Friday, March 25, 2011

A New Beginning

We have just entered the first week of Spring. However in Minnesota there are no signs of a season change as there is still snow on the ground and temperatures are in the 30's. Yesterday, I posted on my Facebook page a fact stating that there were a lot of crabby people in Minnesota. Many of my Facebook friends confessed that they were one of them. The recent snow storm was the last straw for the many residents of Minnesota aching for warmer weather. We had a brief taste of Spring before yet another snow storm hit this week. Temperatures were in the 50's and the snow was just about gone. People had emerged out of their homes and were outside enjoying the weather. Unfortunately this gift was quickly taken away from us. Strangely, I haven't been bothered by the weather. Simple reasons as high doses of Vitamin D or a recent vacation to Florida may explain my indifference to the snow on the ground. However, I am guessing it is because the weather has become low on my priority list of things to get hot and bothered about. It is amazing how this list has changed over the past couple of years.

The best medicine for the Minnesota winter blues is a warm and sunny vacation. I took this medicine in February and Jason, the girls and I headed down south. The prescription: a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas and then a visit with my parents in Orlando. It was a much needed vacation for my family after all we have been through. The week before we left I was convinced that something was going to prevent us from going. I carried around hand sanitizer and sterilized my family's hands until they were raw. I avoided any activity that would cause another hole in my face. No one or nothing was going to stop us from going on our trip. Needless to say the cruise was amazing, but what vacation by Disney isn't? We set sail on the new Disney ship called the Dream. From the second we set sail, our time was filled with fun and laughter. My low stamina and anxiety went out the porthole in our stateroom and we embraced every opportunity that was given to us on the ship by Disney. I felt as if my family had reconnected and we were back to normal once again. It was such a fabulous trip that we booked another cruise for February 2012 even before we got off the ship. A monumental step for us as a certain member of our family obsesses with spending hours researching every price point or option before booking a vacation. A step that signified how much fun we had on the cruise.

Life in the Karrmann household is back to normal. We are in a routine again…a routine I longed for while going through treatment. Jason and the girls have moved forward and are focusing again on work and school. However, it is taking me a little longer to feel content, confident and fearless. I spend a lot of time thinking about what has happened and what is to come in the future. Being consumed by a disease for two years has caused me to feel lost and in the midst of searching for my purpose in life. Feelings that have been easily identified by my Oncology nurses and acknowledged as standard protocol for many cancer survivors. Now what do I do with my life? I am ready for God to reveal his next plan for me…whatever it may be. Despite all of the pain and suffering, I never felt closer to God throughout my battle with cancer. It took very little effort to feel his presence and his love during a time I needed it most. Now I feel as if God is quiet and sitting back watching how I approach my life and my faith. I think he wants me to need him now as much as I needed him back them….to seek his will and to wholeheartedly trust him no matter what the circumstances.

I spend most of my days undoing what has been done since I was out of commission. I have cleared out almost every corner in this household items that have been stock piling over the past couple of years in closets, kitchen cabinets and drawers. Our house has become a weekly stop for charity pickup. Our family has never been more organized…notice the calendar on our refrigerator listing all doctor appointments, activities or engagements that each of us has for months to come. I am volunteering at the girls' school, spending time with friends, and reading lots of books. But most of all, I am enjoying having the ability to choose how I want to spend my time. A choice that I did not have for quite sometime. I have to confess I have been a bit selfish with my time and may have been known by my family to throw a little tantrum here and there if I don't get to do what I want to do and when I want to do it. But I am getting better.

In addition to searching for the meaning of life after cancer, I will now begin to search for the meaning of life after turning 40. Almost every day, I see an old high school friend on Facebook share their feelings about turning the big 4-0. It will be my turn in April. A lot of women my age would wish for a facelift for their 40th birthday. My birthday wish this year will be for a "facedown". I am waiting for the date, most likely in April, when my surgeon will be shaving down the transplanted bone in my face and the broken bone in the orbit of my eye. It took me awhile to be emotionally ready for another surgery. But I think it is safe to say I am more than ready to be able to blend in with the crowds and to not be stared at by those I pass by. Friends and family that look at the photos taken during the holidays and on our Dream vacation will notice I am the picture taker and not the picturee. When I see pictures of myself I just want to break down and cry. It has been hard for me to accept the way I look and to be comfortable around people that don't know me or know what I have been through. In addition to my "facedown" I will also get implants to replace the teeth that were removed during my maxillectomy. I know my face will never be the same, but I have hopes that these next surgeries will help me to feel more comfortable in my own skin.

Overall, life is good. No, life is great! Yes, I could do without 3rd grade homework and sister rivalry…and probably winter. But I am enjoying my life being cancer free. I will continue to keep you updated as my surgeries quickly approach. My next MRI will be in June, and I hope I will be able to continue writing this blog from a cancer survivor's point of view. Thank you all for your continued prayers. Much love, Sue.

By Laura Story

We pray for blessings

We pray for peace

Comfort for family, protection while we sleep

We pray for healing, for prosperity

We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while, You hear each spoken need

Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears

What if a thousand sleepless nights

Are what it takes to know You’re near

What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom

Your voice to hear

And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love

As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

All the while, You hear each desperate plea

And long that we'd have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears

What if a thousand sleepless nights 

Are what it takes to know You’re near

And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us

When darkness seems to win

We know the pain reminds this heart

That this is not, this is not our home,

It's not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears

And what if a thousand sleepless nights

Are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments

Or the aching of this life

Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy

And what if trials of this life

The rain, the storms, the hardest nights

Are your mercies in disguise