Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 28

Love

FINDING PURPOSE

How to Hold
Purpose Through
Impermanence
BY C OU RT SI M MONS

P

eace ya'll. My name is Court and I'm here to remind you that if you
can find meaning in your experience, life after a cancer diagnosis
can catapult you into your purpose.
I chase understanding and meaning in a life that doesn't offer
many answers-of myself, and of others in the uniquely complex
space that lives between the two.
I invite you to hold my hand on this journey to finding purpose through
a grief-stricken reality.
Cancer entered my realm in 2005 when Mom, a single mother of three,
revealed her cancer diagnosis just before my 10th birthday. Mom was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma. On Memorial Day the following year,
cancer interrupted our lives again. After an emergency brain surgery, my
older sister Christina was diagnosed with a malignant glioblastoma at the
age of 16. She died the following year after a grueling treatment of radiation and chemotherapy. The following year, my family was diagnosed
with a rare cancer predisposition called Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. And
right after that, Mom was diagnosed with
another soft tissue sarcoma. Mom never
got a solace from cancer. She endured the
loss of physical parts of her body through
surgery, and a larger part of her soul after
we buried Christina. In the spring of 2011,
Mom's cancer metastasized into her lungs.
On Christmas night of 2011, Mom died.
My younger brother Reggie and I buried
Mom on New Year's Day of 2012. Later that
month, I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma.
In 2019, I was diagnosed with triple positive
breast cancer. Although my most recent
screening asserts that cancer is not present
in my body today, I am living with cancer.

28

ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
DECEMBER 2020

Most days, I feel this second chance filling my lungs with air. I have gratitude that
can catapult me through horror.
There is a downside to this bliss. Sometimes, the things that we find the most
beautiful can make us feel the most sadness.
As I mature, trauma associated with grief
and cancer add complexity to my experience. Other days, I feel guilty for living
when so many that are close to me have
died. I have internalized a generational
curse of grief and hardship and spent so
many years entrenched in a cyclical trauma
that predates my birth. When a new lump
or ache presents, the time between the MRI
study and results is suffocating. Many of
us are familiar with survivor's guilt. Often,
I feel guilty for being alive with cancer
when Mom and Christina were robbed of
the opportunity.
In a lecture during my undergraduate career, the professor played a video describing
the idea of existentialism. It resonated with
the most intimate parts of my soul. The
existential bummer helped to contextualize
the nostalgia I feel for things and people
that are standing in front of me. When I
experience deep love, I too feel great melancholy because I understand that what is so
important today will someday be forgotten.
That is a very difficult experience to settle.


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Elephants And Tea - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Elephants And Tea - December 2020

Contents
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - Cover1
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Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 1
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