Monday 17th June 2019

I Am Grateful Series. 21-40. 59/2019.

I Am Grateful Series. 21-40. 59/2019.

I am grateful every day.

Since learning more about myself, from before, during and after my cancer diagnosis, I know that I am better emotionally when I express gratitude.

I do this in a number of ways.

I will silently think of 5 or 10 things (using my fingers!) that I have been grateful for that day before I go to sleep.

I always express my gratitude to the person who has served me and made me my coffee. There are very few exceptions to this and watching someone’s face light up means the gratitude bounces back I guess.

A few years back I wrote a post about gratitude and how I was keeping a journal then. I am re-posting here what was, and still is, an excellent source about the value of:

GRATITUDE

The social benefits are especially significant here because, after all, gratitude is a social emotion. I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.

Indeed, this cuts to very heart of my definition of gratitude, which has two components. First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good thing in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life.

The second part of gratitude is figuring out where that goodness comes from. We recognize the sources of this goodness as being outside of ourselves. It didn’t stem from anything we necessarily did ourselves in which we might take pride. We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but I think true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.

from here.

I have been going out each day since late October 2017, dressing with purpose and having a coffee. In my small journal I might do some art or I might write to get my thoughts out. Recently, I gave myself the challenge (I like a challenge!) of coming up with 20 thins I was grateful for over 5 days, making a total of 100.Over the next weeks, each fortnight, I will share those groups of 20.

Do you practise gratitude regularly?

My 21-40 is here.

I am grateful for:

21.waking up well each day

22. eating breakfast is now about eating for health

23. grass: loving to walk on it barefoot

24. my friends: on line and in real life

25. my inner energy to help others & to give

26. my body bouncing back after major health issues with cancer

27. blue skies in Autumn

28. knowing I am loved

29. my audible account to enable me to listen to books read by authors

30. the universality and equity of twitter

31. books: knowledge

33. my daily newspaper delivery: sadly no longer: had to cancel due to NO delivery.

34. my ability to modify my unhelpful behaviours

35. great growing up years in 1950s and 1960s

36. living by the beach in those years

37. honesty: mine

38. my ability to empathise more now

39. knowing I can ‘delay’ a craving and may no longer desire it

40. Being born Australian

 

I am grateful of course to you, my readers and fellow bloggers and to Min whose link up is called Zen Tips Tuesday and is found here.

Thank you!

Denyse.

 

 

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Self-Care: Share Your Story#3. 21/51#LifeThisWeek 58/2019.

Self-Care: Share Your Story #3 21/51 #LifeThisWeek 58/2019.

You know I thought I had self-care pretty well sorted. Turns out that is not always the case.

Back story:

I talk about and write about self-care but….when it comes to me, there are times I neglect to take into account some of my life circumstances and events where I may need to UP the self-care.

Does this make sense?

I found, to my detriment, that the need for self-care is especially high when I have:

  • had a time of remembering cancer’s decision to lodge in with me 2 years ago which I wrote about for several weeks before the 2 year anniversary
  • more emotions tucked under my more confident exterior than I realise
  • been to a cancer-centred place and
  • had a cancer check at said place

That was my Tuesday 21 May 2019.

How did I come to this conclusion?

From a 9 a.m. departure from home, to a 4 p.m. arrival , I realised, even though I love driving& returning to Sydney, that it had been a BIG day:

  • finding a park somewhere near any hospital is a pain but I did, it was quite a hike away & the carpark was not made for SUVs (mine is not huge!)
  • being on time for my catch up is important to me as was getting a double shot latte (and lemon delicious tart) into me before the meeting
  • having a good talk with N from Beyond Five and seeing my head and neck nurse too
  • leaving some art materials with the art program head at Lifehouse and being asked to come back to speak to other cancer patients about my positive take on life after a cancer diagnosis and how art helps me
  • being surrounded by the legacy of Professor Chris O’Brien in this amazing place, Lifehouse, named after him
  • viewing his memorabilia marking 10 years since his passing, even though I did not get to meet him, I have met his wife
  • attending my 3 monthly check marking 2 years since cancer diagnosis
  • getting good news (I guess) that there is no cancer present but I will need a CT scan next week….and be back for a check up in 4 months
  • having a wonderful chat and laughs with both my surgeon and nurse
  • them showing appreciation of my role as an Ambassador and getting some photos taken

and that without having cancer, I would not have been there nor had these experiences.

So: I HAVE had cancer and it’s always present (in mind if not body: cross fingers) and when that sank in, and I was tired & teary the next day…with some evidence of my old faithful emotional measure, IBS…

I KNEW what to do NEXT time.

For optimal self care I need to  allow the day after a big one like this to be a transition and be gentle to myself. In words and actions. Some art, some time outside in nature and something nice to eat with my coffee and to manage some more mindful and compassionate times telling myself how that’s been a tough time, but how I am caring for myself better now.

Oh. The new Apple Watch is helping me too. Stopping to breathe mindfully  or one minute every hour and counting my activity as it is good for me to be active – within the limits of my current physical health.

That’s what I have been up to.

 

Do you find you need a ‘day of rest or better care’ after a big event of any kind?

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!

Next Weeks’ Optional Prompt: 22/51 First Job. 3/6/19

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Click here to enter


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Art,Creativity, I.C.A.D. and Me. 57/2019.

Art,Creativity, I.C.A.D. and Me. 57/2019.

A few years back, six specifically, I was told about a U.S. based creative fun art challenge called I.C.A.D.

Index Card a Day.

The founder, Tammy Garcia, is someone who is not a trained artist but one who has found creativity unlimited through art. Her website is here.

The notion of using a simple thin card called an index card to product ‘something’ creative each day for 61 days began a few years  before I joined up in 2013.

I found a place. I love it and this art and creative part of me grew and grew. I continued being part of the I.C.A.D. community is a member and for a couple of years as a moderator. I made (and continue to make) new on-line friends there and have met on of those people as she lives in Australia.

Art of some kind, not just I.C.A.D. has been immeasurably a significant part of how I have learned to manage my anxiety in the transitions of my life (retirement, leaving Sydney, moving away from family & friends) and it has been a daily activity since 2017.

Helping with Cancer.

Already having re-discovered my art/creative side back in 2013, when I was diagnosed with cancer, making something arty every day has really helped me in managing my stress, pain and worry about cancer’s return. I have written many times about this and here is the link to all of the posts.

Back to I.C.A.D. in 2019.

I had a break from I.C.A.D. in 2018 and that has made me doubly enthused to be back for 2019.

The challenge itself is a self-challenge. Complete a simple index card a day in an art-ful way for 61 days. Tammy has loads of ideas and being part of the group I know I get inspired. She makes up a list for one week at  a time of daily prompts. Like my blog prompts for Mondays, these are optional.

In one week’s time I will have published my first 2019 Index Card and will be prepping #2.

Have Fun is the Message.

If you get bogged down in ‘making art perfect’ then what you get via I.C.A.D. involvement is learning to enjoy the process and the imperfections.

Do think about joining in for 2019.

I know Alicia is from here. 

See You There, I Hope!

The direct link to finding out more is here. It is free. However, to be part of some extra connection and learning from others and Tammy there are two paid options. I have paid $9.03AUD for the $6 USD entry in special, private group. This is because the changes in Facebook and Instagram make it impossible to track your art and others.

Publishing on the Sunday before I.C.A.D. starts to give you the chance to consider signing on!!

Denyse.

Not a sponsored post. I don’t do them. This is sharing to connect if you are interested! 

 

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Women of Courage Series. #1. Sam. 55/2019.

Woman of Courage. #1. Sam. 55/2019. 

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

Let’s meet Sam who is 48 (nearly!)

 

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

I find myself mustering some courage in a lot of everyday situations because I’m a born worrier/scaredy cat.  However, some major health issues, both mine and of those nearest and dearest to me really had me digging deep into my courage reserves.

Just before and just after I turned 40 I received cancer diagnoses (two in the same year!) and that required not just courage but resilience. I was very fortunate in that I had a great medical team behind me who cared for my physical and mental health. In many ways, I found my treatment (surgery followed by radioactive iodine treatment) relatively easy (if inconvenient and a little bit ouchy) to deal with. I definitely needed some courage to jump through all those cancer hoops – endless appointments, surgeries, treatment, special diets, drugs and although my prognosis was excellent – facing off with my own mortality. I wanted to be strong and support my loved ones because in many ways my diagnosis was hardest on them.

Having a loved one with a serious medical diagnosis is heartbreaking because all you want do is make it better but you can’t. I learned this the hard way in 2014 when my husband had a minor stroke. I think being the carer was so much harder than being the patient. I had to reframe all my negative thoughts into positive ones and focus my energy on being positive.

 

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

I sometimes think being courageous is like a muscle, the more you use it, the better you get at it. I think courage leads to resilience and that’s one of greatest life’s tools. These days, I’m a lot more resilient. When I face tough situations, I always think to myself, “well if you got through X or Y, then you can get through this.” Just like muscle memory, I think I have courage memory!

 

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

I’ve learned that I can’t control what happens to me but I can control how I deal with it. Bad stuff happens but the way I think about and act upon it can really make the experience a positive or a negative one.

 

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

I know I can deal with difficult things, everything I need is inside. I also know that if I can’t deal with something on my own, that it’s OK to ask for help either from my friends and family or from a mental health professional.

 

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

Think positive! I really do think that the body achieves what the mind believes. Some of us are able to draw on our own courage and some of us draw on the courage of others so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes asking for help is the courageous thing to do!

 

Thank you for sharing your story, Sam!

Find Sam here:

Blog/Website: https://www.theannoyedthyroid.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/annoyed_thyroid

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

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

 

If you would like to share your story of being a woman of courage* please let me know in the comments and I will email you. That would be great! *There are no men included as I  think we women do not talk or not write about our stories which is why I’ve  called the series: Women of Courage.

Denyse.

My story was last week and is found here.

Next week’s Woman of Courage is Megan Blandford. 

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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I Am Grateful Series. 1-20. 54/2019.

I Am Grateful Series. 1-20. 54/2019.

I am grateful every day.

Since learning more about myself, from before, during and after my cancer diagnosis, I know that I am better emotionally when I express gratitude.

I do this in a number of ways.

I will silently think of 5 or 10 things (using my fingers!) that I have been grateful for that day before I go to sleep.

I always express my gratitude to the person who has served me and made me my coffee. There are very few exceptions to this and watching someone’s face light up means the gratitude bounces back I guess.

A few years back I wrote a post about gratitude and how I was keeping a journal then. I am re-posting here what was, and still is, an excellent source about the value of:

GRATITUDE

The social benefits are especially significant here because, after all, gratitude is a social emotion. I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.

Indeed, this cuts to very heart of my definition of gratitude, which has two components. First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good thing in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life.

The second part of gratitude is figuring out where that goodness comes from. We recognize the sources of this goodness as being outside of ourselves. It didn’t stem from anything we necessarily did ourselves in which we might take pride. We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but I think true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.

from here.

I have been going out each day since late October 2017, dressing with purpose and having a coffee. In my small journal I migth do some art or I might write to get my thoughts out. Recently, I gave myself the challenge (I like a challenge!) of coming up with 20 thins I was grateful for over 5 days, making a total of 100.

Over the next weeks, I will share those groups of 20.

1 to 20.

I am grateful: 

  1. for my life – even now
  2. to be married to the most caring, loving, sensible B.
  3. to be a Mum to a daughter and a son
  4. to have 8 amazing grandkids who love me
  5. for freedom of speech and where I go
  6. for my intelligence
  7. for the career I did really well in.
  8. for my love of teaching
  9. to have the company of little kids as learners
  10. to experience art in my life
  11. to have enough money for much of what I need
  12. for this retired life
  13. to live in a comfy, modern house to live in until at least April 2020
  14. for a regular aged part-pension payments from Centrelink
  15. my advanced and amazing health care
  16. to my team of health professionals I trust
  17. for my blog
  18. for the connections I make on-line
  19. for my memory
  20. To drink coffee: out each day.

Do you practise gratitude?
What are you grateful for today?

Denyse.

Joining with Min for Zen Tips Tuesday here.

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

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Share Your Snaps 4. 20/51 #LifeThisWeek. 53/2019.

Share Your Snaps 4. 20/51 #LifeThisWeek. 53/2019.

Every 4th week for #lifethisweek the optional prompt is about sharing your photos. Less wordy….more visual is the intent. See how I go this time!

It was a momentous week in Australian politics.

The new prime minister of Australia is the one who was there before the election. Nothing else to add.

Australia’s legendary PM from 1983 and for 4 terms was Bob Hawke and he died 2 days out from the 2019 election. I honour Bob here for the good he did (and I know some remember differently) and that he took time to answer my then 7 year old son’s letter when he wrote to him about ‘not wanting a war to happen’. I have since found more people got letters back from Bob Hawke, written in his own time and signed. No PM has done that since I have heard. Thank you!

But it has been a pretty big week for me…actually an anniversary of 2 years since my cancer was diagnosed. I am very grateful to be as well as I am. I have a visit to my head and neck cancer surgeon tomorrow and “hope” all being well, the next visit will be in 6 months.

Marking the occasion was by making a HUGE mandala which I started a month or so ago to literally remember by a space on this and a photo of me from every month.

I also made these photo collages. I find it really helpful and motivating for me to “look back and see how far I have come”. Here they are:

Before May 2017 diagnosis, I was ‘trying’ to be smiling and well but something was lurking….from 2016 onwards

 

Recovery & surgery times: July 2017 onto Nov then into Feb 2018

 

Surgeries x 2 recovery and then…many trips to Westmead for upper prosthesis. Teeth added: 21 Aug 2018

 

Smiles for day…months and more!

 

Taking this up to recent weeks. Of course, I still have to be wary of eating and it takes a LONG time to eat small amounts requiring chewing but very happy indeed.

For about 6 months I toyed with the idea of getting an Apple Watch. Those who have read some of my Instagram posts know I now have this but I shall share more. I wanted to have “something” to mark the 2 years of cancer done but it seemed extravagant for us on a tight budget to get one. I had this idea I would sell some books and CDs towards a saving plan and actually that brought in $100 net! Thanks friends here. Then on Friday, 17 May 2019, I was taken on our morning tea date and when it was over, asked did I want to go get this Apple Watch now!? Apparently my face showed it all. SURPRISED! So, it is never “that” easy because one shop did not have the colour and size in stock but another did and off I drove happily that afternoon. And what I totally love about an Apple Product is…unwrapping. One day with the watch already and I will be, at some stage, changing the band. No blue tooth earbuds yet either. I shall wait and see.

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!

Next Weeks’ Optional Prompt: 21/51 Self-Care: Share Your Story #3 27/5/19

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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Women Of Courage Series Begins. Denyse. 52/2019.

Women Of Courage Series Begins. Denyse. 52/2019.

Recently I wrote about the story behind Women of Courage series to begin here and this is that post.

It got me thinking that “I” should tell one of my stories first.

This is my story of courage. And, surprisingly as it was to my husband when I mentioned the topic, it is NOT about getting cancer.

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

I have faced quite a few challenges in my almost seventy years of living! One was a cancer diagnosis but I have written about that many times. I will continue to write about it, as time goes on. This one is when I chose courage over comfort and decided to apply for K-6 Principal roles back in 1998. I know we are talking a LONG time ago, but my memories are very clear.

  • I loved my role as a non-teaching Deputy Principal as it meant the best of both parts of my experience was used: supporting teachers in the classroom and being able to assist families in relation to their children. Being ‘on class’ as I had been as an Assistant Principal in previous years made that other part of what I did well much more difficult. So, from 1988 until ‘decision time’ in mid 1998 I was employed and happy to be so, even though the school and its community was in a low socio-economic area of Sydney, we knew as teachers we made a difference. That is why I taught.
  • However, the school population started to fall. That happens in high-growth areas when initial movements into a suburb settle. I was told that my role as a non-teaching D.P. was being taken from the school’s staffing entitlement. That meant, go on class or move to another school. I did stay and go on class and that was a special time because a young student in my class had cancer and within the first six months he died. I was honoured to speak about him at his funeral. Mid-year I got an offer to become a relieving Principal in the wider area where this current school was located.
  • Torn but confident of my decision, I left my school of almost 10 years, and went to the newer one as their relieving Principal. Now, that DID take some courage. I admit, it was such a change of role, even though I had held a relieving Principal role back at my other school, that I wondered at times “what have I done?”
  • But over the two terms, I could sense that my confidence (and courage!) to continue in the ultimate school leadership role was there. But wait, what about after 1998? It seems like destiny or something like that moved me to seek a substantive Principal’s role starting in 1999 because…caught where I was, I had been appointed the next D.P. at the school where I was already relieving Principal and it began to feel like a demotion….so I garnered all my courage and….
  • Applied for substantive Principal roles via merit selection.

 

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

  • Doing this did change me because I “had” to make the decision to move forward not to stay still or even go backwards. I had those people who worried about me a little bit (hello Dad) stepping up but ultimately I KNEW it was this or….The other was not an option.
  • I admit, it was hard work, leading a school of over 600 students till the end of that year, AND preparing for applications to new schools as their principal. I ‘got through’ to I think four interviews and was unsuccessful. I was not discouraged, which surprised me.
  • I did (and do) have more courage than I thought.

 

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

  • What I learned is to keep on going.
  • The roles I missed out on I took recommendations and feedback from the panel convenors who then could have been my future bosses as they were District Superintendents.
  • Then, I got one very helpful feedback session over the phone and as I knew an interview was happening, I used more ‘tricks’ that were legal of course…and I have recommended these to many since.
  • One was to look at the application and the school’s list of qualities wanted in the successful applicant and write up some likely questions and have your answers written when you go to pre-interview 10 minutes with the questions.
  • Take that with you into the interview, use it to glance at as it is an aid for memory. Of course, make eye-contact with the panel and in particular the person asking the questions but don’t be afraid to add to your responses later.
  • The most important part I learned from this experience was that I was:
  1. brave enough
  2. good enough
  3. knew what I was doing
  4. had a range of skills, knowledge and experience that helped guide others
  5. human
  6. unable to sustain my emotional health during the fourth year as principal (I have written about that here, here, here AND here)
  7. and was COURAGEOUS enough to recognise my health came before my job.

 

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

  • Yes I do, from this position of some 16 years later. But I still faced many life challenges where I needed to be reminded I HAD courage and needed to use it more. I know, once I managed to get over the shame of leaving the role I loved, I was much more able to see I WAS courageous. I gave it all my best shot and shame is not a helpful emotion. It did take some years of counselling and reading to achieve that level of confidence and courage.
  • When I KNEW I had some of my courage return, I then applied for and taught in schools, part-time and English as a Second Language, for six years and that was part of my healing.

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

You have more within than you realise it. Don’t listen to the naysayers or the negative voice in your head. Take the first step towards whatever your goal is. Sometimes the first step is the hardest…but then, there is no turning back! Onward!

This leads to the next weeks and months ahead where I have quite a few Women of Courage to share their stories.

If you too would like to share your story, please tell me in the comments and I will forward you what to complete to be a part!

Looking forward to each Wednesday!

Denyse.

Joining with Sue and Leanne here for Wednesday’s Midlife Share The Love linky,

With Leanne on Thursday for Lovin Life link up here AND with Alicia on Fridays for Open Slather here.

Thank you all for your link ups.

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

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Two Years Ago: Before My Cancer Was Diagnosed. Series Concludes. 51/2019.

Two Years Ago: Before My Cancer Was Diagnosed. Series Concludes. 51/2019.

This is the final post in the series of five.

Thanks to you all for continuing to read and comment about this very difficult time in my life.

It is only by the review of how it was, I can see and sense just how much I did endure before the cancer diagnosis!

In this month of May, I am reminded by the outside signs: weather, temperature, clothing AND the dates on the calendar exactly what is coming up.

The 2nd anniversary of being told I had cancer.

Wednesday 17th May 2017 at 9.35 a.m.

From the writing of the fourth part of this series till the timeline of this final post, I can remember:

  • trying my best to distract myself from the pain of the mouth after the extractions, thinking “this must be how recovery feels”
  • telling myself that I would be OK even if my emotions were telling me differently…via IBS and anxiety.
  • looking out for ways in which I could share on-line, via blogging and instagram to help me focus on other than my mouth
  • waiting for the first appointment in early/mid May to come so I could return to the dentist
  • keeping myself ‘busy’ with more learning about mindfulness, which included this:

Then mid-May arrived. I needed to visit my former GP on Wed 10 May 2017 to say farewell now I had found our new and current one close to where we live, and I needed some female tests done. I also had the appointment with the dentist on Thursday 11 May 2017.

This mouth of mine was so smelly, sore and downright worrying. I had not really shown the doctor even though I had seen her regularly for 2 years because it was not until the extraction on 6 April 2017 that much became visible.

Once I took the denture out, she GASPED and put her hands over her mouth. NOT a confident move but one I know was from shock.

This view spares you the details but it was no pretty at all. She made immediate arrangements for me to have a CT scan of my face – sinuses etc as she was thinking cancer and an OPG which is a special 360degree X-ray for the mouth. She knew I was seeing my dentist the next day.

Off I went home with a pit growing in my stomach…and of course, I could not think of much else. On the Thursday, I arrived at the dentist’s office with my little cakes and a card to say “thanks for caring for me at the extraction appointment”. Nice. Then it was his turn to express shock – but in a less dramatic way – after seeing the state of the gums AND to send me to the Oral Surgeon for a biopsy. THAT was sorted out very quickly when the Oral Surgeon saw me on the Friday 12 May AND could do the biopsy then. A sneaky suspicion I now have – in a good way – is that my dentist got in touch with her quick smart and said “asap” please.

Whilst I DID get through that Friday, knowing I had to wait till Monday for the results was H A R D…and it was Mother’s Day, 14 May 2017, on the Sunday. To be frank some family issues were making this a day that I was not looking forward to much but, as Mum, I did my best to cover my feelings. Not very well, though as even in this photo I remember all I was thinking about was the results the next morning. I did tell my daughter as she was leaving that I had some test results coming.

Monday 15 May arrived and once the time arrived that I could call to see if the results from the Imaging places were in, I did and I went to collect them: no sign of anything sinister. Breathe out….. Later that day the oral surgeon called with initial biopsy results …nothing sinister found….breathe out….and I called both my Dad and daughter with the news. My husband already knew.

Phew. Dodged that.

Not so fast apparently. It still did not make sense that I had this weird gum thing happening but I took the words of the professionals and believed them.

Wednesday morning, 17 May,  my husband was at Lifeline doing volunteer counselling and I was still in my chair, finishing off the morning paper after breakfast. The home phone rang and it was the oral surgeon. She apologised for the call, but had the detailed pathology report and it was squamous cell carcinoma in those nasty gums of mine. I was shocked but not surprised as I have said before…”it HAD to be something major”.

From then on, it was all-systems go…to a certain extent. I know I had to really get myself into headspace where I could deal with, of all things, the travel to and from Sydney the very next day…and the next two weeks and I did. Typical of me, on that Wednesday, after my husband arrived home and I had my big cry, I was able to go into organisation-mode, and call Lifehouse to find out who Dr Clark was (!) and to plan our trip. I did these trips and managed what I did thanks to my own work, my husband’s amazing support and our GP’s wise words and advice.

The rest of the cancer story is here….and these last words and the photo are of me prior to the first, big surgery in July 2017 and of my thoughts beforehand.

“last smiles” were/are treasured but under those false teeth it’s cancer

  • I made  plans and prepared for hospital,  making meals for later,  and making sure I had sufficient clothes and activities ready to take to the hospital but it was surreal. I was doing this BECAUSE I have cancer. It still did not make sense to me.

  • I know that I saw my GP and psychologist about the surgery and what is meant to have cancer and yes, I cried sometimes but other times I was just numb. THIS could not be happening to me!?

  • My mouth and its discomfort and smell were the source of the cancer and I began to ‘hate’ it.

  • I also knew this surgery was going to take away 3 things that were and are precious to me: smiling, communicating and eating. Made me sad and quite stressed.

  • I was resigned to what the operation was but I truly had no idea of how it would impact me because it was like I was somewhat detached.

  • I knew that the surgery would be within 4-6 weeks of our consultation with the surgeons but oh how those weeks dragged on as I wanted to surgery to be over…but I also did not want to have it. So horrible. It  ended up being 7 weeks after diagnosis.

  • It took me weeks to finally get out the hospital forms and complete them. I just couldn’t before. I had to make myself do them. Filling them out meant, of course, I HAVE cancer and HAVE to do something about it. 

  • I made a decision to stay in a ‘cheap place’ the night before surgery and I so regret this as we were uncomfortable and I spent some of the time ‘feeling guilty and responsible’ because I have cancer. 

  • On the day of surgery, at 6.00 a.m. we  presented yourselves at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, and then once ‘checked in’  I undressed and got into the paper gown which meant THIS is about to happen. O.M.G. 

  • I said goodbye to my husband and was off….the journey into the unknown…the operating theatre.

     

Thank you dear readers and commenters. It has helped me enormously to be able to document my cancer journey. At the time of publication, it will be almost the 2nd anniversary of my diagnosis. I am so pleased to be well and at this point. Incredibly grateful to many! I will be seeing my Professor, Jonathan Clark and his wonderful assistant Cate next week for what I hope will be a positive outcome and the intervals between cancer checks will spread from 3 monthly to 6 monthly.

I will have seen my prosthodontist on Monday 13 May so I hope that went well.

It did go well. I am maintaining my prosthesis well. Good news!

 

Yay for modern treatments in Australia and reconstruction surgeries that have enabled this senior citizen to have her ‘mouth’ as functional as it can be thanks to the marvels of modern surgeries and the healing powers of my body.

Denyse.

An unlikely entrant for Zen Tips Tuesday, I know, but I sure know I employed a LOT of skills to stay as calm as I could on this occasion in particular. Thank you Min for your link up here.

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