Tuesday 16th October 2018

Bye to 2017. #LifeThisWeek. 1/52. 2018.1.

Bye to 2017. #LifeThisWeek. 1/52. 2018.1.

It’s New Year’s Day 2018 and for me, I need to move slowly into the new year before I let go of the old as I need to reflect and comment as I do. Some years we are so glad to see the back of, and others we may be holding on for as long as we can. In my case, I am in the middle as far as 2017 is concerned as its lessons taught to me have taken me further than I ever might have gone without those lessons.

Being the teacher and liking things to be done in an orderly fashion, I am going to approach this post month by month. Hold on, here we go.

Oh and it’s long. As usual I have a lot to say and photos to match. Grab a cuppa! Cheers and Happy New Year!

JANUARY 2017.

Memories of making a ‘word’ for the year: Kindness and deciding each week to have an intention as a direction in my life started 2017. I had begun the month on  a personal level at high anxiety status, and typically of me, wanted to do more to help myself. The ways in which I chose were not that helpful as I resisted (thanks brain!) strongly and ended up being stuck. Not helpful. In fact, harmful to my emotional health too. My mouth and gums were sore. Often. Visits, under difficulty for me thanks to stress/IBS, were made to my dentist and a periodontist in the hope that my mouth would be better after deep cleaning.

FEBRUARY 2017.

On the blog it was a great start with #LifeThisWeek link up and I was posting quite often each week. Over time, however, I know this was not sustainable and as different events in my personal and family life impacted me, I knew that I needed to self-care moreI completed my first #takingstock and it was replete with more negatives than positives which is a portent to what I was experiencing. Knowledge of a  family crisis impacted my physical and emotional health. I cannot share this news but to someone who feels her emotions it was a big shock to my system. Over the year as it has gone on, my responses to this have eased.

MARCH 2017.

If there is a way to try to explain what I know I was going through emotionally whilst trying to live intellectually then I would. Suffice is to say, that this month, as in the previous ones and back into 2016 I kept trying to discover not only what made me tick but to seek out people who could help me be a better friend to myself. I listened to a lot of people and found their philosophy on life simpleaccept what cannot be changed and that life is suffering. Simple to write but hard for me to practise.

Luckily I had have a very patient listener and teacher, my husband and his words always repeated: stay in the present. And all the while, my IBS was prominent, I could not leave the house for long. I certainly could not visit my father in Sydney. I was in so many ways stuck. Oh. And my mouth hurt. A LOT. So much so that I finally got the dentist to agree to taking my front teeth which were attached to a bridge in April. Before we go there, here is what I wrote about the first 3 months of 2017.

APRIL 2017.

For those who have read my blog and updates you may already realise the significance of what I was able to achieve, despite being fearful and unsure, in April. I had been told way back in January that for me to gain further skills in being able to take my thoughts  and challenge them by actions I would need to do some exposure challenges as I re-framed them. In other words, being dead scared of doing something can be fear-based and have no connection to the reality of the situation but still we can STOP ourselves by thinking the brain is right. By early April my mouth was painful all the time, it smelled and I had troubles even getting to the doctor I had found in 2015 at Wamberal. I knew I needed to do something and bravely I DID.

With the help of my husband who had already found us an amazing GP only 5 minutes from home who began his first consultation with me telling me he could help me with some meds for IBS. Wow. As arranged in March, on 6 April, I was the passenger on valium and some immodium to reassure me I would be OK, in the car when my husband took me to our dentist some 20 minutes away and I bravely (with 2 mini-breaks) had the painful bridge and teeth removed. The healing time took ages but the deed was done. I had done this. I later was able to drive myself to subsequent check-ups….and best of all for my confidence, to see Dad in Sydney. Go me! And I posted this.

MAY 2017.

I started this month with some trepidation about the continued state of growth in my gums so visits to my GP for the last time saw her GASP at the sight of them and promptly order CT and X-rays….and to the dentist the next day in early May for his opinion which was “biopsy asap” and the next day (Friday before Mother’s Day) for that to occur at the oral surgeon’s place on the same day as the scans etc. Phew, I thought the Monday after Mother’s Day when I was told all was clear.

Then…..it was the phone call no-one wants to take…..the news from the further investigation by the pathology team that squamous cell carcinoma was found in the gums. I have written about that here. From that day it was FULL-ON with trips to Sydney to see the Surgical team at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and to Westmead to the specialist dentist who would assist in my mouth re-construction over time. To say my exposure therapy was tested is no exaggeration! My GP and my dear husband did all of the supportive things they could but in the end it WAS up to me and through my tears and fears I managed!

JUNE 2017.

After the shock of May’s news, this month was surprisingly quiet but there was always an undertone of tension, anticipation and wonder about what the surgery ahead might mean and my future after cancer. We had visits from our family in Sydney and that was special as we had not seen some of our grandchildren for almost a year. I did find the most amazing support from  my blogging community and facebook friends both met IRL and those not. The outpouring of care for and about me was overwhelming at times but always appreciated.

I took myself out and about when I could knowing there would be few chances for independence once a surgery date was set. I also did some reluctant shopping (because of the reason!) for undies and nighties. I made meals in batches to help me eat once I could again. I went to my GP and psychologist who both told me they believed I was managing my emotional health well. My husband of course, helped me in so many of the not-so-good times. There were a LOT of tears and fears!

JULY 2017.

The month it all happened. I did wonder IF it ever would ….the major surgery I mean as it was a wait of 7 weeks. In the meantime the associate professor was happy to answer my MANY questions via email. This was because in the 2.5 hours consultation and planning for surgery appointment ONE day after learning I had cancer I could not think of anything then as I was processing what on earth it would be like to have this surgery AND to spend time in ICU and have 10-14 days in hospital.

The photos below and captions tell the story of July. Some of it anyway. I did have 11 hours under a anaesthetic and only 3 days in ICU but it took a toll on me mentally so I could not even add comments on IG and I certainly did not blog for two weeks. I wrote here and here for those who did not read the posts then.

AUGUST 2017.

My recovery time at home was mostly unremarkable as they say but that does not mean there were no times of a bit of anxiety as I feared any sign I may not be recovering according to the doctors’ predictions. At the end of July we went back to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for a post-surgery check up where I learned that whilst my cancer had been found in the jawbone it was the head of the team’s opinion that the cancer was gone and no follow-up treatment such as radiotherapy was needed. This was GOOD news but of course I needed to remember that TIME for healing from this surgery and needing more surgeries for mouth reconstruction were ahead.

My right leg, which was the place that gave my upper mouth bones and flesh needed regular treatment and care by the community nursing service. My leg was sore and it was hard to stand or walk much but I am a determined person and made sure I did what I was told but also had some initiative. Blogging sustained me and gave me connections to the world outside I loved. I blogged about my reflections about having cancer. Here and here. By the end of August my right leg no longer needed the boot and I was able to drive. I would still need covering of the wounds for showering and fewer visits by the nurse into September. Full independence was on the horizon!

SEPTEMBER 2017.

This was a GOOD month where my new normal became more aligned with my needs and wants. I had greater independence and by mid-September my leg wounds were so well-healed the community nurse visits stopped. I got the green light to have a shower without covering my leg wounds sometime later. I became completely independent in meeting my meals needs rather than my husband helping out. I made many mini-meals of foods I could eat for the freezer and me! This blog’s Monday link up turned one.

My GP continued to encourage me in my recovery when I had some moments of doubt and needed some professional advice. Needing to face my worries and fears I used my skills in exposure training to drive to Sydney, solo in my red car, in mid-September to see my Dad at Dee Why. He was amazed at my recovery and my appearance did not bother him at all. Maybe this is just me, I think. I had been sending him updates with photos and blog posts too along with chatting regularly. This month was when I returned to the beach to dip my toes in again. Marvellous!!

OCTOBER 2017.

Moving into this month with the beginning of the 6 months of daylight saving. I don’t mind it but I liked it better when it was for 4 months. I blogged about this and many other topics of course but also slowed down the number of posts per week in keeping with the the fewer numbers of link ups. Enjoyed linking up each week with Kylie Purtell for I Blog On Tuesdays, Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit, Kell from All Mum Said andAlicia from One Mother Hen . The blogging community is a very caring one and I have been delighted to make IRL and on-line friends there!

My link-up will continue in 2018 with each 5 weeks being photography-centred. Had one visit to my professor at Lifehouse for my first 3 month cancer check and to tell me there would be a second surgery in November. Bring it on, I say! Good friends from the last school I worked at visited me for lunch and it was wonderful to see them again.

NOVEMBER 2017.

I had been unwell from the end of October until early November with a nasty flu-like virus that was not the flu. So it kept me quiet and at home as I recovered. I must admit I was not the most patient patient as I had enjoyed my newly regenerated independence. Nevertheless I recovered to visit the specialist dentist in Westmead in preparation for the second surgery and then on 15 November we left home at 6.00 am for me to have day surgery that morning. It went for 2 hours and adjusted the free flap to expose the implants and add some skin from my right thigh into the area as well as abutments to my implants. Whilst I came home on the same day, the new ‘moving things around in my mouth and stitching them in’ hurt more over time and slowed the ways in which I could eat.

I kept myself distracted as much as I could and it was within November & into the next month that found myself again in terms of physical care and outward appearance. I continued to post photos everyday of what I wore and had fun choosing the clothes (and buying some new ones!) and accessories. I no longer saw myself as OLD, FAT and  having CANCER. I saw myself as many others do, through the eyes of pride, love and achievement and it was a game-changer. Turning 68 I donned a dress for the first time in 15 years and we celebrated my birth with a cake I could eat in the company of our eldest granddaughter.

DECEMBER 2017.

Almost the end of the year as I write and this will be published on the first day of the NEW year. This month has been one for reflection and for me to consider the many changes I have made for myself. I can say it has been on some levels harder than I imagined to deal with my anxiety and IBS but also easier in some ways to manage the news that cancer was found and what I had to do to recover from it. Determined person I am, I have been getting on with life and taking myself out for a coffee each day somewhere different in each week. I am finding I am good at finding bargains in the clothing department. I drove to Sydney to see my Dad and brother and that was good.

I am finally, as I wrote here, admitting all that was challenging me in my life as a fat person. One big event for me was to attend our granddaughter’s 21st in Sydney. Back in January I felt my anxiety was too high for me to manage such a trip, but I did with NO problems and the bonus was seeing each of our 8 grandchildren. I have missed this contact with one side of our family and it made my day to see them. I sure hope we get to do more of this as 2018 unfolds. We had a quiet Christmas Day as we expected. Then our 3 oldest ones visited for morning tea and my specialty of cupcakes were back on the menu.

ALL-YEAR ROUND……

The depth of love and appreciation I have for my husband of almost 47 years can barely be measured. He has endured calmly as I suffered almost crippling anxiety and fear even though he knew what I could do, I did not believe it for quite some time as I said earlier. His patience is beyond anyone’s I know. He is my best friend, my rock and the most loving person who, despite his discomfort and pain from physical ailments always finds time to help me and encourage me. His strength and wisdom and downright practicality cannot be underestimated in the recovery process for me. Thank you to my husband. Sending all love your way as always. Denyse xxxx P.S. He is my IG photographer for my every day style too! Love him for this especially!!

Well, if you read this far! Thank YOU for your interest and support. It did take me a few days to write and in turn it helped me recognise the significance of 2017 for me. So, the first post for 2018 is up. And the first link up for #lifethisweek is open.

I welcome you and hope that you continue to join in the link up each Monday! It stays open from Monday 5.00 a.m. until Wednesday at 5.00 pm (previously it was Thursday). On or off prompt posts are welcome as are old or new ones. The list for the first 10 weeks is on the home page here.

Denyse.

This post will also be added to Leanne’s Lovin’ Life Linky on Thursday.

#LifeThisWeek. 1/52. 2018.

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 Optional Prompt: Word or Intention for 2018. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. *phew* what a year. And what a lot of reflection (you’re better than me, I can hardly remember back to October). You’ve been through so many ups and downs this year Denyse, but the thing that really sticks out to me is your resilience. You did what you had to do to get through some pretty awful moments, by remembering to cut yourself some slack. And your husband is a gem. I think we’d all be so very lucky to have partners as supportive and lovely as your husband.
    Here’s to a better 2018 Denyse. It’s still 2017 where I am, and the thought of doing so much soul searching is a little exhausting to me. I’ll think about the good things and the people who’ve been such great friends and who’ve done so much for me. But I’ll just be content to forget about the rest. xx

    • Happy New Year to you! Thank you for your thoughtful and caring comment. Yes I can see that I have had resilience but I certainly learned it in so many ways and I guess that is the nub of it. Continuing to do the things we may not want to do but we have to helps raise our levels of confidence and resilience.
      Writing this post was over several days. It was the only way to manage it as I too felt overwhelmed at the notion but also knew that in doing it, I would in some ways heal even more and have it set out in front of me what last year was like.
      I printed a copy off and sent to my Dad as he is always interested in what I write.
      Thanks for being such a caring and loyal friend!
      Take care, Denyse xx

  2. What a year Denyse (and what a great summary). It certainly wasn’t the year you were expecting when you rang in 2017 12 months ago, that’s for sure. But you got through to the other side. We all did – and for that, we can be grateful. xoxo

    • It was that indeed! As it was for you and yours. I found writing it helped me seal some of the experiences and put them back in perspective. I took a number of days to write this and that helped me too.

      Yes we are all into 2018 already and even though none of us knows what it will bring, we remain grateful for what was and is.

      Happy New Year to you and your lovely family.
      Denyse x

  3. What a roller coaster of a year you’ve had Denyse! You are so lucky to have such an amazing and supportive husband. Together I suspect you two would be able to cope with absolutely anything! Here’s hoping that 2018 is smoother sailing for the both of you.
    Ingrid

    • Thank you so much Ingrid.

      Yes it sure has been a roller coaster. We are good for each other as we are best friends but also total opposites in many ways. My husband had many years of ill-health in different decades of our marriage and I know then I used my inner strength and courage to support him.

      Life does take us on quite the journey!
      Have a wonderful 2018!
      Denyse s

  4. Wow Denyse – it sure has been a very BIG and challenging year for you! You have amazed and inspired me with how you have managed it though. You should be very proud of yourself. I am SO glad you have the support and love of your fabulous husband and family and of course all your friends IRL and online. I hope that 2018 is a less confronting year and very rewarding and happy for you! Happy New Year! xoxo

    • Thank you very much Min. I have been buoyed in so many ways by my on-line friends and blogging is just such a friendly and inclusive space for us!

      You too have had quite a year so go gently and positively into 2018.

      Your support and kindly words have been very much appreciated by me.

      I must say though, I have pool envy when I see your pics! So reminds me of what we had too. Sigh.
      Happy New Year.
      Denyse x

  5. Happy New Year, Denyse. It’s been quite a year for you and I am so glad that you have ended the year healthy and in good spirits!

    Looking forward to #LTW 2018 – the early topics have been very thought provoking for me.

    SSG xxx

    • Thank you for your kind words and well-wishes!

      You have a big year coming up as your little one becomes a school boy and a new world opens for him and you.

      Thanks for your support of this link-up. I did have last year’s prompts next to me to avoid duplication but in case I do it again, let me know!!

      Happy first day of 2018.
      Denyse x

  6. What an amazing year Denyse…. so many challenges but you’ve overcome each and every one of them and here you are…. ready for 2018 and I love that you’ve really done some critical thinking and even talked about your weight and other things. The overthinker (and over-analyser) in me LOVES that and it’s a reminder that there’s always time to learn new things about ourselves or uncover past hurts or lessons and continue to grow.

    And I know that sounds kinda wanky but it’s a new year so my quota of navel-gazing has been reset to zero and I can start afresh in 2018. xx

    • Thank you so much for your insightful comment.

      I guess with all I have been through in the past 12 months (and before) I found that there is no point holding stuff back and in fact the writing of the weight post was helpful for me most of all.

      Interestingly though I don’t think the negative talker inside me is quite done with me about my weight so I am learning to push her back in her place. I am still looking for some foods for comfort and realise that it no longer works. It is like I am observing myself and commenting back. That is a step up from giving myself negative feedback!

      Here’s to you having your best year ever….and travel is on the horizon too! Go Deb!
      Denyse x

  7. You’ve had one heck of a year! It’s been so challenging as we know and it’s amazing how you have overcome so many of those challenges. It can’t have been easy. It’s also heartwarming to see all the love you receive and the support from your husband in particular. I hope 2018 is kinder to you!

    P.S. My reflection post was written on Friday…hope it’s okay to link that up!

    • Happy New Year Sanch! Let’s try to catch up sometime soon too.
      Thank you for your lovely comment. I do feel that this year might be a lot less stressful. Anyway i now have those tools to deal with most things thanks to exposure therapy.

      Old post or new, on prompt or off…all posts welcomed! I trust you are having a relaxing break.

      Denyse x

  8. Well you’ve certainly had a VERY full year Denyse! I’m sure there are a lot of things you’d have gladly skipped, but it’s often those mountains that make us stronger and richer people. I had a couple of hiccups in 2017 and will be glad to see 2018 arrive and what it brings with it. Happy New Year and I hope it is definitely a happy one and a healthy one for you xx

    • Thank you Leanne, yes 2017 is better gone now I believe too! I feel more confident approaching this year than I have for quite some time. Something to be said about not having as much to fear or be worried about.

      Your words resonated and I agree that overcoming the difficult stuff gives us strength we may not have known we had.
      Happy New Year,
      Denyse x

  9. A full rollercoaster of a year – but one that reflections are absolutely necessary in order to move through. Happy New Year to you & to your ever wonderful man. With best wishes…Jo

    • So true Jo and as I completed this post..over several days I know the reflections and time taken just in that act helped me put so much behind me.

      It has been truly great today, New Year’s Day not to feel any fear or trepidation about what is ahead.

      Loved seeing your pics on hols with your friends!

      Happy New Year,
      Denyse x

  10. What an unexpected year full of lessons, but how amazing to have made it to the other side! I look forward to following your journey in 2018.

    • Thank you Cate. Last year was the lesson-learning year for sure. I face this year with far less on my mind and much more positive approach. I think the past few years of worry and fear ending with the cancer diagnosis ended up doing me quite a few favours.

      Happy New Year!
      Denyse x

  11. What a rollercoaster of a year, Denyse! I’ve been so inspired by your strength and resilience and that really shines through in this post – especially in the last six months of the year. Wishing you and B a happy and new year filled with all good things!

    • Thank you Sammie. Yes it was almost cathartic in some ways to write this post. I did it over several days as it was quite hard recounting some of the times leading up to the cancer diagnosis.

      Still the good news is I am here. No longer there. It feels good and so far I feel positive about 2018.

      Sending New Year happy vibes to you and D and thank you for your kind support over the past 12 months.

      Denyse x

  12. You have had such a huge year Denyse. The strength and courage you have shown is so inspiring. I hope that the New Year brings you nothing but good health love and happiness xx

    • Thank YOU Beck! You have also had some pretty major obstacles to overcome and they were/are not easy ones. The car accident I am sure will be something you (and your family) will need to process more. I hope that should you need it there is some ‘talking with a professional help’ at hand.

      Happy New Year to you and yours..and let’s both hope 2018 brings some quieter and less dramatic times!

      Denyse x

  13. Wow what a year its been for you Denyse. I am glad you have such a lovely and supportive husband there for you. I hope 2018 is a brighter year for us both xx

  14. What an incredible year it’s been for you. It must have been so difficult but you’ve handled it amazingly well. You truly are an inspiration. You’ve definitely made me become aware that I need to be kinder to myself. Wishing you all the best for continued good health and self-compassion. Have a wonderful 2018! xo

    • Dear Ness, I suspect if you wrote a review of the year you were diagnosed with cancer then it would have many similarities.

      My view of you, back then, was of someone who took it in her stride, with help and support from your hub and Mum.

      You are someone I admire in the way in which you ‘bounced’ back. So, credit where credit it due I say!

      If my words are helping you be kinder to yourself then that is one good deed!

      Many thanks for your continued and loving support as always,

      Denyse xx

  15. That was one heck of a year! But you survived and came out the other side looking and feeling so much better. That is an adorable photo at the end of you and your husband. You make a gorgeous couple. 47 years eh? I expect you will be having a huge anniversary party in 3 years. I wish you a calm, happy and peaceful 2018, lovely lady xxx

    • OH thank you! What a sweetheart you are and I am so glad you linked up!!

      Happy New Year to you…and I hope that whilst the school year is a way off yet, I am sure you are looking forward to it.

      Thanks for the compliment. We are so good for each other…as we are almost total opposites!!

      We had a small family gathering for our 45th anniversary but our family is growing and also moving apart…sad to say…so I won’t anticipate any biggie for our 50th until we are closer! And I remember my parents’ 50th like it was yesterday! Time is a trickster

      Denyse x

  16. Holy Batballs Denyse – what a flipping year! I am so happy you have your beautiful hubby supporting you through all the ups and downs. I hope that the new year brings about much healing for you and good times and plenty of reasons to smile. Much much love to you.xx

    • Well dear Sonia I sure have not had the year described like that but I will take it and add it to my list!! Thank you for coming over and seeing what life has been like here. A BIG one indeed. But I am so pleased to see you are back and blogging …yay! Love to you too Denyse x

  17. Denyse, a belated happy New Year to you, and may 2018 be a lot less eventful for you than 2017. I came across you on Sue’s Sizzling group. I am also a cancer survivor, but mine seemed tame compared to your adventure! My surgeon gave me a year to live . . . . over 20 years ago! I have a website devoted to encouraging folk going through the cancer valley. If you’d ever like to write something upbeat for me, I’d love to include it in the testimony section. https://riseandsoar.com

    • Thank you Shirley and to you too. I think anytime anyone is given the news about cancer is very frightening. I know that with my diagnosis I say “It was a shock but I was not surprised”. I am grateful to ‘only need surgery’ for mine to have been eradicated. As for your news…wow. Look at you now!

      I have seen your blog and think sharing the stories is awesome.

      I am going to write more about mine when the surgeries are done (hopefully this week) and my recovery which takes much longer is also over.

      I will get back to you! Thanks once more, Denyse x