Tuesday 18th December 2018

Two Steps Forward. One Step Back. My Cancer Recovery Update. 2018.126.

I am dedicating this post to the memory of a lovely woman whose life was cut too short by cancer. Chelsea, my friend Leanne’s step-daughter lived life to the max. Cancer may have been ‘in her’ but cancer did not take her spirit nor her love of life…and for her family including her husband and your daughter. My shared experience with Chelsea was that we were both patients of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and because of that connection I wrote one of the Letters to Chelsea Leanne mentions on her blog.

Thank you for sharing the love and the life of Chelsea dear Leanne.

 

Two Steps Forward. One Step Back. My Cancer Recovery Update. 2018.126.

Update to update: even though I have outlined what was disappointing to me in this post which was an event from last weekend it has also taught me more about my capabilities in eating than I knew. I like many had tended to think eating with new teeth in my gums would be ‘back to what it was’. Not so, and I am now being more realistic and flexible.

Yesterday, 30 November, I turned 69. I had a wonderful and low key birthday celebration at a morning tea for two with my dear husband. We chatted, ate well, had our favourite drinks – small latte with an extra shot for me and English breakfast tea for him. Afterwards we wandered through the grounds of this lovely nursery, bought a plant each and came home to a relaxing afternoon spent at home. It really was just as I would have liked.

Except for this:

  • it has taken me sometime to adapt to some extra teeth added to my own on the lower jaw and I am very conscious of how much ‘saliva’ escapes and am constantly wiping – especially if I am talking…and drinking/eating. But with my husband or by myself I just get on with the ‘tidying up’ and enjoy what I can
  • I know my upper lip is shrinking in. I accept that. But, did you know you cannot ‘blow out the candle on your cake’ unless you get much closer…and I also cannot drink with a straw as there is no vacuum made in my mouth
  • I have a small but significant pain area in my….index left hand finger…the dominant one..the one where I write, draw and play. I have had pain in the tip of it before, as there is significant arthritis in the joint below. But not as bad as this. Our G.P. could not see anything affecting it from the outside, so he advised anti-inflammatories for a few days.
  • both of the above are so small, in the overall scheme of things I know, but I am writing about them (not using the left index finger!) because they have both given me cause for concern today especially.

Out Socially for Lunch.

  • Last Monday I had lunch at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and was asked what I could eat. I nominated a simple cheese white bread sandwich and a lemon slice I had tried there before. Whilst I did not eat more than half of the cheese sandwich, I managed and did not feel as self-conscious as I thought. I also took my leftovers home! Win.
  • Today, I ventured to a local large club for a Christmas lunch get-t0gether with the Head and Neck Cancer group I am in. It was the first time I have gone out for anything other than coffee and cake. I gave it my best shot. It is a very friendly group and I did get to know people more today in this social setting.
  • What I found though was a reality check for me about my current status in recovery as a Head and Neck cancer patient.
  • Knowing I ‘could’ have taken the easy way out and ordered a safe coffee and cake that I knew I could handle, I decided to join in and actually have lunch! Remember I have only ever eaten a meal at home for over 2 years.
  • At the ordering desk, I asked for a small meal: I could see a baked dinner was on offer and was pretty sure I could manage some meat, potatoes, pumpkin and grave. “No”. Sorry,  we do not do small meals on Saturdays. “Can I have just one slice of meat with a couple of the vegies?” “No”. No offer of a kids’ meal (I think they would have refused that too) so I asked could I have just the potato and pumpkin and gravy. “Yes”.
  • OK. I thought, well this is a lesson. Not everyone ‘gets what they think they can’ and also maybe this establishment does not cater for people with different needs. And, I stayed quiet about it. I was a guest. Everyone else at the table was either way down the cancer recovery trail than me or could find foods to suit them.
  • I could eat one half of each vegetable and then as it takes me a while, it got cold. I had leftovers and asked if I could take them home. “No”.
  • I went and got a coffee later, no cake, chatted some more then drove home and ate….some lunch.

Why Write This?

  • It helps me to process it and maybe others who know what I am talking about can understand
  • The fact that I may have given myself something creative to do over the past 3 days as I needed to has not helped my mood much. I really miss using my finger.
  • I am hopeful, that by being patient and having the meds it will come good. Or I will go back to the G.P.
  • I am concerned I over-expect of myself, so writing this is helping me process
  • Maybe I just needed to ‘get it off my chest’ as they say!
  • It is not a post where I am wanting any sympathy but I did get insight into a world out there today that, in some respects, has no flexibility to meet special needs
  • I also know people face this as a challenge every.single.day
  • I am wondering if my ‘reaction’ was a bit of an over-reaction to a day which I had wanted to go well, and in terms of socialisation it did.
  • But it came up short for me, the head and neck cancer patient getting used to eating again in a regular environment, and so I wonder if I need to be more prepared for the situations I place myself in as I change from ‘no eating’ to ‘limited eating’ to ‘regular eating’.

It feels like two steps forward and one step back….but probably it is more like five steps forward and maybe one step back!

And maybe I will take a little container of my own next time for left-overs!

Thanks for reading!!

Denyse.

P.S. It IS most unusual for me to post on a weekend but for my emotional health I am…and I already feel better for writing it out. THIS is why I blog!!

Linking up with Leanne here for Lovin’ Life on Thursday…sending love to Leanne and her family. xx

 

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Look Good Feel Better Workshop. 2018.115.

Look Good Feel Better Workshop. 2018.105.

Look Good Feel Better workshops are open to anyone undergoing treatment for any sort of cancer.

https://lgfb.org.au/workshop/

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a Look Good Feel Better Workshop in my local area.

It was held in a private room within a community church. It is free and available, on application, to any person with cancer. It started at 10 and ran till 12.30. There was no break nor any refreshments other than water.

There were three women from “Look Good Feel Better” waiting for me and the other people who arrived. Each of us chatted briefly and then we sat around a well-organised table with individual places, products, a bag and mirror. There was help from the ladies as we were given tips on how to make up our faces and things were done in a clean and hygenic manner.

The co-ordinator, Cindy, pictured here with me, ran the event aided by a volunteer and her volunteer co-ordinator Kate.

Cindy, the Co-ordinator with Me…after-shot!

Interested in Being a Volunteer? 

The Look Good Feel Better program relies heavily on our team of 1,300 dedicated and passionate individuals who volunteer their time, knowledge and expertise to help deliver our workshops across Australia.

We ask that our volunteers are over 18 years of age and can commit to a minimum of FOUR workshops per calendar year (where available in your region) to ensure we have sufficient volunteer support for our workshops to run.

The first section (around an hour) was very helpful and I did pick up some tips for my poor ravaged skin on this face that has undergone four surgeries! We learned about the sun protection levels and the fact that those undergoing treatments may be even more damaged by the sun so to take good care. We found out about facial tricks – to hide or minimize ‘flaws’ and I learned more about using the concealing ‘green’ stick on red places.

I seemed to be the only one there who was not affected by hair loss or potential hair loss but not everyone shared what their cancer was so I am surmising.

The second section was not relevant to me and I did think about leaving before it started but to support the lady next to me, I stayed. This section was about losing hair, head coverings, tricks and tips and wigs. I am glad I was there for this lady and I do hope now she has started her chemo she is a little more prepared.

 

Look Good Feel Better is a national free, non-medical, brand-neutral program dedicated to helping you face your cancer with confidence. 

While most changes in your appearance are temporary, we believe that taking control of your appearance is one of the simplest and most effective ways to boost your self-esteem and confidence while going through treatment.

Can’t get to a workshop?

Home-delivered Confidence-Kits are a supplementary service developed to assist cancer patients who are unable to attend a Look Good Feel Better workshop for health, travel or personal reasons.

I came away feeling a bit flat which may have been because “my cancer” is not well-known. The second session in particular geared to those, who through cancer treatments have had hair loss  including eye lashes and eyebrows. I fully understand that more women need this kind of help and support through treatment as do others who have chemo.

There was little to no interest in knowing more or even hearing about my head and neck cancer, but those of us head and neck patients find this is a general response. Now you know why I try to educate and help others as I was ignorant too about head and neck cancers till my diagnosis!!

I would however like to thank those who shared their morning with me, particularly the fellow cancer patients. Some were incredibly kind and generous with their tips to others, like the lady next to me who was scared pre-chemo, and one lady had us all ‘fooled’ when her beautiful head of hair proved to be a wig.

Thanks to those who volunteer with the organisation, Look Good Feel Better, and those who work hard to see it happens. From the time I got my initial email, to the time of attendance the communication was excellent. In fact, I was able to change the day of mine to “when I would have my teeth” and they were happy to do that.

We all got the new products that were on our placemat at our table and each is now in my bathroom and I am using the eye brown pencil, the blusher, the big brush, the mineral foundation and the tinted moisturiser.

Have you attended a workshop?

Do you know someone who might benefit?

Put them in touch via the website and they will be looked after.

Denyse.

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

 

 

 

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What Is Kindness? #LifeThisWeek 4/52. 2018.7.

What Is Kindness? #LifeThisWeek 4/52. 2018.7.

I wrote about kindness in January last year and I have to say, seeing the word above where I write via my computer reminded me many times over to BE KIND…both to others and myself. I did not know then of course, that the pain in my mouth would be diagnosed in May at cancer and that my life as I knew it till that time was O.V.E.R. Yet, I also did not know back in January and through until that awful day in May 2017 how much my life would be impacted by:

                                  I                 E       S

From the news I shared on-line and via friends and family I was the humble recipient of so much kindness! It blew me away. I wondered why and that was my own inner voice of inadequacy and lack of worthiness ruling my thoughts then. When I let that voice retreat to the back of my mind I was calmer and then more understanding of how many people wanted to, and did, express their kindness towards me.

That kindness came in many forms: phone calls, texts, private messages, comments on my blog and FB pages, letters, gifts, flowers and visitors. Why did it take me some time to absorb this?

I guess, like most, I am more comfortable with GIVING kindness than RECEIVING it.

It became something I needed to learn, and quickly too, as if I was to continue to take part in my cancer treatments, mostly surgeries, I would need to be a FRIEND to MYSELF and speak both GENTLY and KINDLY to me.

Self-c0mpassion and adjusting my self-talk has become a lesson I have learned, and am still learning in my life as I move into this year’s cancer surgery and more.

Recently I asked this question on Facebook “what is kindness?” and received a great list of responses. Each person’s initial is next to their response. I was blown away with the readiness of people to do this and that each answer had a varient of sorts.

It’s a mixture of generosity and consideration, wrapped in friendliness and delivered with an open heart. A.W.A.

The selfless elevation of the needs of others above your own, an extension of empathy, generosity and care. B.K.

Thoughtfulness, unselfishness, empathy. A.S.

It’s not wanting anything in return. K.L.

Listening without needing to have or provide the answers. Empathy without necessarily intellectually understanding. J.W. 

Thinking of others and how you can make them smile. S.C.

Performing an act of selfless generosity, anonymously. M.W.

Kindness is doing something to brighten someone else’s day – unasked and without expectation of reciprocation. It’s about thinking of what you can do for others, rather than what others can do for you. R.B.

Tolerance, respect, generosity. A.O’B.

Helping others in time of need. K.M.

Kindness to me is noticing. B.M.

Kindness is the gift of someone’s time. It’s being listened to, cared about or just simply being made feel of importance. It’s about being ‘seen’. It’s a selfless act with no expectation of anything in return. M.G. 

A friendly, open person who treats others with respect, consideration & empathy. P.D. 

Kindness is strength. It’s often mistaken for weakness, but it is far from that. True kindness has boundaries, AND compassion. A.H. 

In short supply. L.Mcl.

My image and words:

 

I went to find quotes from others too. It would seem kindness is not only very important but necessary today as always. I will finish with the words from these people too. I trust that you have found the topic of KINDNESS as interesting and as universal as I have!

 

No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. ~ Aesop

Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless. ~ Mother Teresa

No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.

~ Amelia Earhart

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?

~ Jean Jacques Rousseau

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
~ Dalai Lama

I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do. ~ Helen Keller

When words are both true and kind, they can change the world. ~ Buddha

source: http://www.spreadkindness.org/kindness-quotes

My image and words:

What will you do today to be kind?

How has someone’s kindness affected you?

Tell us more in the comments!

Denyse.

Joining with Alicia here for her Open Slather link up.

Join in here today for #LifeThisWeek 4/52.

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 is the FIRST ‘PHOTO PROMPT’: 5/52. SHARE YOUR SNAPS  29/1/18.


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My Word for 2017. #LifeThisWeek 2/52. 2017.5.

My Word for 2017. #LifeThisWeek 2/52. 2017.5.

My word is KINDNESS.

I know the world is a better place for kindness from others and given to others. I also want to focus more on offering Loving-Kindness to myself first…and then to more people along the way.

Glen Campbell’s words ring true in this beautiful video representation of kindness from a video I liked most which is from a Christian perspective. Whether a ‘believer’ or not, there IS something about the reaching out to others to connect us that MAKES kindness so very important. Glen’s music was such a part of my life and I am saddened that he passed away after a long illness  but the gift that is his music remains.

For that I am grateful.

The lyrics: Try A Little Kindness Glen Campbell

If you see your brother standing by the road

With a heavy load from the seeds he’s sowed

And if you see your sister falling by the way

Just stop and say, you’re going the wrong way

You got to try a little kindness

Yes show a little kindness

Just shine your light for everyone to see

And if you try a little kindness

Then you’ll overlook the blindness

Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

Don’t walk around the down and out

Lend a helping hand instead of doubt

And the kindness that you show every day

Will help someone along their way

You got to try a little kindness

Yes show a little kindness

Just shine your light for everyone to see

And if you try a little kindness

Then you’ll overlook the blindness

Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

Repeat last verse.

Songwriters: BOBBY AUSTIN, CURT SAPAUGH © OBO APRA/AMCOS

For non-commercial use only. Data from: LyricFind

This was my word/s from 2016 and I have to admit it was a hard slog living up to the words AND remembering them!
 
So, have you decided on a ‘word’ for the year ahead or are you not into it?
I am somewhat divided on it as I have found that I can choose the word and write  about it but then the challenge becomes remembering what it was as the year progresses! 
I hope you have linked up for Life This Week 2/52. 2017.
On Mondays I link up here with Alicia for Open Slather and Kell here for Mummy Mondays.
Denyse.

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