At twenty-three years old, my life was idyllic. I was healthy. I was in love with my amazing boyfriend. I hadn’t lost anyone close to me. I was happy, and slightly ignorant to the realities of this world. Fast forward four years and I am a completely different person. My name is Kristen Johnson. I am a two-time cancer survivor. And I am a proud military widow.
I was first diagnosed with Liposarcoma while Dan was on his first deployment in Iraq. I was 23 years old. Dan finished his deployment, came home, and finished my treatments with me. And in December of 2009, I was deemed cancer free. And a few short weeks later, Dan proposed to me on Christmas Eve. Life was perfect. I was cancer free and engaged, and couldn’t be happier. Dan was my soul mate and number one supporter. He was my everything.
We were married on June 5th, 2010 on a perfect and gorgeous summer day. Eight weeks after our wedding, Dan deployed to Afghanistan. After being in-country for only six weeks, Dan was killed by an IED that detonated in his vicinity. From that point on, my world fell apart. I had lost my best friend. My love. My Husband. I struggled. I embraced it. I accepted it. I denied it. I went through every emotion until it had become my new reality.
And after I thought that I had it handled and that my life was starting to form a new sort of normal, my world was rocked again. I was re-diagnosed with cancer. And this time, it was bad. The only difference is that I did not have Dan to fight the battle with me; I was doing it alone. I went through two surgeries without him. I lost my hair without him. I withered away without him. I fought for my life, without him. But after a long and trying 16-month battle, I beat it, and I am, once again, cancer free.
My life has morphed into something that I never fathomed. It has changed me into this version of myself that I never imagined, but kind of love. I have seen and experienced things that I do not wish upon anyone. I have had some of the darkest days where I was not sure I wanted to continue. But finally, I have made it to the other side. I am stronger. I am wiser. And I now know that I can handle anything that this world throws at me. I can. And I will.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess: 5:16-18