Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - 32

Dear Cancer...

PARTNERS

"Watching a survivor
overcome mountains
and oceans in one
week is absolutely
inspiring. It's easy
to get caught up in
the day-to-day to-do
list, but these humble
moments remind
me of the beauty
of our survivor-led
organization."
Dear Cancer,
On December 31st, 2014 our love affair
started. You pursued me; in fact, I had no
idea you were stalking me from afar for so
long. Your cunning and manipulative pursuit
brought me to my knees; literally. I didn't
choose you, but you chose me. You saw a
vulnerable scared women, post-divorce and
raising two kids, and you knew I was broken.
Weak. You knew I was hanging onto my life
by a thread, desperately working to weave my
life back together. I had to surrender to your
attachment to me like a victim who finally
stops fighting her fate. There we were, at 2pm
on the last day of the year, entangled in our
abusive love affair.
The next 18 months you put me through
Hell. You dragged me through 6 grueling
months of chemo, 36 rounds of radiation,
and 4 major surgeries. You ripped my life
from me. You took my hair, my breasts, my
self esteem, my hope for the future. You
gutted me of everything that I was, and
everything I was striving to become. You
ended me.
But I ended us.
I was finally able to break away from your
grip, running naked and scared towards
freedom. A freedom I had only imagined
would actually exist. A freedom without you.
Though you were physically gone from
me, the pain and trauma you caused stayed.

32

ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
DECEMBER 2019

Every day it wrapped itself around me like
a straight jacket, cutting of my new breaths
of life. I couldn't get you out of my mind, or
off my skin. I tried everything. The stain of
you would not fade.
Until I ran away. I ran away from my
new life because you still haunted me. In
a desperate quest to learn who I was without you, I ran away to an island far away.
I left my job, family, and responsibilities
behind. I had to fight this battle alone. Or
so I thought.
I was able to run away to this island because of an organization named Project
Koru. At the time I didn't realize the impact this experience was going to have on
my life. I was able to become family with
13 others who were running away from
the same demon. We were all able to push
our bodies and our minds further then we
knew we could. We embarked on a journey
of becoming, together. This experience is
what saved me, and Project Koru gave me
the strength and insight to become the
woman I am today.
Today, the woman I am is a happy and
chaotic mother of three, and the Executive
Director of Project Koru. I am able to lead
the organization that gave me so much.
As Executive Director, day-to-day operations for Project Koru are often administrative in nature - budgeting, forecasting,
philanthropic asks, spreadsheets, and board
meetings. Back in October, I was reim-

mersed into the koru continuum when I
headed to Maui to manage Project Koru's
41st Camp Koru program. To be honest, I
struggled to take a pause from the priorities
in my inbox for this trip.
I am SO glad I did. The magic of Koru
and working alongside stellar volunteer
leadership to support the lives of 15 young
adult cancer survivors brings me back to
our purpose at Project Koru.
When I work at camp, I walk the beach
at night alone to decompress. I walk in the
silence of the night, paying close attention to
the sound of the waves, the mountains above
me, and the ocean beside me. Without fail, I
feel a wash of peace. Though the mountains
are high, I know they are climbable. Though
the ocean is vast, I know there's a shore that
can be reached. I know these things not
only from my own journey through cancer and survivorship, but also by watching
the campers. These survivors climb their
mountains and swim their seas every day.
Their mountains may be fear, infertility,
loss of self, and lack of confidence. Their
seas may be continued lifelong treatment,
surgeries, scars.
Watching a survivor overcome mountains and oceans in one week is absolutely
inspiring. It's easy to get caught up in the
day-to-day to-do list, but these humble
moments remind me of the beauty of our
survivor-led organization.
So, as I walked along the beach, I thought
- they'll be back. As leaders, mentors, and
community members, poised to support the
next wave of survivors. I was where they
are, and I'm honored to witness who they
will become.
Just as one feels the pull to reach out to the
person who ruined them, I need to reach out
to Cancer and say, "look at me now". Cancer tore me down, but it also allowed me to
blossom into someone amazing. Much like
a victim will never thank their assaulter, I
will never thank cancer. But I will always
remember the demon that broke me down,
allowing my internal resilience to transform
me into something more beautiful than I
could have ever expected.
BETH PECK


http://www.elephantsandtea.com

Elephants and Tea - December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Elephants and Tea - December 2019

Contents
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - Cover1
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - Cover2
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - 1
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - Contents
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - 3
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - 4
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Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - Cover3
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - Cover4
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