Tuesday 24th September 2019

Cancer and Me Four Months On. 2017.108.

Cancer and Me Four Months On. 2017.108.

Really? It’s been four months since I found out that cancer was in my mouth….and by this Thursday coming, 11 weeks since it was removed. Oh. Then that has  gone both fast and slow!

I did say I wasn’t going to have cancer at the centre of my blogging but I cannot deny that it’s there/here/everywhere around us. My community nurse who visits each week to change and check on my leg wounds’ dressings has cancer. Hers is breast cancer. I know of on-line friends recently diagnosed too and one, very sadly, who has passed away. And the country was saddened to see the recent death to cancer of Connie Johnson from LoveYourSister.

CANCER.

I don’t use the ‘f’ word in front of it though. Many do with the #f…cancer. It’s just not me.

Today though  I am actually wanting to share the lessons having cancer has taught me. I am not going too ‘woo woo’ or having had a new experience from beyond. But it’s true.

Having cancer has taught me these 10 lessons:

  • I am not alone in getting a rare cancer and a most unusual one like mine …even if I did  know that someone else has had it might make a difference. The point I am making is I am not special”.
  • The surgeons know more about how to fix me than I do so I am better leaving things in their capable hands rather than trying to control where my cancer is taking me.
  • About kindness. Of strangers. Of friends. Of people I may only see a few times. So. Many. Kind. Words & Deeds. I am forever grateful.
  • When I need to be, I can be patient and wait. This is a huge life lesson for the previously still  impatient moi!
  • I have more inner strength and resilience than I have previously given myself credit for. It has made a psychological shift in me that has been noticed by those closest to me and the professionals I see more frequently such as my GP and psychologist. I am going well in so many ways, I can see & feel that now. 
  • To appreciate the little things in life. Sunshine on a day where I can go outside and soak up some vitamin D. A warm bed after an early shower (my husband still needs to help by sealing my right leg in a plastic bag. Time to talk. To my husband and to friends who call.
  • My creativity and independence give me great strength each day as I endeavour to feed myself for healing, wellness and enjoyment. It IS a challenge but now I am on my own two feet and fit to cook, I enjoy making meals for someone (moi!)  who has 8 teeth on the bottom jaw and a strong tongue. The rest…is attitude and being aware of how I can eat safely.
  • I can be calm about what is ahead because I am fortunate enough to be able to know (within a small likelihood) that my cancer is unlikely to metastasise.
  • What I face in the next 6-12 months is to get my mouth ‘fixed’ from the inside. I do trust my surgical and dental team 100% that their goal is for me to be cancer free (check!) and back to eating as I might have in the past (on the way) and to have my full smile back (it is half at the moment).
  • Every day is a gift and I need to be more in the present than I have ever been in my whole life. I am a work-in-progress in this as I often spent times in the past (regrets, sadness) and projecting into the future. I know that the only moment we have is NOW. 

What About You?

None of us have to have cancer to consider making life changes. Some of the last 2 years I had been on my way using daily meditation, creative arts and reading & doing on-line courses to better understand the various life transitions that were mine. Retirement. Ageing. Leaving Family. Selling Our House.

What do you do to help yourself?

Thank you to my readers here who have continued to be wonderful supporters and friends of mine as I continue to journey. I am buoyed by your care and words on-line whenever we connect!

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell (who is cruising along right now!) for I Blog on Tuesdays here and with Leanne here for Lovin’ Life Linky on Thursdays.

 

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Reality Bites. Part Two. 2017.100.

Reality Bites. Part Two. 2017.100.

So a few weeks back I wrote here about ‘reality biting’ from the emotional health perspective as it started to over shadow my physical recovery. It is true that as I said back then our feelings can take longer to catch up with us. In some ways a more gentle and regular pattern of life has taken place since then and life is pretty good!

However, there have been some more moments and events where reality has bitten and I outline them here:

  • I am finding it  a challenge most days to ‘like’ the face…i.e. the mouth I see which is shrunken and ‘old lady with no teeth in’ look. Oh wait. That IS me. Old(ish!) lady with no teeth ..at the top. However, I saw myself in a photo and it’s not pretty. I am vain! I guess we all like to think we present a reasonable face to anyone. It will happen! You know it will…just going to be a few months yet.
  • I am feeling luckier as time goes on that my cancer does appear to have been isolated in that one place in my mouth but IF I let my imaginative thoughts take over I anticipate more cancer in my future. Note to self: remember mindfulness and living for today
  • I am hungry and wanting to eat from a nutrition and enjoyable perspective but I am very limited by foods which require virtually no chewing and can be swallowed with no chance of choking. Oops: I remember this well when I ‘try’ to eat some small pieces of cooked chicken within a soup I have blended and I manage not to choke but to remember that I cannot chew. Note well…OK? Sigh.
  • I have a great desire to have the rest of this year on fast forward to the days when I can eat well and without much restriction but that’s not going to happen. I was reminded of this limitation again when I did my first mini supermarket shop last week and had to say to myself: can’t have chips, can’t have meat, can’t have ANY thing that is hard, crunchy or needs chewing. In 2018 this will be different. Be patient ..LOL.

I posted this photo recently and had so many positive comments about my appearance. For a while though I wondered why I felt defensive about my loss of weight because it has not been intentional. I feel I have to justify my weight loss (over 3+years) because it did come at a ‘cost’ thanks to anxiety and IBS. But..I reflected on this too because for the many years I was very overweight I was using food as a comfort. My slow and gradual weight loss has made me realise that in many ways it has also helped me to feel more content at this size and I am certainly more physically comfortable and I think my recovery was assisted by me being this size.

But you know what I do actually say to myself now?

  • I am so fortunate to have recovered well from a MOST major and complex surgery where part of my leg was made to fit into my upper part of my mouth to give me, over time, teeth and gums and a S M I L E to be proud of.
  • I have the best support person in the world…who is also incredibly patient with this ex-patient…and that of course is my husband who I paid tribute to here.
  • I have my 100% independence back now. I can look after myself in terms of hygiene…oh I do need some help with covering my leg to have a shower…and dressing. I still need the nurses to visit to dress my leg wounds but they are going well too. I can walk well with no boot and I can drive. This has all come about in the past week to 10 days.
  • I am, as they say, #blessed!

Some photos showing my progress. This post is published just under 7 weeks since my surgery on 6 July 2017.

This will be the last of the posts about my cancer diagnosis and surgery for a while. As I recover more over the next few months I will be back into other topics and those of interest each week. I appreciate that the number of commenters and the amount of support I have had since I announced I had cancer has buoyed me through much of this time. Big thanks to you all.

How have you managed when being ill or post surgery?

Are you someone who has little patience or are you someone who can wait?

Have you ever cared for someone post-surgery or who has a major illness?

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell here for I Blog On Tuesdays and with Leanne here for her Linky called Lovin’ Life on Thursdays.

 

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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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Reality Bites. Part One. 2017.96.

Reality Bites.Part One. 2017.96.

Today, 6 August 2017, as I write, it is exactly ONE month since my cancer surgery on 6 July 2017.

I am calling this post ‘Reality Bites’ as the consequences of the diagnosis of cancer, the pre-op visits and treatments and then the ultimate ‘reality’…. the complex and major surgery in my mouth and on my right leg have truly ‘bitten’.

I am writing it out so I can honestly tell you, my readers, that I am NOT doing so well in that emotional sphere at the moment.

This is despite my previous posts where I appeared to be going so well. I was/am in a physical sense.

Readers who want to read more about what this surgery was about can go here:

my diagnosis….my updatesmy grateful post #1my grateful post #2.

Reality has bitten in the form of a heightened emotional response (and IBS frequency) to what has happened to me…my feelings are catching up with what I have been through – from date of diagnosis 17.5.17 till now. (less than 3 months!)

Here is how it is for me NOW as I recall memories that are not great and are affecting me somewhat even though I know things will get better over time.

  • Wow, it’s been one month since the huge operation which I  knew was going to (hopefully) take all of the cancer out of my mouth and leave me with a reconstructed mouth using tissue and bone from my right leg.
  • I recall my feelings of being totally overwhelmed when the surgeons began to describe how they would ‘fix’ this cancer in my mouth only one day after I found out I HAVE cancer.
  • I got through the drive home after that with my hub on my least favourite road (M1) as I tried to wrestle the past 24-48 hours into some sort of sense for me. It was surreal.
  • At home I ‘tried’ to go on with ‘normal life’ but that is impossible when the word C A N C E R shone like a red light in my mind constantly.

“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.

I’ve written two posts (see above) which described how things went for me in hospital so I will not outline any more here today.

The next post will outline what happened emotionally in hospital and then my homecoming. I have chosen to write about it all from an emotional perspective as life as a cancer patient post-surgery is affecting me and writing it out is to help me.

At home in my first weeks.

Have you had cancer?

Do you have an experience of having a life-changing event for you where things caught up with you later on?

I appreciate your comments and support. I am not looking to ‘get advice’ as I think that in recognising what is happening to me and letting it happen is probably the healthiest way I know how.

Thank you for your support!

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie and friends here for I Blog On Tuesdays and here with Leanne and friends on Thursday for Lovin’ Life linky.

 

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