Monday 24th September 2018

Appreciation In August. #5. 2018.85.

Appreciation In August. #5. 2018.85.

Five weeks of Appreciation posts are concluding today with a list of people and businesses I wanted to share my appreciation for in my life and to spread the word to my readers and fellow bloggers. I have not been, as they say, sponsored nor paid for my post, I just tell things as they are. Enjoy!

The Big Hug Box

I first heard of the Big Hug Box and its founder, Lisa, via social media. Lisa tells her story on the website here and as a cancer survivor (from a rare cancer) she wanted to raise funds to give back to research. Lisa is a wife and an energetic Mum of 2 from Newcastle , who admired my hand-made book marks when she saw them.  I offered a suggestion of these as an inclusion in the gifts especially for those newly diagnosed with cancer & Lisa said “yes, please”. I love that my art can be made into bookmarks by me for others to use.

Thank you Lisa. I know we are yet to meet but I do know how kind and supportive you are. Lisa’s blog post about me recently.

https://thebighugbox.com/

Colour Me Well

Social media, specifically Instagram, was where I first saw the development of a colouring calendar from Sharon, at Colour Me Well. This is based on her experience as a cancer survivor where during her treatment she started making boxes on a page representing the treatment days, and colouring them to remind herself of how far she had come.

The calendar comes in a presentation box with a tin of quality pencils. Here’s my little story of becoming involved. Sharon was considering a new product, a greeting card/small gift with a message of kindness, connection and hope and she saw that a mandala would be an ideal mindful colouring pattern on the front.

I liked the idea, of course…mandalas..and set about designing specific once for Cards. Of the 6 designs available, four have been drawn by me. I have no payment for these. I did these out of love for helping others and again, of giving back!

https://www.colourmewell.com.au/

 

Fight Cancer Water Bottle

This is another venture by a cancer survivor who is Sharon too. As I watched the Instagram posts of @fightcancerwaterbottle I soon realised we lived in a similar area. When we met one day by “happy accident” this snap was taken and since then we have been out for a coffee. To read the story of this special water bottle and where the funds from one purchased ends up, it is all on the website.

https://www.fightcancerwaterbottle.com.au/

 

My Blogging Friend and C0-Owner of Skin Boss Australia is Kirsten.

Around the same time she and her husband started this unique business, I was in hospital recovering from my first BIG surgery. Via the kindness of many on a social networking group & this new business I was sent, among other items, Skin Boss Get Up and Glow and Skin Boss Sleep On It. (aren’t the names great?). To read more of the Skin Boss story…and to order some oils of your own as I have (the Body Oils were added recently ) go to the website. I did have to wait a while (some months actually) before I could regularly use the oils on my face as my skin was numb and tender. But now, it is a routine: day and night.

https://www.skinboss.com.au/

Little Blue Wren

I first heard of Jen (little blue wren) as she is a local Newcastle person helping develop products which help skin, specifically the lips. This product is part of the Big Hug Box. I also bought two of her lip balms and one sits on the desk where I am typing, the other on the desk where I create. They are lovely.

1 x Citrus and Peppermint Lip Balm – made locally here in Newcastle by Little Blue Wren. It’s blend of Citrus and Peppermint has been made with the highest quality “Young Living” Oils. (from The Big Hug Box site)

Find her products on Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/little.blue.wren_/

 

Reading This. Listening to This Book.

I was drawn to this book by Megan Devine after following her Facebook page called Refuge in Grief. Her story as both a counsellor and someone who had the love of her life die in front of her is compelling.

I know that having a cancer diagnosis can feel like a death. Of the life that was an is no more. It is not something I dwell on much as I would rather not be consumed but I do know that listening to Megan read her book (I am a car listener) had me throwing out what were my beliefs about grief.

 

Kindness of “Strangers” ….the people in my Instagram Feed...you know what I mean!

I have followed a delightful and generous woman who I will call Linda…because THAT is her name! I really cannot recall exactly “when” we started to know each other via the usual social media channels but I do know I lucked in with her as a friend. She is one of my “cheerleaders” and I love her for this more. Recently after arriving home from yet another trip to Westmead a LARGE and somewhat weighty packed was on the kitchen bench. I smiled, when I saw the sender…and then I laughed and laugh/cried when I saw the contents. An amazing and beautifully hand crafted crocheted blanket that almost covers my king-size bed…in MY favourite combination of colours AND with a mandala in the middle. Swoon. It is the BEST. As is she!

 

 

Now, as you already know, if you have come this far, that my skin has been problematic for more than a year. My lips especially. I needed something very very dense and something well-known as a salve for skin.

Lanolips was it. I messaged them and told them of my situation and within a week or so, I got some mail! I was sent three types of their product and the bigger one is used just before I go to sleep. It really really helps.

Here is where to find them: http://lanolips.com They are a wholly Australia product. On Instagram: @lanolips

Mindfulness and Meditation.

I have had more than 3 years taking time each day (or night) for some specific meditation activities. For 3 years I paid for a Headspace subscription  and with a 30 days of Cancer program found that really helpful in my early months after diagnosis. Mid year, I changed tack and now have the Calm App as my meditation (and sleep stories) as a great find. Then just last week I became a founding member of Buddhify (they have a free app too) because I wanted to have more variation and one to listening to during the day.

I have found of course, just going outside and being in nature helps as does creating but if you are looking at apps for yourself, there are 0nes I have appreciated and enjoy.

Beyond Five.

I have known about Beyond Five since my cancer diagnosis in May 2017 but I was not really in a ‘space’ to take on much of its important information about Head and Neck Cancer until I was further into my understanding of “my cancer’. Squamous cell carcinoma. More about all of that here in my page.

Back to Beyond Five, which is a charity wanting to spread the message of early and timely diagnosis of all Head and Neck Cancers. From May this year until World Head and Neck Cancer Day on 27 July 2018 Beyond Five ran its first fundraising venture called; Soup for the Soul. I joined in with a Virtual Soup for the Soul event and over $400 was raised just by that. In total, $28,000 was raised. Most work and spreading of messages is via Head and Neck cancer support groups of which I am a member as well as on social media.

Some ways in which I appreciate the work is to tell more people of its purpose, including meeting my Federal MP to let her know more. Find Beyond Five here: 

My Dressing With Purpose, Art Journalling and Coffee.

Long time readers and followers know that I dress, with purpose, each day (and have done, with few exceptions) for almost 10 months now. Every. Single. Day. I generally go out by myself to have a coffee somewhere locally (I am up to 17 places now!) and I take time to reflect in my art journal. I find if I do not, for any reason, get to do this on one day, I am really, really ready for it the next day. The wonderful and sharing Styling You, Nikki Parkinson, has an amazing website and blog here, recently celebrating 10 years of helping women make the most of themselves….well, that has worked for me as I often share my daily photo on the facebook group and have won a weekly prize of Nikki’s book called Unlock Your Style.

 

The best is saved for last. This person. With me.

Words are inadequate for the depth of love and appreciation I have for the man, my husband, who had held me, comforted me and told me to use my skills in re-framing my thoughts and oh-so-much more…and who kind of forgives me for not measuring up to his cleaning standards…especially in the kitchen! 

This is the first photo of us…for a LONG while…where I can smile fully and it was taken by our 6 year old granddaughter on Sunday. Thank you Miss E.

Who or what are you appreciating today?

Denyse.

Joining here with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky.

 

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Appreciation In August. #4. 2018.80.

Appreciation in August. #4. 2018.80.

This post is short on words…but long on gratitude and appreciation.

This collage represents much of my cancer story: from diagnosis in mid May 2017 through to adjusting to the notion I had cancer …then surgeries…four in all…and recoveries…and 21 visits (and more to come) to the prosthodontist at Westmead as of Tuesday 21 August 2018..

 

But it’s been a BIG news week for me and I wanted to share (via two little vids) how I was on the day before my new upper teeth were added to my gums/jaw (remember, they came from my right leg) and then the day after….

It is for me as much as anyone as we cannot always notice our own progress which is why I made these.

 

And then….my set of upper teeth (prosthesis) was attached (screwed in) to the abutments in my jaw (thank you fibula) on Tuesday 21 August 2018. For 412 days I had no upper teeth!  Here I am talking….cannot stop me…24 hours later!

 

Thank you to all who have commented, read my posts and supported me in so many ways that I cannot count.

I appreciate each and every one of you.

You are my cheerleaders!

Denyse.

Thank YOU Each & Every One of YOU.

Joining with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky and Leanne knows all about the value of cheerleaders!

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Appreciation In August. #3. 2018.76.

Appreciation In August. #3. 2018.76.

My Alphabet of Appreciation FOR FOOD This Week in August 2018.

Some readers know that I have been without any teeth on top since my cancer diagnosis in May 2017 and after radical surgery in July 2017 a whole new inner /upper mouth was created and once I got home after 10 days, I needed to learn how to feed me. So much is attached to food: texture, tastes, preferences for savoury or sweet, crunchy food or smooth but I have been limited. Very much. It has been a big lesson for me in patience, creativity, adapting and making the best I can of the reason I had to do this hard work – cancer. The list here is all of the foods I have been able to eat. Often they are not in quantities I may have consumed pre-surgery as my mouth gets tired (and I get bored) with some food rolling around in my mouth for ages.

In a week or so, I will have had new top teeth added and I have no idea (yet) how this will be. This for now, is all I appreciate that I have been able to eat for the past 14 months.

A.

  • avocado – in all manner of way: by itself and added to dishes.
  • apple: I have tried many times with apple – grated but it is too hard to get it swallowed as I cannot (yet) chew.

B.

  • bread – no crusts but can eat white or wholemeal as a sandwich, or small pieces into soup
  • biscuits – dipping ones: malt, orange creams, plain biscuits. I have tried “choc covered’ ones: messy! I miss savoury biscuits as I cannot bite nor crunch
  • butter – my preferred spread and it is needed to help food like bread go down
  • beef casserole with chuck steak cooked all day – meat melts in my mouth

C.

  • cake – my homemade cupcakes with icing and those from my friend Kyla’s shop
  • coffee – double shot latte when I go out, and I keep a range of packet coffee mixes here
  • crumpets – can be cut into 4 and spread with butter and honey, I can pop the soft part in my mouth and leave crust
  • cheese – kraft blue box cheddar, tasty grated cheese and parmesan grated
  • carrot – cooked and then blended and added to bol sauce, soups
  • chicken noodle soup
  • chicken mince made into sweet and sour dishes
  • chicken cubes cooked and made into a casserole with cream of chicken soup

D.

  • dairy milk chocolate

E.

  • egg (scrambled only) with C for chutney on B for buttered T for toast

Some photos of some selections of the foods I ate in the early days. 

F.

  • fish – in the form of S for salmon in tins & smoked salmon in small pieces for lunch in summer
  • fruit – very limited. See P for pear, M for mango
  • fillet steak – cooked medium, and cut finely, with some sauce for flavour, added to 2 min noodles.

G.

  • grains – nope. They stick in places in my mouth and cannot escape.

H.

  • healthy choices. I make as many of these as I can each day knowing how much my recovery and wellness needs.
  • honey : good with plain yoghurt when I first came home from hospital last year
  • spread on crumpets

I. 

  • iodised salt is a daily condiment to aid flavour since I think my taste buds are slightly changed
  • ice-cream. Not a huge fan but it soothes my mouth after surgery and vanilla is my go-to.

J.

  • jelly. Oh so much jelly when I first recovered after major surgery and sometimes cooling and soothing after smaller surgeries. In a little container. Sometimes with I for ice-cream.
  • jam. Adding some flavour to a toasted muffin. See M for Muffin and how this is eaten.

K.

  • kale K for kidding. I can eat NO  leafy veges or salad other than what I list elsewhere

More foods from my challenging eating days. Imagination and creativity helps me with meals.

L. 

  • lettuce in teensy tiny cut up pieces added to my taco bowl or a sandwich with vegemite and cheese

M.

  • mango – could eat cut up in a bowl using a spoon. It was a great addition to lunch in Summer.
  • minced meat. How I learned to love you and cook with you for me:
  • minced beef: spag bol, savoury mince, taco mince
  • minced chicken: as above
  • minced lamb combined with the minced beef has made the best savoury mince to date
  • minced pork: a version of san box choy – just the seasoning, and the mince and on some 2 minute noodles
  • muffin: toasted white one: I can spread jam on a buttered one, cut into quarters and eat the middle part, leaving edge
  • milk: in coffee and tea and on my breakfast every day. Before the first surgery I was not a fan of cereal and milk and now I am. See W for Weetbix.

N.

  • noodles – see above: 2 Minute Chicken Noodles added to meat dishes. I have to cut the noodles with scissors before eating so I don’t choke on a long thread!

O.

  • oranges – cut and squeezed and drinking their juice

P.

  • pasta – the spaghetti variety – cut up and sometimes tube one – but needed to be well-cut for swallowing
  • pumpkin soup – over it. So over it. Yet because it “is” a vegetable and healthy I had made and eaten this a lot.
  • potatoes –  as long as they are  mashed and buttered they went down well on top of my savoury mince.
  • pikelets: these are great with some butter and a spread. Warmed even more so.
  • peanut butter: sometimes on bread and sometimes on a toasted muffin.

 Q.

  • nothing comes to mind for Q.

R.

  • roast lamb dinner. Ok. Three times my dear husband cooked this and it was delightful, drowned in gravy and with burnt baked pumpkin and potatoes
  • rice. Oh how I have used rice: white: fried: and it is a staple that I can generally ‘get down’ with a meat/fish in some kind of sauce.

Meals and more meals. Dinner was easier than lunch often. 

S.

  • sweet potatoes have been good, blended with regular potato and added to meat dishes as well as soups
  • soups. I know they are good for the body and soul. I made many: chicken and veggies, ham hock and veggies and each was blended and frozen for future consumption. I have a range of packet soups on hard always. I can only eat (and have always preferred) a thinnish soup. Not thick at all.
  • sweets. I can eat some very soft sweets: this has been in recent months: milk bottles, strawberries & cream, pineapples.
  • sandwiches. I know that they are hard to get down but I do because I missed bread. So, the fillings – spreads or cheese or salmon need some butter or condiments and then I cut off all the crusts, and then the sandwich into cubes. I can now get down 8 rectangles. Before the past month or so it was 16 squares. Takes ages to eat.

T.

  • tomato condensed soup from Rosella in the can, with milk added is a comfort food from childhood and it gets a run regularly.
  • tomatoes. I long(ed) for the taste of tomatoes but their skin made eating impossible. Lately though, I have bought small vine grown ones, and I cut out the middle with seeds and juice and that goes on a taco or even a crumpet for a savoury taste
  • tacos came about when I was looking for NEW tastes. I make up the taco mince with the powder and freeze the cooked portions, making myself ‘taco in a bowl’ with added: tomato & lettuce (see above), tasty cheese, avocado, lite sour cream.
  • tea: cups of …and often with biscuits I can dunk.
  • toast…is eaten rarely but I have tried it in very small squares with some creamed corn on top and eaten with a spoon as well as with scrambled egg.

U.

  • unhealthy but delicious at times: treats that I “can” eat when I am out: bits of donut edges, some cakes with no nuts and some icing, a part of a scone with jam & cream. Chocolate: including latest I can eat: freckles.

V.

  • variety is what I try to have but it can be V for very hard some days and I just retreat to ‘old faves’.
  • very good advice from the dietitian before I left hospital in July 2017 was to aim for enjoyment AND nutrition in my meals and snacks and I do remember that often.

W.

  • water. I always have water near me and particularly when eating. I have not choked but water is a good lubrication in my mouth anyway so I have sips and swigs during my meal
  • weetbix. Who knew? Before surgeries for cancer I rarely ate cereal. For the past year it is my standard and ONLY breakfast: 2 weetbix, some sugar (oh come on, I cannot do these plain) and lite milk. And I will continue this breakfast when I have my teeth and it is a healthy one.

X.

  • of course nothing starts with X in this list but I will say taking eXtra care before attempting to eat food, and not talking as I eat (before surgery Denyse did) helps my food stay IN and then go down.

Y.

  • yellow foods: cheeses, butter, custard are dairy-based and they are part of my meals and snacks and I try to have
  • yoghurt in the fridge most weeks so when I feel like I need to be ‘virtuous’ I have some.

Z.

  • zooper doopers are always in the freezer. They are awesome post mouth surgeries but need to be cut into small, manageable pieces as I cannot suck. Seriously, not even using a straw with success. Unsure if this ability will return.

Treats have become a daily event but in limited quantities. I have remained around the same weight for the past 12 months and wish to stay that way. Increasing activity now I am very well is helping. 

 

I hope you did not get too hungry reading this!

Denyse.

Linking with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky on Thursdays here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Appreciation in August. #1. 2018.69.

Appreciation in August. #1. 2018.69.

Thanks to my readers and commenters I am continuing a more ‘on the spot’ post and perhaps adding to my stories of what I would like to share.

In line with this title: Appreciation.….Today I am thankful for:

Opportunities to share my story about my head and neck cancer diagnosis and what has followed since 17 May 2017

  • My blog has, of course, been the main way of sharing since then
  • This year a number of organisations have taken note of my blog’s purpose in keeping readers updated with my cancer treatment and progress and approached me to write a post for them or to engage a writer on my behalf.
  • Both versions occurred: Here with Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.…and Here with Beyond Five and most recently here with  Cancer Aid App
  • The connections I have made on-line in groups on Facebook, for example this one and then meeting people from a local group continue to add to my knowledge of what others are doing in managing both the cancer diagnosis and treatments along with post-cancer life
  • I was approached by one newly made friend who is also a head and  neck survivor, to write about what I do each day to both be active and busy but to be mindful in my post-cancer surgery times and into the 14th month of recovery

I understand that each and every person, with a cancer diagnosis or not, will find ways in which to live their lives in semi or full retirement.

I am only one person…who has found the transition to retirement an anxious one. I have written about it here  

However, knowing it was up to ME to make things work better for me each day, I used my instincts and skills…and some creative thoughts to determine this:

The emotional impact of cancer cannot be under-stated but I have taken steps to ensure my physical and emotional health are priorities. I do this by:

  • Getting dressed each day with purpose, having a photo taken and posted on Instagram. This keeps me connected and within a routine I enjoy. Losing weight before the cancer was diagnosed and keeping it stable while recovering meant I could celebrate with buying new clothes

From 30 Oct, I did an Outfit of the Day post…now into my 10th month!

  • Taking notice of the world outside – the natural one in particular – by driving the the local beaches and walking or just taking in the scenes with all of my senses or just looking skywards and seeing the clouds and patterns. I also post a photo with #noticenaturedaily on Instagram

The week before #4 surgery

  • Creating art or designing mandalas and colouring them and making patterns to colour and decorating cards. Whatever I make I add to Instagram with #createdaily2018
  • Completed Mandala

  • Being a sociable person and meeting up with friends when I can and even if I go out alone (which I actually enjoy too) I engage in conversation with others as much as possible. I have learned long ago not to be self-conscious of ‘no teeth’ in my upper mouth.

Coffee & Morning Tea. Can only eat 1/3 of a scone out! Messy.

  • Staying interested and informed via reading newspapers, commenting on others’ blogs and generally taking an interest in the lives of those I may have met or am still to meet via social media.

I wear this to remember I AM!

That’s my Appreciation in August for this week! But before I go: on World Head and Neck Cancer Day 2018 last Friday I felt a great need to visit here and enjoy the space, sounds and more….but to also give thanks for all the beach has helped me through so much since we moved away from Sydney in 2015.

What are you thankful or grateful for this week?

Denyse.

Joining Leanne and friends here for Lovin’ Life Linky each Thursday.

My blogging friend from Ballarat is starting a first day of the month linky called Good Grateful. I think it’s always a great plan to reflect on gratitude! In fact, I AM grateful to her for rekindling old blogging friendships recently which spurred me on to making a Blog Roll on this blog!

Thanks so much Caz! Her blog is called Room For My Soul. I wish you well and will be there for sure! 

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Thank A Teacher. #LifeThisWeek 26/52. 2018.53.

Thank A Teacher. #LifeThisWeek 26/52. 2018.53.

It’s coming up to end of first semester or end of term 2 2018.  School holidays are about to commence, or have and are not far off in most states and territories of Australia. I know that folks in the Northern Hemisphere are also on the long school summer vacation.

My old Primary School: I went here and taught here for 2 practice teaching times.

There’s a saying around that ‘teachers have it so good’ :

         9.00 a.m to 3.00 p.m. It is a great career. Look, the hours AND the holidays!

 

 

 

 

 

Do you believe it?

Well, here I am to de-bunk that myth right now!

These days here’s what most teachers are up to in the so-called holidays….

  • attending professional education conferences as attendees and presenters, most often at their own costs
  • planning the work that they will be presenting as part of the beginning of Term 3 called ‘SDD’ or ‘School Development Day’
  • meeting colleagues in schools and other venues to share ideas, make programs and plan for the educational needs of the students in the schools for Term 3 and beyond
  • marking essays, projects, assignments and adding to the program requirements for the term ahead to enable kids’ best learning to occur
  • making most of the child-free environment in their classrooms/halls/libraries and faculty areas to plan, file, cover books, accession records, add information and ‘get the work’ done so that when the kids return the priority is teaching and learning
  • attending to their personal and professional development by working on their portfolios and making plans for meeting the teaching standards as per the Australian Curriculum and their Education Authority.

 

My first…and last photo! This High School was where I attended 1962-67. Then in August 2015 I re-visited and presented for the last time to a professional meeting of teachers.

  • attending Winter Residential schools as they complete their post-graduate courses or degrees. Others may be teaching at Universities which often have holidays outside school holidays.
  • volunteering to help kids in school holiday care settings & camps where they may be paid to supplement wages.
  • One person who is very close to me, completed her Masters In Education (Teacher/Librarianship) over the years during HER school holidays, taking some long service leave to finish the last semester (busy single mother with 4 differing needs’ kids) She also volunteers at a Museum in Sydney in her not-spare time.

My Graduation M.Ed & our daughter’s over 23 years later!

They also make some time, I am hopeful, for caring for themselves physically and mentally by having some time out to personal care, relax, meet with friends and spend time with family as it is important to come back to school well and ready to go and….

Term 3 here we come. but not quite yet..

Maybe when you see your child’s teacher(s) next how about saying ‘thanks!’

My very best wishes to my family and friends who are teachers.

I KNOW how much you needed the ‘break’ and how hard you work.

The ways in which to thank a teacher are many but I always loved those who took the time to tell me face to face or to write it. It was never about the gifts. Always about how I was made to feel. Appreciated.

Once a teacher, always a teacher. It’s in me. I cannot let it go but I also love that too!

End 2009 official last days as a teacher. Unsurprisingly there were a few more!

Denyse.

Joining with Alicia here for Open Slather. She is a teacher too.

Life This Week 26/52. We are HALF-WAY everyone!!

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: 27/52. Taking Stock 3. 2/7/18.


 

 

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My Head & Neck Cancer 1st Anniversary. Pt 2. 2018.46.

My Head & Neck Cancer 1st Anniversary. Pt 2. 2018.46.

I recently wrote Part One of the Anniversary of my cancer diagnosis here.

The second part is actually a bit harder to write.

I am grateful of course for my cancer being taken via surgery but I seriously had no idea that to recover and be implant-ready would be up to and well over a 12 month period. This is because, as I understand it, bodies heal in different ways and react like that too. I also know that this mouth reconstruction of mine necessitates a lot of work by the multi-disciplinary team of medical, allied health and dental experts.

I am ever-grateful for this team.

With Prof Clark & Cate Froggat, Clinical Nurse Consultant & Surgical Assistant

I know that my Professor Jonathan Clark  leads the Head & Neck team and he is also working with the training of other doctors just as he learned as a resident with the late Professor Chris O’Brien at Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital. From the Westmead Oral Sciences comes  my Prosthodonist, Dr Suhas Deshpande and his colleagues including Dr David LeinkramDr Matthew McLachlan. Dr Deshpande’s Nurse, Ofelia has seen me through some emotional times and is a very kind person. Norma at the reception desk at Westmead Oral Sciences always has a smile for me and a welcome that’s bright.

Associate Professor Ardalan Ebrahimi was the first person I saw on May 18 2017 and who examined me and put together, along with Professor Clark what would be my BIG surgery in July 2017. A/Prof Ebrahimi was kind enough to respond to my 2 detailed emails pre-surgery and saw me post-surgery in 2017 along with  Justine Oates Head and Neck  Nurse Practitioner who re-dressed my wounds and ensured continuity of care once we were back home on the Central Coast.

In my 10 days post Surgery #1, I was cared for by a number of professional nursing staff firstly in ICU with Dr Tim  then on Level 9 North of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse where Jason was the NUM. I will single out registered nurse Roan as he cared for me most early mornings and made sure I got out of bed to get some sunrise shots!

From the Head and Neck team who were part of my first surgery was a team of doctors including Dr Laura Wang & Dr Rahaul Jayaram who saw me most days in hospital.  Allied professional staff  at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse were physiotherapist Leah ensured I could walk post July surgery after fitting my right leg with the boot, dietitian Jacqueline gave me lots of guidance for eating post mouth surgery and the speech therapist Emma made me drink a cup of water (ahh!) and speak ( not a hard task given my propensity to talking!) to ensure I was going well before leaving Chris O’Brien Lifehouse last July.

I thank the wonderful anaesthetists and anaesthetic nurses who ensured not only that I went to sleep  but that I woke up with no dramas. One was Dr Murray Stoken and another is Dr Paul Goonan. On 16 May I was cared for by Dr Stephanie McInnes. 

Of course I have the excellent and fabulous Cate Froggat, my Clinical Nurse Consultant & Surgical Assistant who is the gentle and smiling person looking out for me in the operating theatre and in post-op consultations.

How could I not mention Julie and Priscilla…a hug and smile each time I see them, those who keep all of us seeing Professor Clark organised with compassion and care.

Once I was home, as I have outlined before, I was also in the care of the Central Coast Public Health Community Nursing Team for around 2 months and Eileen was amazing with her knowledge and advice.

My dentist Dr Alistair Brown saw me for a mouth check last October and to clean the remaining ((and oh so important to me) 8 bottom teeth. He was the person who initially referred me to Dr Stef Calladine, oral surgeon,  who did the biopsy last May and broke the news to me over the phone that I had squamous cell carcinoma. I will always be grateful for her caring manner and more importantly for referring me to a place I had heard of called Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and to a specialist I had not, Prof Clark.

My GP. Dr Owen Greene. What a caring and understanding man he is. I saw him sometimes up to 4 times in a week when I was recovering from BIG surgery #1. He reassured, he checked on me and he continues to do so, letting me know you are doing really well. His office staff and pathology people ask how I am going tooIf I pop into the chemist next door, Tim the pharmacist is always asking how I am going too.

There are those that I cannot mention all by name but have been integral to my diagnosis, surgeries and recovery times:

  • staff at the various Imaging places in Sydney and on the Central Coast
  • staff at the Admissions Desk and Pre-Surgery Desk at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse
  • the nursing staff pre- and post-op in the recovery areas
  • my psychologist from the READ clinic in Erina saw me a couple of times and was most kind in her assertion that I was doing well without any more need for her services.
  • the social media account for Chris O’Brien Lifehouse @chris_obrien_lifehouse & the art programs at COBLH @arterieatlifehouse (Instagram)
  • those lovely people who welcome me to their coffee shops like Randa at Fibonacci Wyong  and ask after me, along with my fabulous hairdresser Tiffany, our great podiatrist Sean who came to the house to treat me when it was easier for me, and our Property Manager, Naomi, who was delighted to see me recently. Kyla who makes the most delicious cupcakes always asks how I am going when we catch up. In fact, I won a generous voucher recently and as cupcakes are something I CAN eat, this is just the best!
  • the Beyond Five Organisation: Nadia for her reaching out for me to help with publication of my story written by Kirsty. Check my photos here to see the fundraising ribbons. World Head and Neck Cancer Day in July 27. I wear my ribbon and blog about Head and Neck cancer because not many people know about this cancer. I do now!

Then definitely NOT last nor least are my friends and family. Those who connect on-line too. My blogging friends, my instagram friends and those from Facebook and Twitter. I love connecting!  To know of so much love, concern and care being out there for me after the diagnosis and through recovery in the year it’s been is marvellous. Thank you for reading my posts, checking out my Instagram pics and ‘liking’ the blog Facebook page.

Each day in 2018 I made a commitment to myself to do at least these three each day:

  • get dressed in an #outfitoftheday and go out – for a coffee, a browse, a shop or just to look at a view
  • go into nature or observe nature and then capture this in a photo
  • make something creative, be it a mandala or a pattern or just so art fun.

I cannot single any one person out from family and friends….other than this person:

My husband. There for everything for me. Always. Love IS what keeps us together…and has done for over 47 years.

Sending everyone my love and gratitude.

Denyse.

On Tuesday this posts links with Kylie here

On Wednesday this post links with Sue and Leanne here

On Thursday this post links with Leanne here.

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Christmas Gifts To Eat. 2017.132.

Christmas Gifts To Eat. 2017.132.

In my life, Christmas HAS been about sharing of food gifts with family and friends. It was always something I did to thank people who had been part of our lives in the previous 12 months.

These may have been teachers, medical professionals. office staff, family, friends and neighbours.

I always liked the idea of a home-made special gift for others to eat and even though it was preparing, cooking and wrapping at a BUSY time of my school year, it was worth it.

The most popular of these was what I called “Orange Biscuits” but some called them “Melting Moments”. I found the recipe is an old English Woman’s Own magazine and made an adjustment to the recipe (I do that!) and made it in bulk. I would wait till the biscuits were cooled and then put two together with orange-flavoured butter icing. Once they had ‘dried’ out so the icing was stable, I would wrap EACH one is a piece of festive cellophane and then add however many would fit into glass jars. I used to keep an eye out for these over the year.

Given it was very labour-intensive, I made my last batch in the kitchen at Glenwood in 2014 and those who got them also got the recipe! I really miss eating Orange Biscuits even though in this recipe they are called Walnut Cookies. I used to add a blanched almond sliver to each of the biscuits before cooking.

Here it is: nb: the secret to the crispiness of the biscuit (I do not say cookie) is using Fairy or Tulip Margarine. Not butter. Trust me.

Christmas 2017…and what will I give people this year? Actually not doing many gifts at all as we have moved on from that. I still think a home-made treat is good and people who have followed my cancer story know I can eat cake. Not biscuits.

I have been “Queen of the Cupcakes” in the past couple of years, always having some in the freezer for us and visitors. Our granddaughter is 21 the week before Christmas and I am taking a few dozen birthday cupcakes to her 21st Picnic.

That was when I had an idea for this year’s thank yous to a few people using a Christmas theme:

cupcakes with little Christmas trees as a decoration.

So, that is my Christmas giving made. Just need to remember to take them to the people they are made for!

What do you do at Christmas for thank you gifts?

Do you make anything that is YOUR signature gift as mine became?

Share with us below in the comments.

Denyse.

I have a blog link-up each Monday called “Life This Week”. I post prompts in advance for anyone who likes to take up the prompt. Bloggers can post old or new posts, on or off prompt. In 2018 I am introducing a SHARE YOUR SNAPS prompt every 5 weeks for PHOTOS to be the stars of the show! Come on over why don’t you, each Monday!

Here are the first 10 weeks of prompts:

  • 1/52. “Bye to 2017”. 1/1/18.
  • 2/52. Word or Intention for 2018. 8/1/18.
  • 3/52. Favourite Weather. 15/1/18.
  • 4/52. What is Kindness? 22/1/18.
  • 5/52 SHARE YOUR SNAPS 1. 29/1/18.
  • 6/52. Starting School Stories. 5/2/18.
  • 7/52. Who’s a Worrier? 12/2/18.
  • 8/52. February is… 19/2/18.
  • 9/52. TAKING STOCK 1. 26/2/18
  • 10/52. SHARE YOUR SNAPS 2. 5/3/18.

Linking up on Tuesday here with Kylie for I Blog On Tuesdays and here with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky on Thursday.

 

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Today I Will. #LifeThisWeek 48/52. 2017.131.

Today I Will. #LifeThisWeek 48/52. 2017.131.

Today I will.…I wondered what I thought about when I made this prompt! It was a while back so when I re-visited it to write I decided to add in what was current for this week coming AND, by popular request, post my recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie! Oh yes….the first 10 Prompts for #LifeThisWeek 2018.

  • Drive to Sydney’s suburb of Dee Why to see my almost 94 year old father. Dad remains very well and independent and has many friends where he lives, some of whom he tells me are only a few years older than me. Thanks Dad! I cannot believe it but in checking my calendar this year there will have only been 3 trips to see him in total. I got very stressed about driving on M1 relating to my IBS back in the early part of the year and so did not go anywhere near that road. Until I had to. In fact, the first time I had to I wrote about here and it was the start of me overcoming my fears and anxiety with exposure therapy. So, Dad got his first visit for the year from me  in late April 2017. We talk on the phone each week as well. Then my life imploded with the news I had cancer…you can read about that here if you weren’t following the blog back then. The second time I drove down solo to see him was in early September and then my recent planned visit was cancelled as I had a bad virus. So…..off I go today.

The day I finally went to Sydney for the first time in almost 5 months.

  • Congratulate our daughter on her graduation from Charles Sturt University (Wagga Wagga campus)  with her Masters of Education (Teacher/Librarianship). She has spent more time doing this part-time than she ever imagined when she began the 2 year part-time course and was the Teacher-Librarian in one school until the end of 2014 and then BEGAN a brand-new school’s Library from January 2015. Family and health issues of hers and her grown kids meant she had to take some breaks from Uni (study is on-line) but for her to keep the role she loves in her school the course was to be completed. Today she graduates! We are so very proud of her achievements under difficulty and that next year she is back to school full-time and in charge of the School Library once more! She and her 4 children are attending the Graduation ceremony at Wagga Wagga on Monday at 9.30 a.m. We will be there in spirit!

 

  • Complete the cupcakes for the 21st Birthday Picnic next weekend for our eldest granddaughter who is 21 just before Christmas. We are so happy to be able to see her for her birthday and we will drive down to the park where it is all happening. This young woman has faced quite a few personal health challenges when she was diagnosed with Crohns Disease but she makes the very most of her life and as you might recall I wrote about her here and she allowed me to add her YouTube. It was an amazing and memorable day when I met you, JR, in the San, on a Monday and there you were..a beautiful little girl who would one day call me “Grandma”.

 

  • Add the recipe here for lemon meringue pie which has been  synonymous with celebration in my family from when I was a child. Once I learned to make the pie I added the variation of sometimes making it in little tartlet cases. It really IS a simple recipe but you make it to your taste in lemony-ness. I recall requesting it on special occasions and when we had all of our kids/grandkids for a meal back in the ‘living in Sydney’ days, lemon meringue pie would make an appearance. Since my mouth is severely compromised for eating I search for food ideas I can literally eat and swallow and this lemon meringue pie passes! My dad totally loves it too and will have some memories of Mum’s cooking when I take him a container of mini Lemon Meringue pies in January to celebrate his 94th Birthday!

What better way to say “Congratulations” on completing your degree KT…than Lemon Meringue Pie!

  • The Recipe: You will need 2 eggs, separated. One can of condensed milk. 2 lemons. Small amount of castor sugar. A baked pie shell. Can be your own or purchased as I did.

First: Oven should be pre-heated at around 150 degrees. It is just to help the pie ingredients mix and to get a nice brown look on the meringue.

Method:

1. Separate the eggs so that you have two yolks and two lots of egg white. I do this one egg at a time into a glass to ensure there is NO yellow in the egg white or it will not whip into meringue. I put both egg whites into a small bowl. Nearby I have my castor sugar ready.

2. Cut and squeeze the juice from two lemons. If you like a really tangy lemon, you may add a bit more juice (from a 3rd lemon) as you taste test the mix. You have to really. Leave juice in juicer. For now!

3. In a separate bowl you place the two egg yolks and the contents of the condensed milk tin. Yummo. You may lick a little bit but not the lid. Ouch. Mix with a spoon to ensure all the egg yolk is combined and add the lemon and keep mixing until it is all together. Taste test to see if ‘lemony’ enough. Leave this for now.

4. Get your electric mixer and beat the heck out of those egg whites and as they begin to combine and go lovely and smooth white, add up to 2 tabs of castor sugar gradually. To know meringue is done, when you lift the beaters, the mix should form peaks.

5. Place the lemon mix in the prepared shell. It all fits in one this size above.

6. With a tablespoon, add some of the meringue to the top of the pie so that edges are covered. It does not have to be neat!

7. Place the pie in the oven  and DO NOT go far. It does not take long for the top to get a nice bit of brown on top and then it can be removed.

8. Eat it in slices when it is warm (mmm) or leave it to cool where it might be easier to slice (mmmm) and ENJOY!!

 

  • Add the first 10 prompts here for #LifeThisWeek 2018. THANK YOU for joining in #LifeThisWeek in 2016 and 2017 and do come along, when the mood takes you, to join in 2018. Every 5 weeks will be a photo-based post of any type you like. With the loss of many link ups relating to photos, I suggested this on the blog as a place to SHARE YOUR SNAPS and I hope you will! Without further ado: here are the first 10 Weeks of #LifeThisWeek prompts for 2018. 

  • 1/52. “Bye to 2017”. 1/1/18.
  • 2/52. Word or Intention for 2018. 8/1/18.
  • 3/52. Favourite Weather. 15/1/18.
  • 4/52. What is Kindness? 22/1/18.
  • 5/52 SHARE YOUR SNAPS 1. 29/1/18.
  • 6/52. Starting School Stories. 5/2/18.
  • 7/52. Who’s a Worrier? 12/2/18.
  • 8/52. February is… 19/2/18.
  • 9/52. TAKING STOCK 1. 26/2/18
  • 10/52. SHARE YOUR SNAPS 2. 5/3/18.

I will add this list to the Home Page soon.

Next week the last prompt for 2017 is Christmas Plans. Then there will be no #LTW on Christmas Day. First day back on the blog for me will be on Monday 1 January 2018. The prompt is always optional. Link up an old post if you are in holiday mode or not. It would be great to see some links but being New Year’s Day I would understand why there might not be many!!

Thank you for joining in this year. We never got to 52 weeks of the prompts thanks for my cancer surgery but hey, only missing 3 is not a bad innings!!

Take care and I look forward to reading your posts and responding soon!!

Denyse.

I do not know what breaks Alicia or Kell are having but for this last time in 2017 I will link up too. Thanks for sharing your space ladies!

 

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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