Saturday 19th October 2019

Women Of Courage Series. #14. Veronica. 88/2019.

Trigger Warning: Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatments.

 

 

Women of Courage Series. #14. Veronica. 88/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

I have known Veronica, who is 50,  for some years now and we met way back via the blogging community in Sydney.  For some years we continued following each other via the usual social media and then we had a closer connection than either of us would choose. I was treated for my head and neck cancer in the same place where Veronica received the news she discloses in her story.  I welcome her to share today and her story concludes with a number of important links Veronica supplied. 

 

 

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

My life changed forever in March 2018, just about the time I was planning how to celebrate my upcoming 50th birthday.

After several hours of poking and prodding, I was sitting in the waiting room, trying to stay calm, breathing intentionally, focusing on positivity, yet bracing myself for bad news. The doctor finally called me into her office.

We sat down and I grabbed my husband’s hand tightly.

“I’m sorry…..you’ve got breast cancer.”

I tried to hold my composure as I attempted to absorb the news and subsequent information. “Treatment and outcomes have improved”, I heard someone say. A lot of the discussion was about the next steps. It was only when I mentioned what was first and foremost in my mind, my young daughters, that I burst into tears. I had to be here to see them grew up. I just had to.

 

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

There is no instruction manual for these type of moments. I didn’t realise it at the time but I found my natural problem solving drive kicked into gear. All procrastination seemed a thing of the past. I had to make quick decisions and take action to do what I needed to get this disease out of me immediately.

Amidst the persistent surreal fog I found myself in, my days were intentionally and determinedly busy. There were numerous tests, referrals, specialist appointments, scans, surgery and days and days of treatment. Attacking and overcoming this disease was the priority but keeping busy and distracted with work and a daily routine was paramount. It was my main coping mechanism.

Whilst I felt I could not control cancer or the treatments to come, I tried to focus on what I could control. Very early on, I knew I would lose my hair and chose to take control of that process very deliberately. I chose to embrace the hair loss and not hide it. It was liberating and empowering and still is.

The diagnosis and treatment forced me to look more seriously at my overall health. I started exercising after years of ignoring my general health and it’s helped with the after-effects of surgery and treatment.

I had to learn, and am still learning, to really be kind to myself and my body. Rest, sleep, eat well, let stress go. It’s still a work in slow progress but it’s a step in the right direction.

 

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

Over the ensuing months, many people commented on how strong I was. The truth is I didn’t feel strong much of the time and I definitely did not feel brave.

Before my own diagnosis, I remember looking in awe at others facing this disease and the debilitating effects of the treatments. I would think of my children and be grateful that wasn’t me, feeling strongly in my gut that I’d never have the wherewithal to face such a battle.

Then it was my face in the mirror and I had to face it and there was only one choice. It wasn’t a decision made from bravery. It was a no-brainer. It was a choice to live; a choice to survive; choice to fight for my children, my husband, my family, my loved ones; a choice to fiercely hang onto this precious life we have all been gifted. The quote below rang and still rings so true:

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.” – Bob Marley

I also learnt that I can’t solve every problem. I can use my agency to control what I can, and when there is little I can do, I have to release my mental and emotional grip. I have to go with the flow and embrace the moment and deal with what comes on the other side when I get there.

I learnt that life is a precious gift and worth being grateful for every day. Not everyone gets the chance.

I learnt that worry is inevitable but it fixes nothing. It is a thief, just like the disease. Positive energy, staying hopeful and being in the moment are the best choices.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Yes, but being courageous is to me is feeling the fear but pushing through anyway. It’s not going forward with a sense of power and invincibility. It’s going forward, feeling fragile and vulnerable, yet knowing it is not an option to stay in that dark place. It’s searching for and moving towards the best possible choice that drives me.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Take things moment by moment. Make one brave decision at a time. Take one brave step at time. Be in the now, embrace the present moments. Your initial goal is to take the first step. Then, you take another “first” step and the so on. Don’t worry about the 10th step still you have to face the 10th step.

 

Do add anything else that you think would help others who read your post.

Please add a trigger warning. See above.

Breast Cancer resources:

Pink Hope – Know Your Risk, Change Your Future

http://pinkhope.org.au

Be Dense Aware (Did you know dense breast tissue can make diagnosis more challenging?)

https://www.bedenseaware.com/

iPrevent – Breast Cancer Prevention Through Risk Assessment

https://nbcf.org.au/19/prevention-through-precision-medicine/

Sydney Breast Cancer Foundation – The 3 Step Breast Check

https://www.sbcf.org.au/resources/

National Breast Cancer Foundation – Zero Deaths from Breast Cancer by 2030 campaign

https://nbcf.org.au/

 

I do admire Veronica for her honesty in sharing what for many would be a great challenge. Watching Veronica through the social medium space of instagram I have been in awe of her courage. It was so good to know that she was prepared to share her words. Thank you again dear V.

Denyse.

 

Instagram:  @mixedgems

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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My First Year With Teeth*! 33/51 #LifeThisWeek. 87/2019.

My First Year With Teeth*! 33/51 #LifeThisWeek. 87/2019.

So, this is NOT the optional prompt of Coffee, Tea or What…but for the record it is always this:

Small Latte, extra shot…in a glass. Every.Single.Day.

Ahhh. My habit that is calming and gives me time-out each day.

Now, for the real reason of this post.

One year ago, on 21 August 2018 the prosthodontist from Westmead Oral Sciences, Dr Deshpande issued me with my upper prosthesis, i.e. teeth. They have been ‘part’ of my upper reconstructed mouth now for a year.

Wow.

From no teeth to teeth day

For the previous months: mid May till then, I had so many visits to him – a 2 hour drive there and back – for the measuring, the adjusting, the listening to me whinge about the discomfort of the stent (see below) and sitting/lying in a dental chair for up to 4 hours….tiring and I know it tested my patience. That was when I discovered having earbuds in and listening to an audio book whilst he and Ofelia had their hands in or near my mouth was less confronting. Kind and professional as they are, it is still hard. Do you know what I mean?

My oh so important and wonderful professional team.

What I have learned about having “teeth” (upper prosthesis) up top:

  • it is nothing like the feel of natural teeth (and it’s been a while since I had them anyway)
  • the reason is that it is a device made from hard plastic (probably a better name for it) that is literally screwed into the 3 of 5 abutments I have placed in the ‘new jaw’ from my leg
  • it “looks” terrific. There is no doubt about that. I have a SMILE back.
  • it cannot be felt by me so I do have to think about how I eat. For example, putting a piece of food into my mouth I need to guide it towards the lower part of my mouth and tongue where I have all the natural sensations of taste and texture.
  • there is none on the ‘roof’ or re-constructed palate or the teeth themselves.
  • I can, however, acutely feel foods with some sharp edges (a salada cracker) and something that is savoury .e.g. vegemite which the skin will ‘scream’ a little bit about.
  • it turns out to be an ‘ideal’ way to maintain weight…seriously. I have gained a few kilos in a year but as my mouth is uncomfortable  to eat a lot, it’s a minimiser. I am careful to add protein of some kind into my eating every day.

I am incredibly grateful. Every. Single. Day. for how the marvels of modern medical, surgical and restorative dentistry via my amazing professional team, have given me a life without cancer, teeth that can chew and bite, a mouth that can close, lips (one is numb) that can kiss, and a voice which has not been compromised at all, except for a mildish lisp.

These images tell the story in collage form. Like most of my posts about head and neck cancer, the images also tell my story.

 

 

Surgery One. 6.7.17.

 

Surgery Two.15.11.17.

 

Surgery Three. 7.2.18.

 

Surgery Four. 16.5.18.

 

Between Surgery 4 & Upper Prosthesis Affixed.

 

A Year of Smiles….

Thank you for sharing this with me as a reader and commenter here. I am so fortunate to have a warm and kind community who is part of my blogging world. In fact, Kirsten who was a Woman of Courage recently commented on the community here. How lovely.

Today is the last post about my cancer story. It is as a good time as any to stop posting as I am doing well. I have covered all of what is important to me in terms of updates, announcements about how the surgeries and treatments are going….and of course, important for me, the record-keeper, is the recognition of my progress which I do based on dates. As Wednesday 21 August 2019 is the first anniversary of my ‘teeth’ I decided this can be the final post…until there may be a need for an update. Please do know how much it means to me to have such amazing ‘cheerleaders’ along with me. It helps….always helps to know I am thought about.

Denyse.

 

 

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

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Women Of Courage. #13. Alicia O’Brien. 86/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #13. Alicia O’Brien. 86/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

I have known Alicia who is 46, for many years thanks to ‘the old world of Australian blogging’ where I was first a reluctant entry into ‘link ups.’ This blogger friend has had a link up called Open Slather for years. It was on Mondays and now she has moved it to Friday. Do join in! Alicia impressed me from the beginning with her images: photos of her cooking and outdoors where she captures nature in her part of Australia so well. I welcome Alicia to share her story today, and love this image, captured by one of her young daughters! 

 

 

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

 

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometime courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’. – Mary Anne Radmacher

 

There have many times in my life I have had to call on my courage stores. Plenty of times come to mind when I hadn’t been courageous.

My earliest memory was crossing the rail lines to get to school in the morning. Scared the crap out of me. I may have been a cautious, anxious kid, because it used to frustrate the hell out of mum that I’d turn around and walk back home than to cross the lines.

When I talked to her about it, a true story of courage arose. That of my mum. Twenty four years old with five kids in a small country town, a working husband, no car. She’d walk me half way to school, torn, wanting to take me all the way, but four kids at home on their own. We as women are all courageous, in the way we are responsible for, we struggle and care for our loved ones.

Another time is when Mum asked me get out the car and herd the sheep from behind along the roadside. I would NOT get out of the car. My three-year-old sister did the deed. Gee did mum give me a serve about that. My little sister was the courageous one.

My biggest regret in not being courageous is when as a young mum, I stood in line at the checkout while an older man spewed racist hate at an Asian man who was holding up the line. I could not believe what was coming out of this man’s mouth. My regret was that I never stood forward and said something. No one did. I was angry that my daughters had to listen to such racist filth in this current age. I wish I had of been courageous enough to tell him to stop. Life teaches us many lessons and I will never ever hold back in the same situation again. The Asian man was the one who was courageous.

Most of my calls for courage, I guess anxiety and self-doubt have played a part. I have noticed that calling on my courage stores was easier when I was going through more confident stages of my life.

Meeting new people, taking the step of starting a new job, getting through tough things like my sons’ diagnosis of schizophrenia and the crap that was involved before and after that. It takes courage to keep pushing on in the face of uncertainty.

Even to this day, I must occasionally talk myself into making phone calls or walking into the school gates and be social! I know it’s easy and doesn’t take that much courage, but I let my brain convince me it’s a difficult task!

 

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

I am not sure if it has changed me in any way. I guess it’s made me more aware that I can get through things that maybe my brain was telling me were going to be hard. The funny thing is when it’s all over, it really isn’t that bad. It has given me the tools to face adversity the next time and made me realise I am capable and worthy of confidence in myself that I can do the hard stuff.

I feel I am more persistent and resilient in my approach to tasks.

I am often amazed at how well I cope in a crisis. My brain then seems to snap into survival mode, and I push through under pressure. My brain doesn’t have time to talk me out of it. This ability would come after some experience too. It’s the time after that I need a break to re-centre myself.

 

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

I learned that no matter how tough you think something is going to be, the courage to get through it is already inside of you. It is not something you have to make, it’s there. Don’t overthink the situation and only cross bridges once you come to them. In most situations, your brain can be your worst enemy, the key is to listen to the positive more often than you listen to your negative talk. Tell yourself, “I can do this!”.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

The more I put myself out of my comfort zone, the more confident I become in facing life’s hurdles. The hurdles are bloody inconvenient, and I often question the universe if it thinks I’ve had my fair share already. They say practice makes perfect!

I am however aware that my problems are dwarfed by others, there are so many who are doing it way tougher than me and I am amazed at how courageous they are. They provide inspiration for me to draw on.

The courage of others always inspires me. I have learned that some of those courageous things are just everyday ordinary things and some life changing. Everyone is challenged by something, no matter how big or small.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

The more steps you take everyday out of your comfort zone and facing your fears, the more able and confident you become in facing fears. Life is hard. I think having supportive people around you to help is important and not being afraid to accept that help. I think it is also helpful to have someone who knows what you’re going through at any time to talk to, so you don’t feel so alone in your struggles.

Oh wow. Lots of messages there for me to learn too. Thank you so much Alicia. I loved that we have been on-line friends for ages. Maybe one day we will actually meet!

Denyse.

Blog/Website: https://onemotherhen.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alleychook

Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/One-Mother-Hen-243699915749847/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aliciaonemotherhen/

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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What Makes Me Laugh? 32/51#LifeThisWeek. 85/2019.

What Makes Me Laugh? 32/51#LifeThisWeek. 85/2019.

Actually I am starting with what does NOT make me laugh!

  • people poking so called fun at others
  • slapstick
  • cartoons (sorry!)
  • comments which hurt others which are so-labelled “just joking”
  • most American comedy – movies and shows

Right.

Now I have that out of the way.

These are some things and people which make me laugh!

  • clever lines and ripostes by people I love/respect
  • dry humour: thinking William McInnes as my example when he tells his stories from growing up in his family
  • British comedy which is based on clever scripts  not gross visuals. Vicar of Dibley is one.
  • chatting, talking and enjoying life with my grandchildren: of all ages. There are laughter moments with them of course but it’s part of the joy. Never laughing AT!

Meeting William McInnes in late 2014 was a treat!

  • and this bloke:

In 2015 we did not know that my cancer was ahead but this is US!

 

We couldn’t have stayed together for over 48 years without a shared sense of fun and humour.

We particularly enjoy making each other laugh.

There is little better than a shared belly-laugh or that one when you cannot talk because of the laughter.

Then of course, there is the wonderful endorphin release after a great laugh. Nature’s healing balm.

Recently “he” has been known to make me laugh and coffee/water will explode from my mouth if I am not very careful. Post cancer surgeries this is frequent!

So, what (or who!) makes you laugh.

Do share in the comments.

Denyse.

 

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next week’s link up: 33/51 Tea, Coffee or What? 19/8/19

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Women Of Courage Series. #12 Megan Daley. 84/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #12 Megan Daley. 84/2019.

Some stories here need a trigger warning: this one is for: sudden death.

 

Women of Courage is a series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

Welcome to Megan’s story.  She is 43. I have connected with Megan via social media initially through her #childrensbooksdaily and being both a teacher AND librarian I knew she was someone I would like to meet. Whilst we have not yet done that, her story is one that is such a BIG hug would be in order if we did meet but I hear Megan may not be a hugger. 

Here’s her story.

  

 

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

Those of you who know my blog and website Children’s Books Daily will be well aware that I have experienced overwhelming grief. My brother, my favourite aunt and my beloved husband all died in the space of a few short years, all very unexpectedly, and a number of very dear friends also died in this same period. I feel like my family have been utterly battered by life and death over the last few years and sometimes we do not know which way is up and which way is down. In the very early days of grief if took courage to merely face each day…and not consume all of the chocolate and carbs in the world. Having just passed the second anniversary of my husbands death, courage now looks different. Now it takes courage (and oh so much emotional and physical energy) to solo parent our beautiful daughters and to accept help in doing this and it also takes courage to walk my own path without Dan by my side – in my career and in my personal life.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

The biggest change that I have had to make is to learn to accept help. I grew up with a beautiful community of family friends and we all helped each other and worked tirelessly in the community (technically I watched my parents and their friends work tirelessly in the community  – #samesame). As a young adult I threw myself into volunteer work in the children’s literature community and I’ve always baked for friends or causes in the community such as ‘Baked Relief’ and been ‘that parent’ who ends up on the committees at kindy and school. I absolutely love being with others and being the one to ‘do’. But grief and the realities of solo parenting – the lack of second income and the relentless nature of parenting (I adore parenting but let’s face it, it can be relentless at times!) have meant I have had to accept help, something I have struggled with and continue to wrestle with. I have lost so much sleep over having to accept help – it turns my brain inside out and to mush like nothing else – and I still often just say ‘thank you so much but I’m okay, I’ve got it!’ rather than ‘actually you know what? That would be just so wonderful right now’.

The girls and I have been surrounded by love, care and immense kindness since Dan’s death but, as it should, life does need to return to normal for all involved. There are a few key friends, neighbours and family members who have absolutely not stopped TELLING ME that they are going to do A, B and C for me and they will not take no for an answer – I cannot believe the love they have shown us (without hugging me – I really don’t like hugs). I am really well supported, and yet, some days (many days) life is still incredibly overwhelming. I continue to think that ‘soon I’ll have it together’ and yet I still seem to need so much help just to keep our family unit going. It’s taken courage to accept help…and ‘asking for help’ is a work in progress!

One of changes I did not expect was just how motivated I would be about ensuring that the girls and I still have a great life. Dan’s death and the death of my brother, aunt and close friends has been life altering but I am determined that my grief (which is ever present and will be with me always) will not define me, my children or my family. I just said to my mother last weekend at a family lunch that I am so proud of our extended family. Despite all the loss and sadness we have experienced, we still laugh a lot, are incredibly close and genuinely enjoy each others company. We know that even though we may disagree (even fight – siblings never really grow up!), we are all deeply loved. I am also really fortunate to have good friends. I am very comfortable with being single and enjoying the company of my friends and, in many cases, my relationships with my friends are far richer and deeper.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

This is such a hard question to answer as each persons journey is unique to them. A dear friend lost her husband (a great mate of Dan’s) a year after I lost Dan and I remember feeling at a complete loss as to how to help her and what to say to her. I don’t feel courageous at all. I feel like all I do is put one foot in front of the other, and yet I have become aware that other people use words like ‘resilient’ and ‘courageous’ about me. I feel like I have to summon courage but I don’t feel like I am courageous. I do however, feel like I’ve picked up some ‘Helpful Tips and Tricks for Surviving Grief’ (tips for baking the perfect sponge cake would have been better) and as a teacher librarian, I have spent my career curating information for others, which I think is part of the reason I have blogged about grief so often. I did a post recently about ‘what I have learnt’ and I hope that this is something I can use in the future when people ask me ‘how do I cope with such loss’. You can find it here https://childrensbooksdaily.com/two-years-is-such-a-very-short-time/

 

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Another hard question! You do not know what you can face until you face it. When my brother died I felt that this would be the very worst time I would ever experience…fast forward to two more family deaths and I know now that courage just takes over your being and pulls you through the hottest of flames. Courage for the big things in life is not really something I want to draw upon anytime soon; quite frankly, I worry my lifetime quota of courage may be running low! I would like to now live a really non-eventful life and I would dearly love to know what it is like to feel bored, even just for a short time. I hope to feel courage in the everyday things – like trying something new, breaking a bad habits sampling a new reading genre or learning how one parents tweens and teens (oh my glory).

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

I’m not going to tell you to ‘take care of yourself’ or ‘find time for you’ because I’ve wanted the punch in the noses of people who have said this to me. My message is a little more realistic, in my mind anyway!

As much as possible, steer your own path and be in control of decision making and navigating the journey from tough times to ‘being okay’ times. Sometimes life takes over and all you can do is carefully and consciously walk the tightrope through the darkness. But I promise you, that in darkness there are always moments of light – even if they only start out as tiny pinpricks of light.

 

Thank you Megan. I am in awe of your strength to carry on even though I know many times, that IS the last thing you want to do.

Denyse.

Lifeline: 13 11 14.

 

 

 

Social Media:

www.childrensbooksdaily.com

Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/ChildrensBooksDaily

Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/daleyreads

Instagram URL: http://instagram.com/childrensbooksdaily

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Gratitude. 31/51. #LifeThisWeek. 83/2019.

Gratitude. 31/51. #LifeThisWeek. 83/2019.

If you’ve read here for a while, then you will know I have posted about gratitude a few times, there are two here and here.

I truly have to remember gratitude more…especially at times which begin to ensnare themselves into my default negative. So, without further ado is more….

in photos and some words about:

 

G R A T I T U D E. 

  1. spaces in nature to go for contemplation
  2. family: our daughter  & her 3 adult kids
  3. us with our daughter (HB to her for tomorrow)
  4. my health professionals keeping me well after head and neck cancer
  5. double shot latte, small: daily treat (and need!)
  6. wed since Jan 1971. love is all we need.
  7. mandalas & my creative arts
  8. family: our son’s 4 kids.
  9. the ocean. always.

 

More about gratitude:

Family. Nothing better. Daughter’s youngest in this one!

 

Two years of amazing, though challenging, recovery from head and neck cancer.

 

 

I know when I need to go here more…and that starts this week!

 

 

Recently I found this small book at Big W and it has bite-sized very useful sections to read and consider. This from ‘gratitude’

I’ve suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened. Mark Twain.

The mind is like a torch, shining on either the sorrows or the joys, the problems or solutions in our life. Fortunately we hold the  torch and get to choose where to shine it. Gratitude is not just a state of being. It’s a habit. And like any habit, it requires training. When we train our mind to dwell in gratitude regularly we will also dwell in peace.

 

I do need to express gratitude more regularly but this was a start last week.

 

 

This is my home screen locked. I may not remember to write 3 things I am grateful for but it is a reminder to be grateful.

 

 

Message on the sand from me to me and others who pass by.

 

 

28 women have shared or are yet to share their stories! How grateful I am for them. Thank you all.

 

Many of us who are bloggers and on social media are always up for a catch-up in real life when possible and on the weekend I was delighted to do this for the third time with the amazing and friendly Sanch who blogs here. Thank you for a great morning!

 

Do you practise gratitude?

How do you do this?

Share in comments if you are up for it!

Denyse.

 

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next week’s link up: 32/51 What Makes You Laugh? 12/8/19

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Women of Courage Series. #11. Kirsten. 82/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #11. Kirsten. 82/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

Welcome to Kirsten’s story. She is 46. Kirsten first connected with me via her generosity when I was sent a gift pack from a group of friends after my big cancer surgery. Kirsten has continued to be a great social media friend too. Here’s her story.

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

In 2015 I was diagnosed with a rare condition called idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) It’s a condition I’d never heard of before and it’s one that mimics a brain tumour in terms of symptoms. I was losing my eye sight, suffering from facial numbness, balance issues and migraines prior to my diagnose. I had no idea when I was diagnosed just how courageous I would need to be to fight it.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

It changed me – and my family – completely. I had no idea I was such a determined person prior to my diagnosis. It took me two years to shove my symptoms into remission and the medication I had to take to help make this happen knocked me flat for the first year. But I was determined to beat it. I was also determined to keep life as ‘normal’ as possible for our two kids. I got up every morning, made lunches, took them to school, came home and slept or rested until it was time to pick them up from school in the afternoon. Some afternoons I was so nauseous I’d take a bucket with me in the car – I had a lovely decorative tin bucket in our pantry (I used to use it as an ice bucket when if we had a party) and that was the bucket I’d use. When the kids saw it in the car, I would just tell them I’d lent it to someone for a party and keep forgetting to take it out of the car. It makes me laugh now, thinking of that tin bucket rolling around in the front seat of the car just in case I needed to use it!

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

I’ve learned that when it comes to your health – and life in general – you are your only advocate. You can have all the specialists in the world looking after you, but you are the only one who can actually help you. I followed my neurologist, opthalmologist and endocrinologists advice to the letter. I went to every six weekly appointment with each of them for 2 years and did exactly what they told me I needed to do to beat this thing. But I also questioned them when I wasn’t happy with how things were progressing. I asked for more information, I wanted to understand. I tackled this thing head on.

And honestly?At the time I didn’t even know that’s what I was doing. It wasn’t until I was given the great news that I was in remission that I really thought about what I’d done to get to that point. And I guess that’s what courage is to me – pushing through the darkness until you’ve achieved what needs to be done.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

I think I’m really good at slipping into old habits! Sometimes old thoughts of self doubt surface and I feel anything but courageous. But I’m definitely more aware of how capable I actually am.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

There’s always a silver lining to every situation. Good, bad, happy sad – the silver lining is always there. Sometimes it just takes a while for it to show up. But when it does, you’ll feel so grateful for not being where or who you were.

 

Thank you Kirsten for such an amazing story of recovery. You inspire me to continue to keep plugging away as part of my own recovery in becoming more active!

Denyse.

 

 

Blog/Website: https://bettyquette.com.au and https://kirstenandco.com

Facebook Page (not personal account): facebook.com/bettyquette

 facebook.com/kirstenandco

Instagram: instagram.com/bettyquette    instagram.com/kirstenandco

It is so good to see Kirsten doing well. Something I am adding now is that there is a great line of oils that she and her husband have developed and now sell. I was fortunate to be given some and latterly I have bought the body oil and lip balm. First known as Skin Boss, it is now Bettyquette. Here’s what some of the products look like….I love her generosity of spirit!

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Share Your Snaps #6. 30/51*. #LifeThisWeek. 81/2019.

Share Your Snaps #6. 30/51*. #LifeThisWeek. 81/2019.

*The World Head & Neck Cancer Day and Soup For the Soul Version 2019.

Every 5 weeks here, there is a photo-based post called “Share Your Snaps.” I sometimes need to add words…that’s me. This time around I am letting the photos tell the story of World Head and Neck Cancer Day and Beyond Five’s Fundraiser: Soup for the Soul.

July 2019.

July has been chosen internationally (since 2015 I believe) to have one date noted as “World Head and Neck Cancer Day” 27.7.19. Like most ‘events’ health-wise, this one has an origin in the U.S. and the colours for Head and Neck cancer internationally are maroon (burgundy) and cream. In Australia those who follow Queensland in State of Origin would be impressed. Moving on.

The only charity devoted to Head and Neck cancer awareness in Australia is Beyond Five. Regular readers will know as a head and neck cancer patient I was keen to help share information about this little-known cancer and late in 2018 I was invited to become a volunteer Ambassador. I have written more here.

How did this July go?

I held a virtual Soup for the Soul event which raised $355. $385 as of time of publication! Thank you all.

My Soup for the Soul

I promoted Soup for the Soul via social media and there was also a ‘real event’ at the Central Coast Cancer Centre: hosted by the centre and the head and neck support group with donations of soup, rolls, the space in which to hold the event, prizes we got as donations for a raffle and my tiny cupcakes were sold. There were quite a few of our group there and here we are. FYI, in this photo there are 7 of us with head and neck cancer.

Some snaps from the day.

Beyond Five Information Sharing.

Promotion of WHNCD and Soup for The Soul via My Local M.P.

Last year, the Federal M.P. for Dobell, our area, Emma McBride kindly came to our place to meet with me to hear more about head and neck cancer and to support Soup for the Soul.

July 2018.

From time to time, I have kept Emma apprised on my progress, and recently wrote to her about this year’s event. She was able to meet with me, on the ACTUAL World Head and Neck Cancer Day to both offer her support and then share via social media. Emma and I also discussed the importance of carers and she is now the shadow minister for carers and mental health. Thank you Emma and also Jacqui for organising this!

July 2019.

What Next?

I admit I need a little break from all things head and neck cancer but then again, how I would do that when it is part of me, I am not sure!!

I am making a walk each day my focus and I am getting back to noticing nature and of course, the dressing with purpose and going for a coffee EVERY day remains essential to my wellbeing.

How do you go looking after yourself after an intense time of busy-ness?

Denyse.

 

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next week’s link up: 31/51 Gratitude 5/8/19

 

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