It’s interesting to me how easy it is to talk about Josh, everything we went through, and everything I’ve gone through without him but to talk about stuff I’ve gone through before cancer is tough. I was asked for a bio from Soldier 6 as they prepare to gift me my service dog and lets just say it’s fairly vague (for the sake of my mother and because well, I just really don’t want to talk about the details). We are one week away from bringing Alexis home. Below, is what they posted on their site:
Help me welcome our newest member to the Soldiers 6 family, Natasha Orbeck. She and K9 Alexis will join forces one week from today. Below is her bio and pictures that she chose to share. They are beautiful and show her journey in joy and sorrow. We truly believe better days are ahead Natasha. Welcome❤️🐾 you are never alone. #evenheroesneedbackup
I was born in California and moved to Minnesota when I was 4 years old. My childhood was not easy and before my senior year of high school, I moved into my own apartment and joined the military. I worked as a waitress and bartender my entire senior year and often closed the place down. Needless to say, my grades took a dive. I did graduate and then quickly shipped off to my final phase of training known as AIT where I became a Combat Medic. I spent 1 year with a medevac unit stateside before volunteering to deploy with a separate unit.
We were stationed in Balad however I was one of the “lucky” medics that got to travel to other bases. I visited Tahlil, Basrah, Baghdad and Camp Warhorse to name a few. I received an ARCOM for my work as a medic which is something to be proud of however, I came home a different person.
I was skittish, angry, impatient, nervous, hyper vigilant and exhausted all of the time. I denied any issues as I continued to move forward in life by doing the things society expected. I went back to my job, bought a house and continued living despite the overwhelming thoughts of what if I just drove off this cliff or if I took all these pills at once…..
Then it happened, I met someone. A police officer in fact! He encouraged me to seek help and I reluctantly registered at the Minneapolis VA Post Traumatic Stress Recovery Clinic. Together with the PTSR clinic and my new boyfriend, I grew to enjoy life much more, be more confident and feel like I was in a good place. This boyfriend eventually became my husband and our lives became a never-ending story of goal seeking chaos mixed with an everlasting love.
I started college (again) and earned a degree before my husband decided to switch up his career a bit. He went from Police Officer to State Trooper so again our world had a little bit more chaos than order.
Then it happened, we’ got pregnant! In the midst of his academy and halfway through my second college degree! There was a lot of uncertainty with how we would make it work but we did. We lived separate until just before we had the baby. Our baby girl was born and we were excited to finally be parents!
Eventually, his work brought us full circle and we were able to move back to where we started. By this point, I realized the degree I had earned would not transfer so easily into jobs that I could work within an hour of home. I was not willing to live separate again so I offered myself up for college again… I began nursing school in 2015.
Then it happened, cancer. In the midst of our lives finally settling down and halfway through my third degree, my rock, my person was diagnosed with cancer. I stayed strong and positive as best as I could, and he did too. We had built a foundation of faith and love and knew that with everything we had been through, supported each other on, and been victorious in, that this fight would be no different.
Except it was. On July 27, 2017 just 13 months after diagnoses, my husband went to be with Jesus. Now I was there alone to fight my demons who were being stirred up in record fashion except I’m a mom now so I can’t just throw in the towel. Suppress, ignore and carry on is what I did. I’m a soldier after all; I can do this.
Many people saw me struggling but I assured them I would do no harm. Mentally that was hard, but my heart could not fathom leaving our daughter without both parents. I was offered a service dog before, but I denied it and said, “give it to someone who needs it more”.
After 10 months of being a single mom of one, I decided to become a single mom of two. Prior to Josh’s chemotherapy treatments, we banked specimens to continue our family. I made the gut-wrenching decision to follow through with our dream. I knew I wouldn’t get my fairytale ending but I felt compelled to live out what plans I could, and I am proud to say God gave us a boy!
It’s so easy to smile on the outside and occupy yourself with the demands of your days especially when kids are involved however, at night when they sleep and you’re up alone, your mind gets going again and it’s a fight to get back up after the spiral down to the demons.
I thought being a medic and seeing what I’d seen, helping those I could and failing others was the hardest thing I’d ever endure and it still pretty high up there but nothing can prepare you or come close to the pain of losing your person. The one man who didn’t turn away when I “wasn’t okay”. Now I talk to a stone and shake my fists at the sky and simply wonder why I have been asked with carrying so much. What does God see in me that this weight continues to rise?
Then in September of 2018, my battle committed suicide. Suddenly the grief over losing my Josh and everything prior became impossible to hide behind a smile. I knew I needed something, and I reluctantly agreed to have a service dog. I was met with a “finally!” as Dana could see all too well the need but could not move forward without my go ahead.
I am both anxious and excited to receive my dog as many have told me what a difference it makes. The one piece of humor I continue to find in it all is that she’s a lab. My husband Josh convinced me to get a lab once because “they only shed twice a year” I never questioned this but quickly realized that their “shedding seasons” lasted 6 months at a time.
I’d like to believe my husband is looking down and proud of the steps I have made for myself and our children and I am almost certain he is laughing over the fact that Alexis is a lab!
I am realizing that not only is it ok to be broken, it’s ok to ask for help and I pray Alexis helps me get back to the me I once was instead of this shattered soul who wears a mask.