Sunday 18th August 2019

Self-Care: Share Your Story #4. 28/51 #LifeThisWeek. 77/2019.

Self-Care: Share Your Story #4. 28/51. #LifeThisWeek. 77/2019.

This week I will be completing week 8 of a ten week “moving for wellness” from the N.S.W. Department of Education as part of the Premier’s Sporting Challenge. I was kindly allowed entry as a retired principal …and it has been such a good boost to my physical and emotional health. I got a pleasant suprrise last week…I am doing better than I ever thought I might.

 

For this week’s self-care story it’s about:

  • finding a better balance between ‘doing for others’ and ‘doing for me’
  • learning about something new to help me use my phone with greater ease
  • making myself get into the outdoors more..no matter what the weather
  • allowing  time for morning teas out and meeting people and loving it
  • daring to go somewhere challenging & despite some difficulties emerge from it with greater self-confidence
  • accept that to grow, I still need to remind myself to do the hard things. Posts about that here and here.
  • returning to art-ing as a daily and creative habit after some time away and loving it more because of that
  • being well….because I have such a great team who have cared for me since I got cancer two years ago (posts here) and it’s UP TO ME to stay this way

What’s been your level of self-care lately?

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 Optional Prompt: 29/51 Winter: Like/Loathe 22/7/19. 

I will not be following the optional prompt as I have been remiss in updating Telling My Story, so I will write the next post for that instead.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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Women Of Courage Series. #8 Leanne. 76/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #8 Leanne. 76/2019.

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

This week we meet Leanne who is 57. I first ‘met’ Leanne via blogging and we clicked for a few reasons. One being we both worked in remote parts of our respective states when young and two being we are happily married grandparents! Here’s Leanne telling her story of courage.

 

 

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

I feel like a bit of a fraud answering these questions because I’ve never faced a life threatening illness or event. Maybe the closest reference to living bravely for me would be in the area of our finances.

We’ve been married for 37 years and for a lot of that time we’ve had a pretty basic income. My husband tends to enjoy a more flexible work style than your standard 9-5 and that has entailed a lot of times when we have lived on a part-time income. He has worked for himself freelancing with the resultant ups and downs, and also returned to study for 3 years to change professions in his 50’s.

When you’re a planner and an orderly person, having an uncertain and fluctuating (or non-existent) income when you’re raising a family, paying a mortgage, covering bills, buying food etc can be very stressful. It puts strain on your marriage, it puts pressure on the person who pays those bills, and it means that you have to step up and do more than you might have chosen to in different circumstances. For me it meant returning to work earlier than I planned to after having both our children – but managing to juggle time so that we never needed to use childcare (something I’m very proud of as that was a real priority for me).

 

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

Having an uncertain income has changed me in a lot of ways. My visions of being married to a career driven person and staying home and being a housewife when my kids were younger got tossed out the window fairly early in our marriage. I had to come to terms with the fact that the husband isn’t always the primary breadwinner – sometimes it’s a shared responsibility. I’ve needed to step up and share the workload and income earning for all our married life, but the plus side is that in the process we’ve also shared the child raising, school parenting, housekeeping etc roles too. It meant that I kept my skills current and didn’t ever have problems finding a job or taking on the challenge of learning a new position due to being away from the workforce for any length of time.

I’ve also needed to change my way of looking at what is truly needed for a happy and satisfying life. We’ve learned to manage our finances over the years and live frugally (but not in an impoverished way), to prioritize paying the mortgage and other bills first and making sure we had savings to fall back on when the leaner times arrived. Money is certainly not as important as I thought it would be – you can get by on a lot less than you imagine if you’re prepared to make compromises and be a little bit creative in how you view the essentials of life.

 

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

I’ve learned that our society focuses too much on material wealth and the idea that you can’t live a fulfilled and happy life unless you have it all. What my experience has proved is that you can live well by living within your means. If you haven’t got the money then you don’t buy it on credit – you wait until you have the money before you spend it, you don’t aspire to keep up with the Joneses, and you don’t spend randomly and thoughtlessly. Finding a second-hand bargain, or buying when something is on sale can be more rewarding than instant gratification.

Often when finances are precarious it’s easy to panic, but if you’re willing to make compromises – both of you going out to work, or both working part-time, or doing a job you might not normally consider (I sold Tupperware for a year when our kids were too little for me to have a 9-5 type job) you can always make ends meet. You might not have a brand new car, or an overseas trip, meals in expensive restaurants, or the most expensive clothes and shoes, but you will have plenty of food to eat, the bills paid, a roof over your head, and a sense of pride in what you’ve achieved.

 

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

I’m definitely less worried about what life will throw at me these days. I’ve seen our marriage weather the storms of financial strain (many marriages fail when money gets tight). We’ve learned to pull together and to adjust to each other’s differences. My husband has learned to be careful with money (he was more of a spender in his pre-marriage days) and I’ve learned to be more flexible in my expectations of who the breadwinner should be and how much money you need to be “well off”.

I’ve also seen what you can achieve with discipline and care – we were debt free by the time we reached our 50’s. We own our home, two cars, enjoy modest holidays, have plenty in our savings, and are in line for a fairly comfortable retirement. I used to joke that we’d be living under a bridge eating catfood when we reached 65, but that’s far from the case (thank goodness!) In fact, having managed things as well as we have means that I’ve actually had the courage to leave my toxic workplace and not feel the pressure to find another job – all that hard work has paid off!

 

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

As I said at the beginning, I can’t imagine giving advice to people who are facing cancer or the death of a loved one, or any other life changing event. All I can say is that life has no guarantees, we aren’t automatically dealt a hand of cards that gives us health, wealth and happiness. Instead, we take what life gives us and work with that to the best of our ability. We put ourselves out there and work hard, we don’t look for handouts, we don’t throw our hands in the air and give up, we don’t look to be rescued – we just get on with it and push through the barriers.

Life is truly wonderful, we are so blessed to live in a country that is safe and where we have a standard of living (and health care) that other countries envy. We need to appreciate all that we’ve been given and make the most of it. Tough times are guaranteed – there’s no free ride for the majority of us – and it’s having the courage to look for a way through and then getting on with it that ultimately makes all the difference.

 

Thank you so much for sharing your story Leanne. I am always appreciative of your blog, the opportunity to be a guest poster and to join the link up you have (see below) each Wednesday with Sue called MidLife Share The Love. This post, in fact, will be on that link up!

Denyse.

Social Media :

Blog/Website: https://www.crestingthehill.com.au

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/crestingthehill/

 

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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Taking Stock #3. 27/51. Life This Week. 75/2019.

Taking Stock #3. 27/51. Life This Week. 75/2019.

My Soup for the Soul

For the last two years I have been recovering from cancer. Specifically a rare cancer in my upper gums and under the top lip. Oral cancer is part of the Head and Neck cancer group. It’s not well-known and this is WHY I have continued to spread the awareness news…and WHY I add the link to the fundraiser I have on-line to help the organisation Beyond Five where I am an Ambassador. To date, I now have wonderful donations bringing my current total to almost $300. Thank you. This the link to where you, should you choose, may donate.

Of interest to me is the Taking Stock I did just before my big cancer surgery in July 2017. Here it is...with many caring comments from friends I know here.

Taking Stock #3 : 2 years on! 2019.

Making: decisions about how much time I spend sharing my art time with and for others….and coming up with the response I need to do more that is just for me now.

Cooking: little cupcakes. I think I write this a lot. Cupcakes get me through tough days and having fewer teeth. The current group are tiny ones and being made for the Soup for The Soul event coming up at Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support group’s fundraiser.

Drinking: after water, double shot small lattes. Every day.

Reading: two items: The Sydney Morning Herald which we now have to go and buy as home delivery is becoming extinct here. The late Chris O’Brien’s memoir. He was a superb head and neck surgeon whose skills and vision saw people like my head and neck surgeon trained under him and my head and neck nurse practitioner. His idea too, after seeing comprehensive cancer centres in the US, was Australia needed these….

Wanting: to keep sharing the stories of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse because if not for Chris and his vision, I would not have had such a friendly, comprehensive cancer hospital for my surgeries and check ups and where I feel very welcomed.

Looking: at my Apple Watch. To see how my steps, standing and getting exercise circles (rings) join up.

Playing: for the third time, Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton via Audible, in my car.

Wasting: too much time on thoughts that do not need chasing nor imagining into more/worse.

Wishing: I could achieve (gain?) contentment on a more regular basis instead of striving as much as my personality seems to dictate.

Enjoying: being back to ‘listening’ to books over and over. See above for Boy Swallows Universe.

Waiting: for some appointments where there is a bit of apprehension..one is with a new psychologist as I need to share how the grief of cancer along with ageing is confronting, and visit #38 or #39 with my prosthodontist to see ‘how my upper prosthesis’ is going.

Liking: just being ‘the two of us’. For all those years of a  household caring for kids, working long hours in busy and responsible jobs, caring for grandkids part-time….and part-time work…it’s just US being retired, yes some ageing is part of this, but it’s just us. Married for 48 years.

Wondering: how Dad’s health will continue to be so good for so long. He is 95.5 years!! Still very independent.

Loving: having time as best as I can make it work for me.

Hoping: that friends & family who need to find work/stay in work roles they enjoy can stay employed at the level they choose.

Marvelling: at people who understand anything ‘science- related.’

Needing: to ensure I do not obsess about how many steps I take…which are actually in competition with me…

Smelling: the sea when I get out of the car at The Entrance and always being taken back to January school holidays in the 1990s when we took family vacations there.

Wearing: clothes that I enjoy wearing and that I am much more (literally & figuratively) comfortable in – after some small “panics” about weight gain…which turned out for be good for my health. Who knew?

Following: people on twitter who make me think and also are prepared to have a decent and non-abusive conversation: I follow #education and #headandneckcancer mostly and make a contribution.

Noticing: there is a lot to be more grateful for which makes me actually notice more!

Knowing: I will forget some of my newer behavioural strategies to manage my reactions to potential stress…and give myself a break when I do.

Thinking: that I could do with less thinking…the one I am getting better at ‘over thinking’.

Feeling: Love – for and of others.

Bookmarking: every single page it seems where I save something on facebook. Best I review that.

Opening: my emails and seeing donations to the above cause. Thank you!

Smiling: every.single.day. because I MISSED my big smile for 14 months!

Do you ‘take stock’ regularly? Thanks Pip Lincoln for her original taking stock here.

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!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Next week’s optional prompt: 28/51 Self-Care: Share Your Story #4 15/7/19

 

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Women of Courage Series. #7. Dorothy. 74/2019.

Trigger Warning: Suicide, Grief, Family.

 

 

Women of Courage Series. #7. Dorothy. 74/2019.

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 Dorothy’s story.  She is 67. In 2016 I was ‘introduced’ on-line by a fellow art lover to Dorothy who has a Mandalas For A Season Group on Facebook and in that time, we have followed each other’s stories as women of a ‘certain age and stage’ and similar careers. Dorothy’s image is her mandala for Jarrod.

 

This is the icon mandala for Jarrod I created in the week before he suicided.

Dorothy shares her story here:

I am into my 5th year of creating mandalas (from October 2014).

In my retirement from being a Primary School Principal, I began with Kathryn Costa’s 100Mandala Challenge, having dabbled in Zentangle previously. I found as I immersed myself in creating mandalas, the greatest inner peace I have ever known.

Little was I to know that I would be launched into a devastating grief experience in January 2016 when my 36 year old son suicided after 18.5 years of battling multiple complex mental health issues.

My mandalas provided me with solace and comfort and continue to do so.

In the first month I created a mandala for every year of his life, and then on the 20th of each month in the year after he died I created a mandala to honour his life.

I was moved to create a mandala community on Facebook after Kathryn Costa took her 100Mandala Sharing Circle off Facebook.

Because of the value I have found at various seasons of my life, I called the community Mandalas for a Season.

Apart from engaging fully in the mandala journey, the nurturing of this community for each member has deepened and grown, and I have developed wonderful friendships through this community.

I am not a professional mandala artist – for me it’s deeply personal, and an amazing healing and encouraging experience.

 

I have learned that the grief journey is messy, non-linear, and has no end.

It’s not a matter of getting through it. It’s a matter of continuing to breathe.

I never knew that in grief love grows.

I never knew that I would miss my son more as the days pass.

I thought that in the immediate aftermath, life would go on and the pain would dull.

I am a member of several support groups for the “bereaved from suicide”. I gain perspective from other people’s sharing and it’s been reassuring that my aches and pains, days of lethargy, a feeling of the cloud hanging low, are not unusual.

I have learned that each member of the immediate family experiences the grief differently. For one stoicism is the pattern; for another distancing oneself is needed at times, for another detaching is the way.

I have learnt not to expect that anyone else can meet my needs – that the courage to go on comes from within me, and through my mandalas.

 

Dorothy, I am honoured that you have chosen to share your story about your son and the journey with mandalas.

Thank you for your heart-felt words and telling us how it is and has been.

I am including Lifeline’s 13 11 14 here.

Denyse.

 

Follow Dorothy on Social Media:

Instagram: dorothy_heartfulmandalas

 

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 Worst Job. 26/51. #LifeThisWeek. 73/2019.

My Worst Job. 26/51. #LifeThisWeek. 73/2019.

There has not been a worst job for me. However, there have been aspects of some jobs that have not been great. Here they are:

Babysitter.

When the parents promise to pay you a great amount (I’m a teen, it’s most welcome) and then that does not quite add up to the amount I thought.

Shop Assistant.

In the jewellery’s shop where I worked during school holidays (post here) the worst part was cleaning the Wedgewood. I cannot stand the feel of it. It was rough but not nice. I hated being asked ‘to clean the Wedgewood, please Denyse.’ Shudder.

Teacher.

When a  child vomits. The end.  OK. I could be compassionate and I was but OMG I do not deal with the voms at all. Even with myself.

Principal.

Being responsible to everyone and for everyone and everything…

100% hard yards at times…

because “you’re the principal” as I was told once..

YOU know what to do. Umm. Human being too.

Mother.

It is not a fair job nor one with endless rewards.

It is, in fact, one where you (me) sacrifice your interests, time, love, energy, sleep and more for someone who has become your child.

For a very long time…depending on when he/she leaves home of course!

However, I mindful that not everyone who wants to be a mother gets to be, so I will add my gratitude that I did get to be a mum.

Volunteer.*

Retired people are encouraged to put their work life skills and experience towards helping others and organisations as a volunteer.

I did this on a number of occasions over 10 years : helping a lady, in her house,  who had very little English to speak and understand basic English, answering telephones for a big Australian charity organising home deliveries of Christmas hampers, helping with Ethics programs as they were introduced into schools and teaching mandala classes at the local library.

The worst part of all of these was the bureaucracy:

  • the need for me to PAY for my own training in one instance
  • the ‘bossiness’ of at least one organisation that did not bode well for my continuation
  • the need for me to pay for liability insurance should I decide to be a solo volunteer  teacher

And so, I am no longer a volunteer. Nor is my husband who has a list that starts with: expecting a person to work (driving people to appointments) from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. with no real breaks as where we live there are some distance issues.

*Exception to being a Volunteer.

Ambassador for Head and Neck Cancer Awareness for Beyond Five.

This is one role I enjoy very much. I am still learning it as I go but I am respected and treated well. In fact, I am given guidance but also able to suggest how I can add to ‘getting the head and neck cancer stories out there.’ 

 

I have this fund raiser for Soup for The Soul, from Beyond Five, which assists in raising awareness of head and neck cancers, including the need for HPV vaccinations for males. Do consider a small donation here:

For Head and Neck cancer patients, family and friends. This is a website and offers lots to help. It continues to grow and change but with no government funding, some donations by companies in related fields and one part-time business manager, a fund-raiser was initiated in 2018 called Soup for the Soul. Soup is often a food that patients with head and neck cancer can manage and it is comforting.

Soup for the Soul is already live and I have a Virtual Soup for the Soul page here.  World Head and Neck Cancer Day is on 27 July.

My Soup for the Soul

 

The advantages of being old(er) and retired:

With my blogging, head and neck cancer treatments and check ups it is good to be able to enjoy a wide range of activities which do not come with a timetable!!

So, have you had a dream run with your jobs or is there a story to tell too?

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!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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Women Of Courage Series. #6. Annette. 72/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #6. Annette. 72/2019.

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 Annette’s story.  She is 51. I have connected with Annette via her blog and on social media thanks to our mutual interest in art and creativity.  

 

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

When I think of times I’ve needed courage in my life, two things spring to mind.

The first is that as an adoptee, it has taken me many small steps of courage, over many years, to come to a place of peace and self-acceptance. Adoption promises happy endings to all involved. The reality is that adoption begins with loss and creates trauma. Working through how I feel about being adopted has been the most courageous internal work I’ve done in my life, so far.

The second thing that I’ve experienced that required courage was being diagnosed with heart failure. It took courage to accept my diagnosis and then make changes to my lifestyle.

 

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

Adoption has impacted everything about who I am, but it isn’t who I am.

I used to believe that I was broken or defective in some way. Why wouldn’t you think that when all you’ve been told as an adoptee is that your mother gave you away; that love equals abandonment. That’s a messed-up message, and in many cases was not in any way the truth of the circumstances around adoptions in this country.

As for my health issues, that changed everything for me, from what I eat, to how much I can drink every day, to realising that no, actually we’re not immortal. It’s been a good life lesson.

 

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

Courage is not waking up one day with the confidence of a superhero.

Courage is incremental.

Courage manifests itself in tears, in trembling, and in the smallest actions. Often those actions begin in the mind, where we have to decide if we are going to act or hide.

Courage is accessible to all, though many of us don’t believe it.

Courage is believing you can act to change the circumstances, then following through.

 

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

Yes, I’m practised in courage, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy or automatic.

The deeper the fear, the harder it is to draw on the courage you need. But it’s there. It’s there in all of us.

 

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

Believe in yourself, and have COMPASSION on yourself.

Courage takes time to stir up. It can be an emotionally trying process. It can make you want to run away more than you’ve ever wanted to.

The tiniest, almost invisible to the naked eye steps you take towards courage count. Everything counts, not just what is seen or celebrated as courageous.

Courage isn’t about big things, it is about meaningful things. Learning to say no, being willing to say yes, making peace with yourself, loving the person you are, believing in your completely unearned worthiness; these are acts of courage.

 

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

I believe in people’s ability to grow. I believe it because I’ve seen it in others, over and over again, and because I live it.

 

Thank you Annette. My life is richer from getting to know you too. I enjoy our conversations on-line about art and more.

Denyse.

Connect with Annette here on Social Media

Blog/Website:     www.igiveyoutheverbs.com

 

Twitter:    www.twitter.com/theverbsblog

 

Facebook Page :  www.facebook.com/IGiveYouTheVerbs

 

Instagram: www.instagram.com/igiveyoutheverbs

 

 

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 #5. #LTW25/51. My Head & Neck Cancer Photos 2017-2019. 71/2019.

Share Your Snaps #5. #LTW25/51. My Head & Neck Cancer Photos 2017-2019. 71/2019.

I am choosing to celebrate my two years + since head and neck cancer diagnosis in images that mean much to me as a patient who is using this medium to show:

Surgeries,

Healing,

Gratitude,

Waiting, 

Becoming Well.

Some images may be confronting to you. The nature of having a head and neck cancer is that it is brutal in its ways of eradicating it. Be it surgery (my sole treatments), radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of all. Please consider using my experience to get your mouth checked and to follow up any pain, lumps & bumps in the head, neck, under ear areas….And please think about a donation to my Virtual Fundraiser for BeyondFive where I am a volunteer Ambassador. Link at the end. Thank you. 

 

1. Where recovery began. Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in July 2017 and realities of being home and what my body was doing to heal.

2. My ‘mouth’ reconstructed…and lots of waiting for more surgeries and needing to adapt to changes in my mouth. Surgery in Feb 2018 too.

3. And a 4th surgery…gets me closer to upper teeth but such a long wait with a stent attached inside. Getting my #HNC awareness happening & supporting the first Soup for the Soul event telling my local MP about it.

 

4. Many trips to Westmead as my mouth needed measurements, cleaning of abutments area and so on. I had 2 more surgeries to make my mouth ‘teeth ready.’ My first meeting with Central Coast HNC patients. I had not met another HNC patient till almost a year after my first surgery. And....S M I L E.

 

5. So many reasons to smile, show appreciation & help support the works of HNC groups, meet with Beyond Five, smile at my surgeon and see the realities of inside my mouth, with my prosthodontist telling me all about how this is screwed into the cheekbone and more. Yikes. No wonder it hurts at times.

6. With my recovery continuing my confidence improved.It was great to have some special occasions including a belated retirement medal presentation, meet-ups in December & Christmas at our place & to celebrate my 69th birthday at the the end of November.

7. In early Jan 2019 a quick trip to COBLH to see my surgeon where he confirmed ‘extra skin’ was just that, not cancer…and that threw me for a bit (cancer as a possibility). It was good to think about it and consider gratitude and we celebrated an 18th Bday & our Feb meeting of CC HNC support group had a special guest.

 

8. And the memories of the 2 years before were strong but I gave myself credit for getting through tough times then and now. Meeting up with friends AND authors who are friends was fab! My mouth reality is here too. Bit graphic: Before Cancer diagnosed.

 

9. Celebrated my 2 years since diagnosis with my husband on 17 May and he said ” time for the Apple Watch you’ve wanted”. Recently I’ve helped share another HNC patient’s story for Beyond Five, met my daughter for Mother’s Day, had another CC HNC group meeting at the Cancer Council, saw my prosthodontist, my dentist too…and at the special celebration of Chris O’Brien’s legacy for Head and Neck cancer in early June at COBLH loved seeing my surgeon, Prof Jonathan Clark (who became AM from Queen’s Bday honours the next weekend!) and my HNC Nurse Practitioner Justine. I am so fortunate!!

 

10. My friend updated my image for the blog after it had been showing my way before cancer image for 4 years. Now, that feels more like me!

 

Denyse Whelan Head and Neck Cancer Patient now Ambassador.

Consider a donation of $5 or more to my Virtual Event

For Head and Neck cancer patients, family and friends. This is a website and offers lots to help. It continues to grow and change but with no government funding, some donations by companies in related fields and one part-time business manager, a fund-raiser was initiated in 2018 called Soup for the Soul. Soup is often a food that patients with head and neck cancer can manage and it is comforting.

Soup for the Soul is already live and I have a Virtual Soup for the Soul page here.  World Head and Neck Cancer Day is on 27 July.

Have you shared your snaps today?

Denyse.

Kell also has a Monday linkup here. Join in!

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 Series. #5. Kirsty Russell. 70/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #5. Kirsty Russell. 70/2019.

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 Kirsty Russell who is 43. I am delighted to share her story as we have been blogging friends since 2012! 

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

There have been many times in my life when I’ve had to be courageous and, to be honest, it takes courage every day to keep going. There have been three main challenges I’ve faced in my life where I’ve needed to draw on every ounce of courage I possess:

  • My kids’ diagnoses (albinism, autism, anxiety, sensory processing disorder) and my ongoing fight to support them in every possible way
  • A stress induced health scare five years ago (I thought I was having a stroke) which made me question everything in my life
  • The death of my parents (my Dad in 2015 and my Mum in 2018)

Each challenge forced me to rebuild my life, reevaluate my priorities and face my fears.

 

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

Following my kids’ diagnoses, I had to change the way I think and adapt how I live to meet their needs. I had to learn to advocate for them, which was hard for someone who avoids confrontation. I had to learn to think differently, to try to understand their behaviours, their anxieties and their challenges. I had to cultivate more patience (still working on that one!) and I had to open my mind to new ideas. Since my eldest son was born 15 years ago, I’ve been undergoing a transformation. It’s challenged my beliefs and hasn’t always been easy but I know I’m a better version of myself now, having gone through everything in that time.

Following my health scare, I had to re-evaluate my life, my priorities and my career in order to put my health first. I was working in a job I loved but could no longer juggle the stress of managing contracts and leading staff in part time hours while also being there for my kids. I’d drop the kids off at school, drive 30 minutes to the office, work for 5 hours with no break, then drive 30 minutes back to pick up the kids and take them to therapies and appointments. There was no time for me, let alone to breathe or think. While I left with sadness, 5 years on I know it was the best decision I could have made. Although I wish it hadn’t taken a near death experience to urge me to take some action…

Most recently, I had to dig deep to support both my parents through their separate cancer diagnoses and help them find peace, while trying to adjust to a new normal without them. Having to take the reins of their lives, while watching them fade away is something that has forever changed me. There’s nothing that can prepare you for that. You just have to be strong because there’s no alternative. Also, I never expected to be parent-less so young – there’s a burden of responsibility which sits on top of the weight of loneliness. I’m the eldest and I know I’m not alone but it feels like I am. Not having them here to celebrate the highs and to support me with the lows will never be okay but I have to find the strength to be at peace with it. To be honest, I’m still working on that.

 

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

You need to believe in yourself and in your ability to adapt and meet each challenge. Most things in life are thrust upon us but in rising to these challenges, it proves that we can rise to others of our own making. Life is too short to live in fear – that’s something that each of these experiences have taught me. Choose to look for the positives and make the best of each situation because none of us know what’s around the corner.

 

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

I’m about to take a huge leap of courage and launch a new business to help fellow parents and educators to find connection and work together to achieve better outcomes for students. I would never have considered taking this leap a few years back – I’ve been ruled by fear for most of my life. But the challenges I’ve been forced to face in the last few years have shown me I’m strong enough and brave enough – I just need to take a chance and start.

 

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

Lean into the situation. Don’t run from it. Face things head on. If you make the decision to face your fears and make the best of the situation you have a better chance of overcoming whatever life throws at you. That’s the only way I’ve been able to deal with all the challenges of my life and I hope it’s enough to see me through whatever comes next!

Thank you Kirsty for sharing your words. I am impressed with how much you do to advocate for many. I always enjoy our catch-ups too!

Denyse.

Follow Kirsty here on social media:

Blog/Website: https://positivespecialneedsparenting.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PosSNParenting

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

Instagram: https://instagram.com/PositiveSpecialNeedsParenting

Kirsty just added this…at my insistence!
I’m about to embark on the biggest opportunity of my life, presenting 2 sessions and being part of a parent discussion panel at the Asia Pacific Autism Conference in Singapore from June 20-22. I’ll be sharing what we’ve learned advocating for our son at school and providing information for professionals on how to more positively engage with parents of kids with autism. I’m equal parts proud, nervous, terrified and excited but I’m grateful to have the chance to hopefully make a difference.
Here is the link and I am sending her my congratulations and best wishes for this event! I do not believe this will be her ‘last’ appearance!

Next week’s Woman of Courage is Annette.

Annette is a blogger too but we have only met ‘virtually’.

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.

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