Exactly one year ago I began blogging. My first blog was titled, "27... now what?" I wrote about how my life at 26 was not anything that I ever could have fathomed, and that 27 was going to be MY YEAR. A year to become cancer free. A year to start my master's degree. A year to travel. A year to do what ever I wanted to do. Well, here I am, one week left of being 27 and I did not do what I intended; in both good and bad ways. 27 was a year of sickness, a year of chemotherapy and treatment, a year of self-doubt, a year of celebration from being cancer free, a year of self-discovery, and a year of courage that I did not think I had. To sum it up, 27 was exhausting!
Unfortunately, a large majority of the last year of life was defined and consumed by my sickness. April through July was full of treatments, which caused me to be sick and very low energy. I did do a bit of traveling, which was great! However, traveling came with its own stresses, as I was lacking an immune system and was completely nervous every time I even touched something foreign. Praise God I did not get anything too serious. And luckily, April through July was also full of preparations for Dan's 2nd annual golf tournament. And I must say, that is my favorite way to stay occupied. Anything that I can do that brings attention and honor to Dan's legacy is where I want to spend my free time. The tournament was a huge success, and was a great way to take my mind off of my illness, if only for a brief moment.
Before I knew it, September was upon us and it was surgery time. This surgery date had been looming over my head for months, and I was so ready to get it over with! The worrying and the stress of not knowing the outcome was starting to take its toll on me physically, emotionally, and mentally. Dan's golf tournament in Wisconsin was a week before the surgery, so I was able to fly there, visit family, honor Dan, AND take my mind off of the big day. And thank the Lord for that. I had never had a more enjoyable and relaxing vacation where I could simply unwind, and spend quality time with my family. It was just what I needed before September 12th; my new "birthday."
September 12th was a great day. It is the day I heard the words that I had been wanting to hear for so long; "CANCER FREE." Finally. After 15 months of chemotherapy treatments, radiation, doctors visits, failed attempts at removing the tumor, and nights lying awake crying of what the future holds, I was CANCER FREE. We were all so incredibly relieved. I was cured. However, I had no idea what the next four months had in store for me. As my last few blogs mention, my recovery process was hell, utter HELL. However, I realized so much about myself that I did not know. I realized that I can make it through anything that is thrown my way. I realized that I have more determination than I ever would have imagined. I realized that my family is the most supportive and amazing group of people that I could have ever been blessed with. I realized who my true friends are. And I realized that even in the darkest of times, God is by our side and walking us through each trail and celebration.
And unfortunately, in the past two months or so, I have been challenged in a way that I never would have imagined. Losing Dan was incredibly tough. But we loved each other with all that we had, and had no regrets. I will never get over the loss of him, but each day does become a bit more bearable. And cancer is a physical battle that I can fight, like a pro. But dealing with mental health issues is a battle that I was not prepared for, and am still struggling to figure out how to overcome. I won't go into much detail, because I do not think that I am quite ready for that. But attempting to battle over something that is so strong and so dangerous worries me to my core. I used to pat myself on the back all the time because I had made it through losing Dan and two bouts of cancer, "unscathed," but boy was I wrong. This new battle is tougher than anything I ever could have imagined. Anxiety, body image and eating issues can be a very powerful catalyst for a downward spiral that I will not let myself begin. But after the battles that I have overcome, I have complete confidence in myself that I will come out on top of this one as well. Time will tell.
In four days, I will turn 28 years old. This time around, I am not going to set goals for myself. I have learned over the past three plus years that what we have planned for our lives has absolutely nothing to do with what is actually going to happen. We can't control the majority of things that happen to us, we can only control how we react. I do not want to set myself up for disappointment. All I can promise in this next year is that I will continue to take care of my health in the best way I can; physically, emotionally, and most importantly, mentally. I will continue to love and cherish my family and friends, and be thankful to have such an amazing support system. I will continue to love Dan with my whole heart. And I will continue to trust God with every fiber of my being. 28 may be the best year of my life. It may be full of travel, love and opportunity. However, it may also have its fair share of pain, loss and personal battles. Either way 28, bring it. I am ready.