Tuesday 18th December 2018

November Notes #5. 2018.125.

November Notes #5. 2018.125.

I went to a million (give or take) in-service courses as a teacher/principal.

I think they are called “professional learning” now and I also know they “count” towards accreditation each year.

I also devised and delivered many as both a teacher and University tutor and Adult Educator.

So what is this about in relation to my final November notes?

It’s how my personal development was & is enhanced by having cancer.

I am aware I have written at some length about the processes I have learned behaviour-wise and they are here, on the page “Denyse and Her Cancer Story”.

What I will do now is write about my changes in behaviour and attitude and how this can be linked to my cancer diagnosis. To make it easier and for me to see the changes, it will be in photos.

  • I gained independence
  • I became much less anxious and fearful following my diagnosis and subsequent BIG surgery
  • I tried new things with greater ease than ever before
  • I knew that to follow the processes and trust in the professionals, I would be OK.
  • I sometimes had to challenge the negative voice inside that wanted it all “done and now”
  • I found calm in more ways than I realised: particularly by going outside, into nature and doing art.

And then more:

  • As I already knew from the experiences of ‘exposure therapy’ the more I did the more I could do with increased confidence
  • Things do not occur linearly nor with ease and of course there were (still are at times) so tears that spill over and some worries
  • What is different now is how quickly I recover and re-group
  • It feels so much better for me to be a calmer person who is less afraid to travel, meet up with friends old and new and see greater times ahead
  • I can also put the “cancer voice” back in its box with relative ease by using my thinking strategies well.
  • I no longer try to ‘case manage’ anyone else’s behaviour.
  • I accept with great assurance that not only am I doing the best I can, so are most people
  • I am much more likely now to reach out a hand in friendship and care rather than recoil because of the anxiety and fear based on social engagements and effects of IBS.

And this is why and how having cancer helped me grow. It is a learning process of course. However, I am loving how my life is now and what I have gained back from this past 18 months living with a cancer diagnosis.

There is such a phenomenon called Post-Traumatic Growth. Article can be found here.

This resonates with me:

Types of personal growth

People may experience different types of change while coping with cancer, including:

  • Improved relations with others. Living with cancer may increase feelings of closeness or intimacy with family or friends. It may make it easier to connect with others who have had a traumatic event.
  • New life experiences. Having cancer may change your priorities, causing you to make different life choices. You may be motivated to make a career change, overcome a fear, or fulfil a life goal.
  • A greater appreciation for life. A cancer survivor may have an increased regard for life’s value or a new sense of vulnerability to death. This awareness may help you appreciate the world in new ways.
  • A sense of personal strength. Living with cancer can help you develop increased mental strength and a sense of empowerment. You can be proud of what you have accomplished.
  • Spiritual development. Some people living with cancer find they gain an increased interest in practicing religion or adding spiritual depth to their daily lives.

Having post-traumatic growth does not mean that you have completely overcome the stress and other feelings about having cancer. Growth and suffering can happen at the same time. In fact, most people who report post-traumatic growth also report having struggles. A person may grow in one area of their life and not another, or in a number of areas at different times.

I have been incredibly fortunate of course to have the surgeries and treatments and I never downplay cancer but as an educator I know what it has taught me and continues to teach me.

Have you had experiences that have changed part of your life and your outlook?

Please share!

Denyse.

Joining in with Leanne for Lovin Life linky here.

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We Won An Award! 2018.118.

We Won An Award! 2018.118.

We did.

My husband and I were nominated by our Real Estate Property Management for one of their five awards for tenants.

This was the “gratitude” award. Others were: “best exterior” “best interior” “loyalty” and “tenant of the year”.

We have been renting houses since selling ours in Sydney and moving to the Central Coast, New South Wales in early 2015.

The first place we rented was not suitable for us even though we hoped it might be. Too long a story really but I can say we were treated well by our then property manager and got the famous bond back with ease. However, this house made me in particular unwell. It’s layout, the ill-fitting of our furniture, no ducted air (some air but useless really), and stairs. A spiral staircase. I was emotionally ill. The house, memories of the losses of our ties with Sydney, family and more took its toll. So much so, that we chose to leave early once we found a better house, much more affordable and one that ticked so many of the boxes for us.

The view was to the water but the house was not lovely

The second place we rented was just right. We were fortunate that once I found it, and had an inspection we were able to secure it after our application went in. Even the prospect of paying double rent till the other place’s lease expired could not contain our enthusiasm to be: back in a house on one level, had ducted air, a garage with internal access and more.

We wanted to stay there indefinitely as it was a place of shelter and security for me in the worst time of my life: cancer diagnosis. We enjoyed the quiet neighbourhood and there was a friendly element with the neighbours. It was at the northern end of the Central Coast that we both felt we had made the right move.

Loved tending to the flowers in pots as part of my daily routine.

The people who owned the house however decided to call a halt to our enjoyment by wanting it to move into by August 2018. I admit, I did not know how I would go moving somewhere else as so much was familiar here. But…

This is the way of being tenants. We had great advice from our newer property manager who suggested once the lease expired 6 months before the owners wanted to move in, we go week-by-week and in the meantime look for a suitable property.

I looked, we looked and we wanted to stay in the northern end, and as local to where we were because of our health connections, familiarity with shopping and so on. The real estate agency gave us two properties to fit our bill but one was a stand out. Our high priorities are ducted air conditioning and one level house. We viewed it, put the application in with the people who knew us well, and secured the house we are living in now. Phew.

Still enjoying the flowers in pots outside

So, about the awards. The principal of the agency decided in 2017 to give tenants awards because they are the over-looked group in real estate. He told us on the night of the awards their group has 1600 houses tenanted! The nominations for  awards for tenants were made by the groups of property managers. Our name came up because, in the words of the senior property manager who has been ‘watching over us’ said “we are the gold standard tenants”. That is nice to know. She also said we tell the other property managers that we never want to lose you and that your emails of appreciation and care for us are valued.

The awards night was held at the local club and each of us (there were 8 people for each of the awards) was welcomed by the staff of the real estate agency and led to a beautifully decorated table with buffet type food and drinks on offer.

The first award was the “gratitude” award and I was there without my husband but it was a real thrill to have our names on display and for me to receive the award from the senior property manager who said very kind words.

What a lovely surprise! The evening continued with all the awards presented, photos taken and after 2 hours we were about to leave when we were told, no wait, there is a take-home gift. It was a very heavy….half leg of ham! Amazing.

In a time when gratitude is needed more than ever, it was gratifying to know we were considered that way.

Have you been an award winner at any time?

What do you think of this idea?

Love to hear your thoughts.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie here for I Blog On Tuesdays and with Sue & Leanne here for Midlife Share the Love on Wednesdays.

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I Want This. 44/52. #LifeThisWeek 2018.111.

I Want This. 44/52. #LifeThisWeek 2018.111.

This post’s title has been rattling around my head with some interesting, surprising and somewhat easy answers.

One: I want an Apple Watch. Series 4.

  • it is new
  • I am an early adopter
  • I will get fitter using it

Response: I do not really NEED an Apple Watch. I have looked at them, tried one on and thought “that much for this?”. I also look at my fitbit which is doing the job. I am making efforts to walk more steps with that. So, I will stick with that.

Two: I want my cancer to NEVER re-occur.

  • to be certain of this would ease some fears
  • to know I have had it and won’t face what I have been through again

Response: I am sorry. That is not going to be a sure thing. In fact I know intellectually it can return because, as I was told at my last cancer check, “the risk of return is because you have already been diagnosed with cancer”. OK. I will join all of my fellow cancer friends and just live with that knowledge. Not over-think it, just live with it.

Three: I want my weight to stabilise now thank you…or even drop a couple of kilograms.

  • this would mean like dieting again (eek)
  • this might even mean disordered eating and secret eating happening (no!)

Response: I see I am looking at the scale to determine my worth again. Uh uh. This will not end well. How can I be doing that when I have overcome so much to get well. I need to remember my husband’s recent response (exasperated I think) when he said “I do not see fat, I see a healthy woman.”

Four: I want to be satisfied with our life as it is now.

  • I am doing my best to live in the present
  • I am grateful for much in my life including family, friends and connections on line
  • I no longer see having our own home as a pre-requisite to a satisfied life

Response: I have it already. It is worth thinking it through and coming up with the answer.

I have what I want. It is here. I am glad.

What about you?

What do you want?

Denyse.

 

Today I link with Alicia here: for Open Slather and Kel here for Mummy Mondays. Do visit them too and link up!

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: 45/52. Share Your Snaps 9. 5/11/18.


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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 Plans. #LifeThisWeek 49/52. 2017.133.

Christmas Plans. #LifeThisWeek 49/52. 2017.133.

This Christmas our plans are very simple as on the day itself we will be ‘just us’.

And, shhhh, we actually don’t mind that much because for decades Christmas was a day of travelling, entertaining, eating and then resting…on Boxing Day! My lovely husband is going to cook a non-traditional Christmas roast of lamb as that is the meal I was able to eat some time ago. I am making a lemon meringue pie. It does not have to be tradition if I cannot eat something. I have missed Christmas cake, mince pies and of course anything crunchy but I reckon I can last till next Christmas for these!

So here’s a little photo collage of what Christmas is for us, two retirees living away from their adult kids and grandkids:

Every Christmas I get a ‘favourite’ tune or song and LOVE it …so much so it can be all I play in December. I love Christmas songs for their memories of teaching them to kids and being in choirs myself. This year I have found Sleigh Ride. One with no singing. Just this wonderful version added for your listening and viewing pleasure.

 

Then there is this one: only just found for those who like the words and choral voices.

Now, indulge me a little more with my look back at Christmas. I am still a bit of a kid with Christmas and I never actually let on to our kids Santa wasn’t real (he is too!) so I was determined, this year, to get a Santa photo. Here I am last Sunday. I have also included some other examples of Santa pics!

And so this is Christmas. I hope whatever your plans are that things are Merry and Bright.

Thank you all for being part of this community in 2017.

Life This Week is a special place of sharing and caring and it has sustained me through my difficult times.

For that I am most grateful.

We finish on 49 link ups because there is not one on Christmas Day and I was in hospital for 2 of them

We did well though I do believe!

The prompts for next year are on the Home Page and are part of this post too.

All good wishes to you and yours for now and into 2018.

Denyse.

Joining Alicia for Open Slather and Kell for Mummy Mondays for the last time in 2017. Thank you both.

 

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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I Am Grateful Today. Cancer Surgery #1.Part 3. 2017.98.

I Am Grateful Today. Cancer Surgery #1. Part 3. 2017.98.

For those of you who have been following my story of having cancer, the surgery for cancer and the recovery, this post is bringing you up to date with my first month at home.

Going home! Are there any better words when you have been in hospital? I do not think so! I spent the whole of the journey back home being very grateful for my discharge from Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and being entrusted into my loving husband’s care. I think I talked all the way home as it had been some time (ok, 10 days!) since I had been outside the walls of the hospital.

The following photos will tell part of my story of gratitude.

However, throughout all of this ‘cancer journey’ the one person I am most grateful to is my husband:

the yin to my yang, the calm to my panic, the voice of reason to the voice of worry, the patient man for the patient who is often less than patient….I dedicate this post to him.

And even though he dislikes the attention, I have told him often enough that without his care, love, compassion, practical skills and commonsense my time becoming accustomed to have cancer and facing the serious surgery would have been much, much harder.

I am very grateful to B:

 

Here I am …within one month even I can see the differences and I know I feel different inside and much more ‘like me’ so I am incredibly grateful for healing time, a good body, great medical and surgical support and my outlook!

Taken on 12 August 2017, 4 weeks after my arrival home from hospital.

I am most grateful for YOUR support and care via your comments, your Facebook updates and those on Instagram. Thank you all!

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell for I Blog on Tuesdays and Leanne for her link up called Lovin Life on Thursdays.

The gratitude post in photos!

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On Being Grateful. 366/265.

On Being Grateful. 366/265.

For the past year or so I have kept a gratitude journal on and off! On is when I remember and off is when I haven’t! So, in the past few months I’ve made the effort just about every day and I post the contents to a private Facebook group I am in. It helps keep me focussed on the haves rather than the have-nots, the positives instead of the much more forthcoming negatives and it makes me review and think!

I use an app on my iPhone so I can review the gratitude journal easily. It is a paid app called: Gratitude Journal – The Life-changing App. by PPL development company and it has reminders as well as daily quotes. You can add photos to each day should you choose. There are other apps around too but this is the one I find cool. Not sponsored!

In keeping with letting my readers know more about my topics, here are two articles about being grateful and expressing gratitude in ways which work for you.

Here’s one article about writing a gratitude journal. This is akin to what I do but not nearly as much time is expended nor numbers of things to note. That works for me.

And then there is this from a longer source: noted below.

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.

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Here’s some of my entries over the past months. I write 3 things each day. They are many and varied! Some days I just do not want to write but I make myself consider that I am grateful for and I come up with them every time!

I am grateful for:

  • a day spent by myself
  • confidence growing and strengthening my outlook
  • changing some of my thoughts to be able to make a successful trip to see my dad
  • a sunshiney day which beckoned me outside for a walk with my husband
  • supportive blogging friends encouraging me in my new blogging link up
  • using some distractions and thinking skills to keep my mood from changing to a negative one after IBS
  • peanut butter on crunchy toast
  • sense of humour returning
  • my husband’s building skills as he creates furniture for us

So, do you practise feeling grateful?

Do you write anything in a journal that relates to gratitude?

Tell me what you think of gratitude!

Denyse.

health

Linking on with Raychael at Agent Mystery Case for Worth Casing Wednesday.

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