not to us, Lord, no not to us but to You be all the glory.”

 

All photos courtesy of Paige Armstrong