Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Decision

As many of you already know, I have been faced with a decision. A scary, gut-wrenching, life altering decision. Let us recap: 40-40-20. Those are my statistics. I can either have surgery and, A) have a 40% chance of a successful tumor removal and valve replacement, B) a 40% chance of the surgery being deemed inoperable, or C) a 20% chance of a permanent colostomy bag, or death. OR I decide against the surgery, and walk away from it all and live my life to the absolute fullest until I can no longer do so, which I have been told may be around five years or so. That is the decision that I have been faced with. Scary, huh? Over the past six weeks, I have spent a large amount of time in a little place I like to call, "denial." I try my best to completely forget about "the decision" unless I am ready and prepared to put some serious thought into it. Otherwise, I stress, I cry, I worry and I eat chocolate. None of which are good things.

 After many days of denial, numerous emotional breakdowns, inappropriate death jokes and long talks with family and friends, I have decided to take a risk with the 40-40-20, and have the surgery. I think I always knew that this is how I would decide; I was simply not ready to say it out loud. Because in reality, this surgery is life changing. I either leave the hospital cancer free, leave the hospital to live my life because the tumor was inoperable, or I leave the hospital for a funeral home. Harsh? Of course. My reality? Unfortunately. These are the thoughts that run through my mind twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. And until the surgery, this is what I have to worry about.

 Another thing I will worry about? What if things do end badly? I am extremely OCD, and want things done a certain way. That being said, I will also spend my time planning. Planning what you may ask? My funeral. I have been in the position of picking out caskets, picking out funeral music, picking out burial plots, and it is not fun. It is emotionally exhausting. If things end badly, I do not want my family to have to make these decisions. So I will make them for them. I will tediously write down every minute detail. It will not be enjoyable, but it must be done. And I will write letters. Just in case things end badly, I will write my family and loved ones letters to share my heart with them, and to say goodbye. Dad, Mom, Breanna, Nick, Justin, Gracin, and a few others. Writing these letters will not be easy, but it is something that I must do for myselft, and for my loved ones. I want to tell my sister that she was such a great role model to me growing up; always doing everything first so that I would know the correct path to follow. To tell my brother that although he is my younger brother, he has always made me feel so protected and so taken care of. To tell my nephew that he brought light into my life in the darkest of times. There are so many things I want to tell people, and I fear that I will not have the words, the time, or the strength to put it all on paper. But I will try.

I am sure many of you are wondering why I chose to proceed with the surgery. Like I mentioned in a previous blog, my friend told me, "If you choose to walk away, you are choosing death." And he is right. Having the risky surgery and taking a chance at being cancer free is choosing life, and I chose life. There has to be a reason for all that I have endured in my short life. There has to be a reason that I lost my wonderful Husband at the age of 25. There has to be a reason that I have had cancer twice in three years. I am meant for more than dying at 27 on an operating table, or in a hospital room. I truly believe that I can make an impact on those around me once this is all said and done. I want to encourage. I want to inspire. I want to look back at my life in five years and be so grateful that I walked through the darkest of times because the life I will have then will be so amazing and blessed. I want to be past this. But, in order to be past this, I must walk through this. I must go through the fear, the anxiety, the emotional pain, the worry. And I am ready to do so. I am ready to be cancer free. I am ready to start a new chapter of my life. And I will cherish every moment from that point on. I will encourage others with my story. I will spend more time loving on my family and friends. I will take more risks. I will fall in love more passionately. I will praise God with all that I am. I will honor Dan with every day of my life. And I will make a difference. This, I am sure of.

So, THANK YOU to everyone who has encouraged me and prayed for me during the decision making process. Thank you to my family who has sat by patiently as I shut them out and snapped at their opinions. Thank you to my friends who have laughed with me, cried with me, and simply spent time with me knowing that I did not want to be alone. I would not have made it this far without the amazing and loving people that I am blessed to have in my life.

I am not sure what the future holds for me. But I am sure of my decision. I am sure that I want to live. I am sure that I want to hold my nephew in my arms again. I am sure of my faith. Faith that God has a bigger plan for my life.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11


  1. Kristen, I'll be praying for a successful outcome. I admire your bravery and hope that all your preparation and planning won't be needed for a LONG time.


  2. Kristen, It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself, cry and get angry. Not one of us gets through life without going through many terrible feelings and heartache. We all feel like giving up at times. There have been many times when I have felt like ending my life and realize that by doing that, for sure won’t go to Heaven. God never gives you anymore than you can handle but he sure pushes me to the limit at times.

    You are still very much alive and you are a living testimony to other people to do a reality check and realize that maybe THEIR lives aren’t so bad after all.

    I am so sorry for the loss of your husband. God is testing your faith. Follow your heart.
    I believe you have more than a 40% chance of surviving. A human gave you that number. God can make that 100% chance of survival. God can guide the surgeon’s hands during the operation. Even a surgeon’s 40% guess is better than 0% by surrendering. God has given you the option to live by telling you 40%. Look how often the weatherman is wrong. Satan wants you to die. Let Satan know that you are not scared to die and he will get off your back. The fact that you are in your 20s gives you a greater chance of recovering than if you were in your 60s.

    I was dealt an extremely “bad unfair hand” in life and have suffered for decades. If it weren’t for God I would not have reached 60 years old. You are stronger than you think. You’ve proven that you can handle whatever gets thrown at you. If you chose to walk away, you are choosing death for sure and would be giving up. That’s what Satan wants. Having the surgery is fighting, and you WILL WIN! Your strength, determination and your desire to live will pull you through this terrible period of your life. When the surgery is over, you’re cured of cancer and released from the hospital; you can share your testimony with other Christians who need encouragement. Until your surgery, go ahead and have some chocolate. It was created as comfort food to be eaten as often as needed. DO NOT worry about the surgery. Worry is interest paid on something that probably won’t happen anyway. Trust God. If you don’t make it, you will see Dan and God sooner than planned and be out of this Hell hole we call earth. Dan just went to your permanent house before you did. GOD has a bigger plan for your life. He didn’t just put you on earth to have your husband pass while you were 25, get cancer and then die on an operating table. I don’t think so!

    Thanks for sharing your story about how you and Dan met and got married. I used to videotape weddings in Chicago for a weekend job and the one thing that touched me more than anything was when one of the couple would tell the other during their wedding vows, “I didn’t marry you because I could LIVE WITH you. I married you because I COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT YOU.”

    I am friends with your uncle Bill and aunt Tami in IL and attend weekly Bible meetings at their house. I’ve also been going to the same church for the last couple of months. Even though you don’t know me, I pray for you and others before I go to sleep each morning. I watch Joel Osteen each week and he says, “If you think negative, negative things will happen. If you think positive, positive things will happen. Don’t be a victim, be a victor!” I have a good feeling about your surgery. God has bigger plans for you.
    Rick K.

  3. Kristen, I think you are amazing!! You are so incredibly strong and brave. No matter what moments of weakness you've felt, you desire to push on shows your courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, but it is facing your fears. You are courageous. May you find comfort in God and chocolate :)

  4. Hi Kristen! I can't remember how, but I came across your blog recently. You made the decision that was right for you and I'm glad you have the peace of mind of knowing that. I'm glad you are choosing life and hope. Is your surgery date planned yet? I will be thinking of you!

    I also want to tell you about an awesome organization called First Descents that holds free adventure camps for young adults with cancer. I just came back from my first camp (I had thyroid cancer) and it was incredible! You should check them out and consider going to a camp in the future: www.firstdescents.org

    Best wishes!