Wednesday 22nd May 2019

Musings On 2 Years Of Living As A Head & Neck Cancer Patient. 56/2019.

Musings On 2 Years Of Living As A Head & Neck Cancer Patient. 56/2019.

I have written frequently over the last two years about my diagnosis with a rare head and neck cancer. You can find the many posts, and ones where I have shared on other sites here. I keep the posts at the top of my blog’s home page to help any other head and neck cancer patients and their families.

Musing One.

What has happened this month?

I am a memory-keeper and in some instances that can be good, others memories remind me of not-so-good times. As May 2019 drew closer, so did the second anniversary of my head and neck cancer diagnosis. I sensed that I needed to mark it in some ways, and that was through writing starting even before May. I also used my creative side and constructed a big mandala documenting every day since diagnosis.

I did these to help me through and to show, when I shared, what the experience was like for me.

Thanks to this blog, and a facebook page along with instagram I got some caring comments and support on-line which I have always found helpful.

What I have also found is that I am the only person who really remembers the lead-up to that morning on Wednesday 17 May ’17 and then how it affected me afterwards.

I guess, “my” cancer is like any life experience that we have as an individual. It’s mine. Yes, I share. (some might think over-share: sorry!) And my dear husband “knows” the stories as he has experienced them alongside me. However, he is  was my carer and now that I am as independent as I can be, I am “the loved wife” in our long marriage. That’s great.

On my 69th Birthday 2018

Musing Two.

How has the lead-up to the anniversary been?

I thought it was good. It was like box-ticking and I felt good doing that.

Remembering what I experienced with the tests before the diagnosis. Ok. I remembered but did not over-think it.

The weather and the dates changing on the calendar also reminded me but again, I was feeling pretty good.

I had two hurdles, if you will, and they were the visit to my Prosthodontist on May 13 and to my Head and Neck surgeon on May 21. These were of concern in a way because at my last visits to each (three months earlier) there was talk of a possible fifth surgery to ‘fill out the top of my mouth.

I can tell you now, dear reader, the prospect of the surgery did not concern me nearly as much as the recovery from it…the LONG time with no top teeth and then more time with getting the mouth healed enough for a prosthesis. I have just had 8 delightful months being able to EAT again and that would be tough. Of course, the smile would change…ok.

December ’18

Musing Three.

What actually eventuated.

Visit to the Prosthodontist.

Dr Deshpande asked me about pain levels. Pain comes and goes in my mouth where it has all been reconstructed and I told him a few weeks earlier it was significant. However, as it settled I did not need to call him. I was much more confident about those calls than I ever was in 2018. He examined the upper prosthesis, the gums, and where the abutments are in the gums. Yes, there was some tiny more skin growth but nothing to be concerned about at this stage.He did a small clean around the abutments and told me what I had been doing every day was going very well and the gums were in good health. Phew. Using the waterpik twice a day was a key element. He showed me around the inside of my mouth and his nurse videoed it as best she could as he explained it all. He is so patient and very thorough and professional. After taking lots of close-ups inside my mouth he told me his view that my surgeon would be unlikely to want to do more re-construction because the skin area of concern back in January/February had not changed. Back for my check up 16 July.

Fistbump! Photo of “us” knowing each other in this professional setting for 2 years.

 

Visit to the Head and Neck Surgical Team.

This was on Tuesday 21 May. Both he and his nurse were delighted to see me and it wasn’t just because I brought cupcakes I had made. They can see a different me emerge I guess, and someone who has taken on an Ambassador role to work towards helping head and neck cancer awareness and both Professor Clark and Sr Froggatt are foundation members of Beyond Five. Again my mouth was examined and as I recalled the words of my last visit “I am a cancer doctor, so I AM looking for cancer” and it all seemed fine I was OK. He decided any choice about more surgery would be determined by what happens inside the mouth. “Could get worse, better or stay the same”. And now would not be in my best interests to do this. Phew. However, I also learned that the interval till my next visit is 4 months, not 6. And that I will require some CT scans as baseline ones. This was a wee bit threatening to my equilibrium but as I do, I went along following instructions. Before I left, I asked some questions about my mouth: here are the answers.

  1. the tightness will remain up top as so much more has been added for the re-construction than a normal mouth would have
  2. sniffing is part and parcel of having the nasal area invaded quite a few times…sniff and manage!
  3. dry top lip probably from not being able to seal off my mouth
  4. need for a new upper prosthesis? “If it ain’t broke, you don’t fix”

Then there was this. “A Photo with Denyse with her Badge on.”

Hugs and farewells and I will be back to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to have a check up on September 24.

Musing Four.

When having cancer is a reality that I am reminded of every time I visit Sydney for cancer treatments.

Westmead.

Where I see the prosthodontist. I lived in western Sydney and had never been to the Dental part of the hospital until May 24 2017. Since then I have been 37 times. Each time could be lengthy and required patience from me in spades. However, there were some visits that were emotionally bumpy and Dr D and O handled my state of health brilliantly. When I was there recently, the lady of the front desk said “Denyse, we are like family”.

That was lovely. I would not have met so many kind people there without a rare mouth cancer, and where the expertise was right there. Someone working alongside my surgeon in each surgery. Wow. Talk about fortunate.

Camperdown.

Specifically Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, slap back in the midst of Sydney’s major health precinct on Missenden Road. Sydney University on one side, Royal Prince Alfred on the other, and new buildings mixed with the historical on either side.

This is where I first met my professional team one day after being told I had cancer.

I had my husband with me of course. He was (and is) the patient man by my side. So, I recall, being there for the first time, seeing this amazing purpose-built cancer centre which had come from the vision of Dr Chris O’Brien who was on our telly as part of the reality series R.P.A. Such a professional and friendly head and neck surgeon with heart. I sensed I was in the right place WITH the right people straight away. Finding out later that my surgeon had trained under Chris O’Brien made me feel even better about what was ahead. And so Lifehouse was where I had the first BIG surgery and stayed for 10 days in July 2017, then further day surgeries in November 2017, February 2018 and May 2018. Follow ups too mean I have been there 12 times.

Musing Five.

IF I did not have cancer here’s what I may have missed in my life….

  1. the opportunity to take on new information and run with it. I learned I can deal with more than I ever imagined.
  2. getting to know people from the health fields who amaze me with their professionalism, the wealth of knowledge, their compassion, their skills and their genuine humanity
  3. being able to recover as quickly as I did from the decline in my emotional health which was ‘strangling my enjoyment of life’ from 2014 to mid 2017
  4. meeting people from all walks of life: in real life and on-line, a facebook group in New Zealand is an amazing space,  who have also been diagnosed with head and neck cancers: Yet, I still have not met anyone that has had mine exactly: Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Upper Gums & under Top Lip: no risk factors of smoking or alcohol: rare of rare ME.
  5. the many ways in which I could grow and change to become ‘the Denyse’ I wanted and needed to be again: strong, positive, confident
  6. sharing my story of this cancer and being able to offer help when asked to others with head and neck cancers
  7. becoming someone with a role to play in terms of education and awareness of head and neck cancers working with Beyond Five. The charity to support patients, carers and family members with information, videos, print-outs and connections to local support groups as those affected with head and neck cancer need support “beyond five” years of the traditional
  8. to take more time to actually enjoy what is rather than be longing for what’s next. I add, this is me as a definite “w-i-p” because it requires constant reminding from me to me
  9. a greater appreciation for those who have been part of my life and have added their emotional and other support to me over the internet, phonecalls and visits, along with cards and gifts. I have been spoiled!
  10. to take what I have experienced and give back. I will return to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse on Monday 3 June 2019 to be in the audience to listen to my professional head and neck cancer team talk of what working with and learning from Chris O’Brien was like. This week marks 10 years since his early death due to cancer.
  11. to look at the posters and information about how Chris O’Brien Lifehouse came into being and thank the governments of the day for helping it happen. Chris was well enough to know it would be constructed but his wife Gail took over his role after his sad demise.
  12. becoming part of the community at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse even though I am not there much physically, I donate materials to the art program, I wrote a blog post for their website and I have been in a couple of other site’s telling my story including Beyond Five.

 

Musing Six.

Blogging & helping others works for me to manage my emotions relating to cancer.

I have a great group of on-line supporters who have helped carry me through this story or journey as I call it. I prefer not to use war-words like warrior and ‘beating cancer’ as I also know not everyone does. I have already known of two young women die in the past two months from cancer. Not head and neck but cancer. So it does ache to even talk about that. I know though that we have many people helping with fund-raising to support cancer research and I won’t name any others than these as they are close to my cancer-heart.

The Big Hug Box. I started making some bookmarks for Lisa to include in the Big Hug box back in 2018 and loved contributing to her charity started because as a young mum just diagnosed herself with a rare cancer, she knew patients like her could use a BIG hug. For more about Lisa’s work go here.

Beyond Five. For Head and Neck cancer patients, family and friends. This is a website and offers lots to help. It continues to grow and change but with no government funding, some donations by companies in related fields and one part-time business manager, a fund-raiser began for them in 2018 called Soup for the Soul. Soup is often a food that patients with head and neck cancer can manage and it is comforting. Soup for the Soul is already live and I have a Virtual Soup for the Soul page here. More about that as we get closer to World Head and Neck Cancer Day on 27 July.

Writing my story has helped me manage emotions, experiences and responses well. I am indeed going well two years AFTER my cancer diagnosis. Thank you for being here to read about it.

Denyse.

 

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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

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Taking Stock #2. 18/51#LifeThisWeek. 47/2019.

Taking Stock #2. 18/51#LifeThisWeek. 47/2019.

It’s that time again folks, which comes around every 9 weeks on the blog for #lifethisweek. Taking Stock originated with Pip here and I thank her for that. I have amended the list recently. I hope you enjoy what I’ve been up to. I look forward to reading your post, if you have also ‘taken stock.’

 

Making: so many little cakes. Maybe I am ‘fooling’ myself making them tiny but I look at it this way, I feel less guilt and small still has lots of icing!

Cooking: see above. And as well, quite a few meat meals in small serves for both me and my husband. I prefer a batch cook and freezing the meals. Recently it’s been sweet & sour chicken, slow cooked lamb shanks and sausages/bacon in tomato and gravy base. And pies.

Drinking: my daily double shot latte ( seen as a model for the meme for this post) 

 

Reading: I start so many books (non-fiction) and have yet to finish them. Megan Blandford’s book is one. Go Megan for sharing the story of your post-natal depression. 

 

Wanting: as I write, less pain in the parts of my upper mouth which are tight. So tight. However by the time you read this, it will likely be gone. 

Looking: at the wonderful awards won by my favourite Aussie fiction writer at the recent publishers’ awards. Go Trent Dalton and Boy Swallows Universe.

Playing: a game I liked in 2017 and enjoying it again. Not strictly a game but an app called Elevate and it’s a brain-training one and I love me a personal challenge. Back at it. It’s a paid annual one but they had 40% off so snapped it up. 

Wasting: enough time – too much I mean – considering how much I have added weight to my body since I can eat….properly and well…..and being more kind to myself as I learn more about mindful eating vs mindless eating!

Wishing: that cancer was cured. Eradicated. Gone. Done. Two friends ( one on-line and one I have met) have died far, far too young in the past 2 weeks. 

I am so sorry @curlypops  and @t_to_the_racy your time here ended too soon.

Enjoying: some quality time with my husband as we have made it our practice to go out once a week somewhere different for morning tea. 

Waiting: for not much. That is a good thing!

Liking: the fact that we live in a very modern house, the lease has been extended till April 2020 and we are content with that.

Wondering: what this year will bring to our family and relationships. Nothing mysterious in this. Just wondering as when your kids are adults and some of  their kids are adults, you can get some news about all kinds of things. 

HB to SM! A while back but I will never forget the day this beautiful butterfly joined our family!

Loving: that relationships made with our grandchildren in their early and formative years, translate into memories made even if we do not see them frequently, they have our love embedded in them.

Hoping: that the rotten   federal election is over with a clear result one way or another. Please. 

Marvelling: at nature. Always. These flowers were in pots last May. I planted them in the very small garden out the back when they stopped flowering and now, it’s May and here they are! Again.

Needing: to remember self-compassion before self-blame and it’s getting better. It really is. I highly recommend as I have written before: Dr Kristen Neff’s work.

Smelling: coffee. It is aromatic. Love it.

Wearing: more tops with sleeves, so it must be getting cooler!

Following: my education tweeps and their schools and being so proud of what public education in N.S.W. is doing for ALL kids. 

Noticing: that I am far less reactive generally. Not always but better! And I always realise “oh” and think, that could have been a better way to respond.

Knowing: I am loved. Not much more needed is there?

Thinking: How fortunate I am to have been treated by the best every professional team when I was diagnosed with my Head and Neck Cancer almost 2 years ago.

Feeling: gratitude. And for the next few weeks on the blog, will be posting about Gratitude on Tuesdays and linking up here.

Bookmarking: so many of my real books. Sigh. I love getting them. I just need to actually read them as well.

Opening: a parcel from Ebay that I did not recognise then realising I knew exactly what was inside.

Smiling: at so much these days and with so many people because I CAN smile

I hope that your weeks have been wonderful.

I hope for sunshine and warmth and rain too….it’s needed!

Very soon, on this blog, I am starting a series called Women of Courage. Each Wednesday. It promises to be a very interesting series judging by those whose words I have already received. Thanks to all.

Have a great week.

Denyse.

Linking here on Mondays with Kell for Mummy Mondays.

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: 19/51 Contentment Is…13/5/19

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April Is About.13/51#LifeThisWeek. 32/2019.

April Is About.13/51#LifeThisWeek. 32/2019.

By the end of April it’s 1/3 of the calendar year….gone!

Yet in some ways it can feel like the year has just begun.

Here’s what April is about from my perspective:

Camellias: these were from the house we last rented. Mature and beautiful flowers.

Rugged surf afternoons in school hols.

One grandchild has a birthday in April!

 

Blue Skies. The last of the Frangipani towering over the camellia at our last house.

This is how we ‘survived’ the East Coast low in April 2015. Almost 5 days with no power.

April Musings. 

My late paternal grandmother was born in April 1896. I wonder what she would make of the world now! My late Uncle (Mum’s brother) was born in April too and had a rather sad life despite being ‘the eldest and son’. It happens. Our daughter chose an April wedding day. It was a beauty weather-wise. Whilst her marriage like many did not last, the three grandkids have always had their parents there for them and now in adulthood are forging lives of their own. I have remained very good friends with my daughter’s former m-i-l and we only got together for a catch up last week!

In Australia it is the beginning, in some areas, of less daylight as we turn the clocks back and boom…6 p.m. and it’s almost dark.

Reminder: early Sunday 7 April is when ‘we put the clocks back one hour.’ It will mean we will be in the same time zone as Queensland again. Yay.

In April I am travelling to Newcastle Writers’ Festival to see two of my favourite authors speak about their books! Sunday 7 April – the Festival is from 5-7 April and held generally in the area closest to the civic centre in Newcastle. Here is the link to the site. I will be leaving home early…to drive and secure a park nearby I hope!

Rick Morton: One Hundred Years of Dirt. 10.00 a.m.

Jane Caro: Accidental Feminist 1.30 p.m.

What does April bring for you?

Denyse.

Linking here on Mondays with Kell for Mummy Mondays.

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: 14/51 Self-Care: Share Your Story #2. 8/4/19

 

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Grateful For These Women. #IWD2019. 25/2019.

Grateful For These Women. #IWD2019. 25/2019.

It happened last Friday: 8 March 2019.

International Women’s Day.

I have always known about green and purple being the colours for women but not exactly why: this might help you:

Internationally, purple is a colour for symbolizing women. Historically, the combination of purplegreen and white to symbolize women’s equality originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union in the U.K. in 1908. Purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolizes hope.
Grateful for these Women:
My tribute via Instagram and Facebook, now here is for the women who have helped shape me to be the woman I am today. I also include those who love and support me, particularly since my head and neck cancer. So, from those who went before me, and those who have been born – to me and then to my children, I salute you all. The women I am so grateful to have in my life. And as I said too, those who are not here and there are many more, are remembered with love in my heart.

Top: Mum, Her Sister My Aunty Poppy, Their Mum, My Nanny. Mid: Me with youngest GD on her BIRTHday, My daughter with her eldest & second eldest and her youngest. Bottom: Me held by paternal Gran, on left is her Mum (Nana) and my Mum on right. Three daughters of our son! With my daughter.

When is International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated around the world on the 8th of March.

What is International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when all women are recognised for their achievements. International Women’s Day was first born out of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe.

Since those early days, International Women’s Day has grown in prominence and reach, touching women in every corner of the world. The growing international women’s movement has helped make International Women’s Day a central point for action, to build support for women’s rights and their full participation in the economy, politics, community and in everyday life.

History of International Women’s Day
In 1910, Clara Zetkin, the leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. The proposal received unanimous support from over one hundred women representing 17 countries.

The very first International Women’s Day was held the following year on March 19th. Meetings and protests were held across Europe, with the largest street demonstration attracting 30,000 women. In 1913, IWD was moved to March 8th and has been held on this day ever since.


International Women’s Day in Australia

Australia’s first International Women’s Day was held in 1928 in Sydney. Organised by the Militant Women’s
Movement, women called for equal pay for equal work, an 8 hour working day for shop girls and paid leave. The next
year the event spread to Brisbane. In 1931, annual marches were launched in both Sydney and Melbourne and both marches continue to be held today.

Since these early days, International Women’s Day has continued to grow. It is a day to celebrate women’s achievements and both highlight and work to address barriers that continue to perpetuate gender inequality.


International Women’s Day today

International Women’s Day has become a time to reflect on progress, to call for change and to celebrate the courage and determination of the women who changed history, and those who will advance gender equality into the future. International Women’s Day is an occasion to review how far women have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilise for meaningful change.

About International Women’s Day

Those who cared for me (and still do!) when I was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in May 2017.

Top: Cate who has been at every surgery and is the one I see regularly on my check-ups Then: Justine who is a specialist H&N cancer nurse who helped me before the July surgery and in my recovery time at home. Then: Stef who was the oral surgeon with did my gum biopsy & was the person who sensitively told me on Wed 17 May ’17, “squamous cell cancer is in the gums”. Last: never least: Ofelia who has been by my side whether I am laughing or crying at my prosthodontist appointments.

My life, since head and neck cancer, has been enhanced by my social life. Even when it looked like it might be a bit hard, I managed to get out as much as possible – and still do, so I can meet up with people I know via blogging and on-line.

I am grateful always for connections…and made a collage of these and some more friends I have met with.

My tribute to the women on International Women’s Day 2019, #IWD2019.

What did you do on International Women’s Day?

I am grateful for my blog’s followers & to join in Australian-based link ups each Monday, Tuesday, and on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays

 

As I wrote last week on gratitude here, for #ztt is is an antidote to fear.

Thank you Min for #ZenTipsTuesday which I will link up for here.

Denyse.

On Wednesday I link here with Sue and Leanne for Midlife Share The Love.

Thursdays my link up to follow is Lovin Life with Leanne here.

And on Fridays here with Alicia for Open Slather.

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Share Your Snaps #2. 10/51.#LifeThisWeek. 24/2019.

Share Your Snaps #2. 10/51.#LifeThisWeek.  24/2019.

A week of being out and near water……from the past 10 days…here on N.S.W. Central Coast and a bit further north. Hairstyles on me courtesy of the wind conditions. I love being by the water and when it can capture my full attention like this!

Saturday at Canton Beach: Tuggerah Lake.

 

Tuesday after a stressful morning…..ahhhhh a Beach Walk at Lakes Beach! 

Wednesday at The Entrance. Look carefully at the little shapes…fishies! 

Thursday a big change swept through…but it did not stop me. Love the beach to myself.

Friday I drove about 45 minutes up the coast to a part of Lake Macquarie: Toronto. Magical spot.

My face when I am near the water! Oh and the seagull who was NOT camera-shy!

The water and its surrounds is a healing space for me. Is it for you?

Denyse.

Looking forward to seeing your snaps if you are joining in and to read your posts.

Kell is running her link up here on Mondays.

Alicia has moved hers here to Fridays.

Do 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 Week’s Optional Prompt: 11/51 It’s MY Favourite….18/3/19

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Appreciation in August. #1. 2018.69.

Appreciation in August. #1. 2018.69.

Update: This post is being shared to a new link up called: Zen Tips Tuesday here on Write of the Middle’s blog.

My post is about how I overcame. and continue to overcome my anxious thoughts and physical experiences, that are NOT wonderful, in order to live the best life I can as a post-Head and Neck Cancer diagnosis patient.

 

Thanks to my readers and commenters I am continuing a more ‘on the spot’ post and perhaps adding to my stories of what I would like to share.

In line with this title: Appreciation.….Today I am thankful for:

Opportunities to share my story about my head and neck cancer diagnosis and what has followed since 17 May 2017

  • My blog has, of course, been the main way of sharing since then
  • This year a number of organisations have taken note of my blog’s purpose in keeping readers updated with my cancer treatment and progress and approached me to write a post for them or to engage a writer on my behalf.
  • Both versions occurred: Here with Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.…and Here with Beyond Five and most recently here with  Cancer Aid App
  • The connections I have made on-line in groups on Facebook, for example this one and then meeting people from a local group continue to add to my knowledge of what others are doing in managing both the cancer diagnosis and treatments along with post-cancer life
  • I was approached by one newly made friend who is also a head and  neck survivor, to write about what I do each day to both be active and busy but to be mindful in my post-cancer surgery times and into the 14th month of recovery

I understand that each and every person, with a cancer diagnosis or not, will find ways in which to live their lives in semi or full retirement.

I am only one person…who has found the transition to retirement an anxious one. I have written about it here  

However, knowing it was up to ME to make things work better for me each day, I used my instincts and skills…and some creative thoughts to determine this:

The emotional impact of cancer cannot be under-stated but I have taken steps to ensure my physical and emotional health are priorities. I do this by:

  • Getting dressed each day with purpose, having a photo taken and posted on Instagram. This keeps me connected and within a routine I enjoy. Losing weight before the cancer was diagnosed and keeping it stable while recovering meant I could celebrate with buying new clothes

From 30 Oct, I did an Outfit of the Day post…now into my 10th month!

  • Taking notice of the world outside – the natural one in particular – by driving the the local beaches and walking or just taking in the scenes with all of my senses or just looking skywards and seeing the clouds and patterns. I also post a photo with #noticenaturedaily on Instagram

The week before #4 surgery

  • Creating art or designing mandalas and colouring them and making patterns to colour and decorating cards. Whatever I make I add to Instagram with #createdaily2018
  • Completed Mandala

  • Being a sociable person and meeting up with friends when I can and even if I go out alone (which I actually enjoy too) I engage in conversation with others as much as possible. I have learned long ago not to be self-conscious of ‘no teeth’ in my upper mouth.

Coffee & Morning Tea. Can only eat 1/3 of a scone out! Messy.

  • Staying interested and informed via reading newspapers, commenting on others’ blogs and generally taking an interest in the lives of those I may have met or am still to meet via social media.

I wear this to remember I AM!

That’s my Appreciation in August for this week! But before I go: on World Head and Neck Cancer Day 2018 last Friday I felt a great need to visit here and enjoy the space, sounds and more….but to also give thanks for all the beach has helped me through so much since we moved away from Sydney in 2015.

What are you thankful or grateful for this week?

Denyse.

Joining Leanne and friends here for Lovin’ Life Linky each Thursday.

My blogging friend from Ballarat is starting a first day of the month linky called Good Grateful. I think it’s always a great plan to reflect on gratitude! In fact, I AM grateful to her for rekindling old blogging friendships recently which spurred me on to making a Blog Roll on this blog!

Thanks so much Caz! Her blog is called Room For My Soul. I wish you well and will be there for sure! 

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Best Gift Ever. 3/52. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2019.

Best Gift Ever. 3/52. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2019.

The best gift ever has given me food for thought.

I have had some great gifts in my life including these:

  • parents who gave me life, shelter, education, care and loveand who were wed for over 60 years.
  • a man I met and married within 3 months who has loved me for over 48 years now as I have him. This is on our wedding day, 23 January 1971.

  • the first gift of a child: our daughter (story is here) and then much later, our son (story soon!) and even though we did not know much about parenting, both are doing well in their adult lives.
  • a career in K-6 education in New South Wales schools which took me from probationary teacher to school principal thanks to the gifts of others who saw the potential in me, degree courses I completed with loving support from my family, and the children, teachers and parents of the many schools. Latterly I enjoyed teaching and supervising pre-service Masters’ students at University. On many occasions I was glad I could help these people and share what had been shared to me as gifts in my career.
  • the gift of meeting people and socialising is one I enjoy and to this end am doing it in a new area and loving making new connections socially: on-line and in real life, as they say!
  • I love the gift I have been given as someone who notices nature, enjoys solitude from time to time, and has learned so much about herself during some times of turbulence in recent years.
  • The gift I have been given of enjoying art and especially making mandalas has also seen me make 100s of bookmarks to help a charity called The Big Hug Box.
  • How good is it to give back! My story was also in a book that was published. What a gift that was.

But what about cancer? Is THAT a gift? 

I cannot finish this post without mentioning my fairly recent brush with the big C and what a gift that has been.

  • Life is a matter of how it’s viewed by the individual.
  • I do not like having had cancer because of many of the ramifications in my life, yet I know its presence has been a present. Let me explain more!
  • I was in a major life transition which had, in its own way, strangled my confidence and demeanour because of the grief involved. Yet I had some ideas of how to help myself.
  • That series of ideas was supplemented by the gift of amazing professional support, amazing and unending personal support and many hours of time to both learn and absorb.
  • When it was found that I had cancer, up from within me, emerged what had been hidden for almost 3 years and over time, my personal qualities of determination, belief in my surgical and oral health teams and in my capacity to heal and that I could share my story with others as I have and do.

The Best Gift is:

  • A return to “Denyse”. She had been long gone and I am so glad she is back.
  • This is my best gift: I am back. It does not matter I am ageing – that’s a privilege, nor that I have some physical scars I cannot overcome – they’re part of my history now and I am so glad to be here and look at my image in the mirror to say:

Hello, looking OK for someone who’s been through so much.

Well-done, you!

 

What is your best gift?

Denyse.

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!

Joining Alicia here for Open Slather and Kell here for Mummy Mondays.

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 4/51. What Is Hope? 28/1/19.


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