Saturday 19th October 2019

My First Year With Teeth*! 33/51 #LifeThisWeek. 87/2019.

My First Year With Teeth*! 33/51 #LifeThisWeek. 87/2019.

So, this is NOT the optional prompt of Coffee, Tea or What…but for the record it is always this:

Small Latte, extra shot…in a glass. Every.Single.Day.

Ahhh. My habit that is calming and gives me time-out each day.

Now, for the real reason of this post.

One year ago, on 21 August 2018 the prosthodontist from Westmead Oral Sciences, Dr Deshpande issued me with my upper prosthesis, i.e. teeth. They have been ‘part’ of my upper reconstructed mouth now for a year.

Wow.

From no teeth to teeth day

For the previous months: mid May till then, I had so many visits to him – a 2 hour drive there and back – for the measuring, the adjusting, the listening to me whinge about the discomfort of the stent (see below) and sitting/lying in a dental chair for up to 4 hours….tiring and I know it tested my patience. That was when I discovered having earbuds in and listening to an audio book whilst he and Ofelia had their hands in or near my mouth was less confronting. Kind and professional as they are, it is still hard. Do you know what I mean?

My oh so important and wonderful professional team.

What I have learned about having “teeth” (upper prosthesis) up top:

  • it is nothing like the feel of natural teeth (and it’s been a while since I had them anyway)
  • the reason is that it is a device made from hard plastic (probably a better name for it) that is literally screwed into the 3 of 5 abutments I have placed in the ‘new jaw’ from my leg
  • it “looks” terrific. There is no doubt about that. I have a SMILE back.
  • it cannot be felt by me so I do have to think about how I eat. For example, putting a piece of food into my mouth I need to guide it towards the lower part of my mouth and tongue where I have all the natural sensations of taste and texture.
  • there is none on the ‘roof’ or re-constructed palate or the teeth themselves.
  • I can, however, acutely feel foods with some sharp edges (a salada cracker) and something that is savoury .e.g. vegemite which the skin will ‘scream’ a little bit about.
  • it turns out to be an ‘ideal’ way to maintain weight…seriously. I have gained a few kilos in a year but as my mouth is uncomfortable  to eat a lot, it’s a minimiser. I am careful to add protein of some kind into my eating every day.

I am incredibly grateful. Every. Single. Day. for how the marvels of modern medical, surgical and restorative dentistry via my amazing professional team, have given me a life without cancer, teeth that can chew and bite, a mouth that can close, lips (one is numb) that can kiss, and a voice which has not been compromised at all, except for a mildish lisp.

These images tell the story in collage form. Like most of my posts about head and neck cancer, the images also tell my story.

 

 

Surgery One. 6.7.17.

 

Surgery Two.15.11.17.

 

Surgery Three. 7.2.18.

 

Surgery Four. 16.5.18.

 

Between Surgery 4 & Upper Prosthesis Affixed.

 

A Year of Smiles….

Thank you for sharing this with me as a reader and commenter here. I am so fortunate to have a warm and kind community who is part of my blogging world. In fact, Kirsten who was a Woman of Courage recently commented on the community here. How lovely.

Today is the last post about my cancer story. It is as a good time as any to stop posting as I am doing well. I have covered all of what is important to me in terms of updates, announcements about how the surgeries and treatments are going….and of course, important for me, the record-keeper, is the recognition of my progress which I do based on dates. As Wednesday 21 August 2019 is the first anniversary of my ‘teeth’ I decided this can be the final post…until there may be a need for an update. Please do know how much it means to me to have such amazing ‘cheerleaders’ along with me. It helps….always helps to know I am thought about.

Denyse.

 

 

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But It IS Still About Cancer. 2018.103.

But It IS Still About Cancer. 2018.103.

Since spending much of last Tuesday, 2nd October, at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (my cancer hospital) in Sydney, I have been affected by the fact that the reason I am in need of regular visits is because I have cancer. Specifically a Head and Neck cancer that was removed from my maxilla and upper lip named:

“Hybrid squamous cell carcinoma showing features of both verrucous squamous cell carcinoma & conventional squamous cell carcinoma”

On Tuesday I got a copy of the Histopathology report from 6 July 2017 surgery. It was ‘less confronting’ to read from this distance of time but it did have words in it I found hard to read.

With no risks per se, other than age, it seems my cancer took hold. I reckon it was there for many months before it was discovered after having my bridge/teeth removed when the gums were so sore and growing over the teeth (my request to do so in January 2017 was not heeded until April 2017). Diagnosis came in mid May 2017.

Why am I writing this now?

Because after all the surgeries (4 in less than one year), and many, many visits back to Westmead for my prosthodontist to make my mouth ready to accept the upper prosthesis of teeth, I thought I was almost done.

I am not.

Cancer is and will always ‘be there’ and in fact, my Professor and lovely Cate, reminded me “It IS about cancer” and that is why I come back for check ups and need to be vigilant myself about any changes.

My day of catching up, meeting people and doing my trip to Sydney independently was wonderful and I am so grateful that all of these people care about me and helping others with cancer. But it came home, forcefully, and is affecting me today with some sadness;

Cancer is always there. I had let it hide for a while behind everything else I was doing. I appreciate you reading this far! It is important, always, once I have something impact me as this has, that I share.

My husband is a wonderful person I can chat with always and I saw my GP to update him as a de-brief.

But before I go on, I had a TREMENDOUS day on Tuesday, noteworthy too because it was the first time I had driven myself to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

Asking Others For Their Thoughts.

I asked around  facebook friends who I know are through the active stage of treatments for their thoughts and some kindly replied with these words.

From S.:

“I’m past the ‘active’ part of my treatment, I’ve had surgery and radiation. Now I take a once a day tablet to prevent recurrence and I got 12 months all clear. But some days I feel just awful with fatigue and other side effects. I spend whole afternoons sleeping on the couch. I don’t feel like myself and it’s really hard when people say ‘oh you must be back to normal now’. I’m not back to normal and I don’t know if I ever will be. The weight of expectation (my own and others) feels so heavy and overwhelming sometimes. Depression, anxiety and feeling down even though you survived cancer feels inevitable and like I am lacking gratitude for my recovery. I’m not, it’s just hard”

From V.:

For me post cancer treatment is a mixed bag. I’m so grateful for my recovery but the fear and uncertainty for the future is still there. It’s a monkey on your back forever and you have to find a way to live with that monkey. The monkey is very loud and cheeky at times. Other times I give my monkey a time out and she sulks in the corner. At my recent follow up appointment I sat in a waiting room full of women ( I had early stage breast cancer).   They all had that haunted ‘how in the hell did I end up here’ look on their face and you just bravely smile at each other without any need for words.

From S.:

It’s my cancerversary on Tuesday so I’ll be blogging about it too! I don’t think the cancer shadow ever goes away but I try not to let the worry of it steal my joy of today.

From M:

 The elation of hearing the words “all clear” faded more quickly than I imagined and in its place was anxiety. Having been so closely under the microscope for so long,  I felt anxious that the cancer might return and it wouldn’t be spotted. Over time, this does ease and I look forward to my six-monthly check ups for continued reassurance that all is ok.

From M in N.Z.:

It’s normal to have a slump in mood after treatment ends. I availed myself of the Cancer Society psychologists who are trained to help us deal with the transition from treatment to the new normal.

I also went to the NSW Cancer Council website and found this article about ‘after the cancer treatment stage’.

Can cancer be a positive experience?

  • Many people find there are positive aspects to having cancer. Some even refer to the disease as a life-changing experience.
  • Cancer may cause you to re-examine your life choices, and may motivate you to travel, take up new activities or make lifestyle changes (e.g. starting exercise or quitting smoking). This shift is often gradual, as even positive change can take getting used to.
  • After treatment, some people want to help improve the cancer experience for others through advocacy or volunteer work.

Read more at https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/15289/b1000/living-well-after-cancer-45/living-well-after-cancer-back-to-normal/#sUFxCMjbDj1ZGQz4.99

New friend to me, and known to many is journalist and M.C.  Julie McCrossin, who is now 5 years down the track from her Head and Neck cancer diagnosis and she sent me here, to her podcasts for the Cancer Council, and this one of fear I listened to again.

Liverpool Hospital Head and Neck Patient Support Group listening to Dr Ben Smith, Ingham Institute on cancer recurrence anxiety. Learn more about managing anxiety. Listen to The Thing About Cancer Managing Fear podcast cancercouncil.com.au/podcasts/episo… @beyondfiveorg @CCNewSouthWales http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:314217701/sounds.rss

Julie said “I find the fear catches me unawares, like on my recent birthday”

Thank you friends for sharing.

So, I am not unique.

Always good to know.

And I can share my worries and fears with others who ‘get it’.

Having cancer never really ends, but I am always grateful for the friendships and new experiences I am having as a result of cancer.

Thank you one and all.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie for I Blog on Tuesdays here and with Sue and Leanne here on Wednesdays.

 

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Appreciation In August. #4. 2018.80.

Appreciation in August. #4. 2018.80.

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

I appreciate each and every one of you.

You are my cheerleaders!

Denyse.

Thank YOU Each & Every One of YOU.

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

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