Friday, August 24, 2012

The Void

After months of deliberating, months of panic attacks, months of denial, and months of utter fear, a surgery date has been set. And it feels good. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It took me long enough to make the decision to proceed with this surgery, and the fact that it is quickly approaching is a crazy feeling. I have never been contradicted with so many various emotions. Fear. Anxiety. Excitement. Hope. And at this point, it is exhausting.

Don’t get me wrong, the thought of being cancer free is exhilarating. I often find myself day dreaming about my life, post cancer. And it is beautiful. A career. A man who loves me and supports me. Children. I literally become giddy as these thoughts take over my subconscious. But as quickly as they enter my mind, the leave. And they are replaced with an emptiness. A void. And that void can only be filled by one thing; my Husband. I have so many nights where I lay in bed laden with fear, and a horrible feeling of loneliness. I so wish that I could reach over in bed and feel Dan lying next to me. Feel his arms around me. Feel his kiss on my lips. Rather, I reach over and feel nothing but cold sheets. And that is a heart wrenching feeling. And unfortunately, that is a feeling that I am all too familiar with.
As I battled my first bout of cancer in 2009, Dan was deployed to Iraq. And although we were thousands of miles apart, he was still there for me every single step of the way. He would call during every chemo session and talk me through them. He would email me Bible verses multiple times throughout the week. He supported me. He encouraged me. He loved me. And although I am surrounded by amazing family and friends at this trying time of my life, there is still something missing. HE is missing.

I can’t help but think how different things would be if Dan were here with me. In all honesty, it is painful to think about. I know that I would be his number one priority. He would have slept in my hospital room during both surgeries and both in-patient chemo sessions. He would have been the one to shave my head, and make me feel beautiful during the entire process. He would have sat with me as I threw up for weeks straight because of radiation. He would have supported me during the in-vitro process. He would have made me laugh when I wanted to cry. He would have pushed me to press on when I wanted to quit. He would have been my rock. My everything.
In less than three weeks, September 12th, I will be going in for a life-changing and life-threatening surgery. Instead of having my Husband there to hold my hand, I will have him there as my guardian angel. Yes, that thought is very comforting and puts me at ease. However, as I sit and write this blog, I am experiencing the fear and anxiety of this surgery, rather than the excitement and the hope. I don’t want a guardian angel. I want Dan. I want him to hold me. To kiss me. To tell me that everything is going to be okay. I want to open my eyes on the day of surgery and see his gorgeous green eyes and sexy smile looking back at me. I guess I will have to do without.

I have been without my Husband for 22 months and 19 days. September 12th will be the date of my surgery. However, it will also be just another day that I wake up in an empty bed. Another day without hearing his voice. Another day without touching him. Another day of being Dan Johnson’s widow. But God willing, September 12th may also be the day that I become cancer free. The day that I get my life back. And I will do my best to go into this day and make Dan proud. To be brave. To be strong. To depend on God. To be the courageous woman that he married.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Out with the Old, In with the New

I realize that many of my blogs sound repetative. Woe is me. I have cancer. I am a widow. My life sucks. That being said, I have felt like I need to make a change in my life, but was having trouble figuring out what that change was. I realize now that it was not one big change, but multiple little changes to make my life what I want it to be. Hence my newest entry...

My once boring and mundane life is now tumultuous, dramatic, scary and extremely stressful. And as sad as it is for me to admit, I have adjusted to this new life and have accepted it as normal. I have accepted my situation for what it is, and have decided to make the absolute best of it. I have been trying to change the unchangeable for the past few months, and I give up. Dan is dead. I cannot change that. I have cancer. I cannot change that. I will be having an extremely dangerous surgery in the near future. I cannot change that. I feel powerless. And that is very frustrating and tiresome. Because I cannot change those things in my life, it is time for me to take power of the things that I can change. And I am doing it with a vengeance.

With all that I have been through in my short 27 years of life, I have learned that I must make the best of the time that God has given me on this earth. For Dan, it was a very short, yet very precious, 23 years. Dan lived his life with zeal, enthusiasm and a faith so on fire for God. He took risks, loved with all that he had, and did not take himself too seriously. I envy him for that, and am trying to follow in his impossible-to-fill shoes. I am very honest with myself, and realize that my life may not be a long as I hoped. I may not live to be 90, with grey hair, and lots of children and grandchildren. My life may end on the operating table in six weeks. My life may end in 10 years. My life may end in 60 years. Who knows? But what I do know, is that I am going to make the very best of my life here on earth. My time is precious. And because my time is so precious, things must change.

I know I have said this a number of times, but I have been so incredibly blessed by the people in my life. I have a wonderful and loving family, in-laws that I love just as if we were blood, and a group of friends that I would do anything for. However, I also have people in my life that do not deserve to be there. People who are negative, do not build me up, stress me out and cause me to question who I am. These are people that I am not willing to waste my time on. I love the person that I am, and if you do not accept me, or better who I am, then I need to break away. I need space. God places certain people in your life for a reason, and I can truly appreciate that. However, I can also recognize when people have served their purpose. I have a lot to offer as a friend and a lot to offer in a relationship. Those who do no appreciate that are not welcome to be a part of my journey. I want family that loves me unconditionally, friends that encourage me, and boys that give me butterflies.

Another area in my life that I can control is how I treat the body that I was given. As many of you know, I spent a lot of time being overweight when I was younger. Truth be told, I reached 227 lbs in college, and I will never see that number again. I cannot control the cancer that is in my body, but I can control what I put in it, and what I do with it. I will fuel my body with healthy foods, and I will do my best to work out when I have the energy, to make it as strong as I possibly can. Surgery will knock me down, and hard. I won’t be able to eat for at least two weeks, and work out for about a month. I will make my body the strongest, and healthiest that it can possibly be going in to this surgery. It will help me make a quicker recovery, and will help me start my cancer-free life on the right foot. And if the tumor is not removed and the cancer remains, then my body will be strong, healthy, and ready to continue the fight.

Lastly, I can control what I do with my life when I am cancer free. Key word being WHEN, not IF. After losing your Husband at the age of 25, and being dealt the incredible blow that is cancer, twice, you truly gain a new appreciation for life. I do not want to waste my time sitting behind a desk, or doing work that does not stimulate me, and fill me with accomplishment and purpose. I want to be passionate about what I do after this surgery. I want to follow my dreams, because I can. Dan loved being an EOD tech, and he did it with such passion and dedication. He looked forward to going to work everyday. He loved deploying, and he loved saving lives. He died doing what he loved. If I can find a career that I love as much as he did, I would consider myself extrememly blessed. My life will be great. I want to write. I want to travel. I want to fall in love, and I want to raise a wonderful God-fearing family.

My tumor is shrinking, and that is so incredibly encouraging. This new news makes me want to do the surgery as soon as possible, and put this all behind me, once and for all. I am ready to be done.  But I would not change the fact that I am sick. It has given me strength and faith that I couldn’t ever fathom. But I am ready to make these changes in my life, and move on. I am ready to live life to the fullest, and never look back. I will have no regrets. I will say what I feel, and I will wear my heart on my sleeve. I will make mistakes, and I will learn from them. As corny as it sounds, I will live each day as if it were my last. I have never truly understood that quote until I realized that my last day may be sooner than I thought. It is time to clear out the clutter and negative things in my life, and move on with a fresh outlook on who I am, a fresh outlook on what I deserve, and a fresh outlook on life after cancer. And I can not wait to start this new life. Ready, set, go.