Friday 27th May 2022

My A-Z. Taking Stock. 5 Years. #HNC. #LifesStories. 34/2022.

My A-Z. Taking Stock. 5 Years. #HNC. #LifesStories. 34/2022.

This is my first Taking Stock post in 2022 and I am taking the chance to recount the “adventure” that has been having had oral cancer, a form of head and neck cancer, for 5 years.

Here is mine. And the new-to-me logo and the list is at the end of the post for copying if you choose, along with this image being in the side bar of the blog.

 

But first, a story that is funny. Well, at least “I” think so.

When I saw the kind blogger Deb from here: Debs World paying tribute to my version of Taking Stock recently I was chuffed. Deb has been doing Taking Stock, the traditional one from Pip Lincolne , found here, along with my new-to-some A-Z version. I checked my list of prompts out, and the image I had on the blog…..and counted: 1 to 22…ummm there ARE still 26 letters in the alphabet, Denyse…so, oops, I have now amended!

And as I am off to see Dad again today in Sydney, I will be back to read and comment later.

2017 to 2022. Taking Stock of my Head & Neck Cancer. 

admiring the amazing ways in which my head and neck cancer team reconstructed inside my mouth

becoming more at ease now with the idea that my five years since diagnosis and surgeries and all are coming to an end in September 2022 at my final surveillance visit to my head and neck cancer team

curious to see how my continued mouth and prosthesis checks will go each 6 months for the rest of my life I am told

delighted that, in the course of head and neck cancer journey I have made many new friends and connected with them virtually or in real life so we support each other

excited to see my Professor Jonathan Clark AM and his surgical Nurse Assistant Cate Froggatt in September but 

feeling quite emotional as it will be my last ever surveillance check with them at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse

going is a useful word to use post cancer recoveries because I always say “I am going well” …covers a myriad of possible answers but requires little response because quite honestly, HOW MUCH do I really want to tell people..not a lot. I fear it may not be 

helping me or them to be perfectly honest because in the end sometimes a polite response is the best

imploring those who follow me to get a mouth check at each 6 monthly dental visit. Please do get to your dentist every 6 months. And also, see your GP about any suspicious pain/lumps/bumps too:

See here, and at the end of this post….

 

joking at times is an Aussie way of dealing with some really tough times isn’t it? We tend to play down what we find the most threatening. I admit, I was told, now I realise it was a joke, four years on, that when I got my upper prosthesis (teeth attached to the jaw that was made for me from my leg), that I couldn’t leave till I bit into an apple. Seriously. Nah, it wasn’t and no I cannot even do that these days….

knowing I was in the best place for me with the best people possible for my cancer filled me with both hope and confidence. Always.

loving that I could always get my surgeon into a selfie with me at our visits…

Prof Jonathan Clark AM.

making the most of my understanding of good health nutritionally as well as enjoying the food I can actually eat by paying attention to my health professionals after the first BIG surgery because they knew more than I did.

Ready….for the video made for head and neck cancer Australia with me sharing what I had learned from the dietitian.

next is to note how very proud I am to have come through such challenging health times (they were!) and yet I know now so much more about myself as a woman of strength and courage that may not have come about as they have…

observing that there is a fine line between being grateful for life lessons (this was a major one) and also that it has been so fortunate too that my cancer is as I understand it rare of rare (thanks Prof JC) and unlikely to return

posting on the blog has been a great way in which to let me share my feelings and experiences and also for others to support and cheer me on, and it is now a bank of posts under this heading for others looking for head and neck cancer information

questioning that this cancer is so not known and yet it is very much more common than realised, and many people die of a head and neck cancer because symptoms may have been ignored or dismissed by a medical or dental professional, so it’s why I continue to share, and hopefully a person …

reading this or a tweet or a facebook update may have information that is relevant to them or someone they know

staying  vigilant about my mouth care. I need to see my regular dentist every 6 months and the prosthodontist in Sydney too

trying to be less head and neck cancer focussed in my day to day life, which is why, when I became somewhat burnt out last year doing too much physically and emotionally sharing HNC news, that my…

understanding G.P., husband and CEO of HANCA were very kind in helping me see that I could still help and have some roles but no longer in person

viewing my images. I remain pretty obsessed with my changing face, smile and mouth over the years.

2017. July Major Surgery. Nov Day Surgery

2018. Day Surgeries: Feb & May. Upper Prosthesis August.

welcoming the ways in which people who don’t know about my oral cancer story can be informed more if they show some interest

X – you choose and mostly they do, and with my education love at the heart of what I do I am always there to say,

yes what would you like to know more about

Z – you choose and if there is no interest of course, I am respectful of that person. And, I sip my double shot small latte quietly!

Love this again: coffee sitting at a cafe. 2021.

Sunday 22 May, at Porter’s Creek I made this little 13 second video of gratitude:

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/WlluRTC6OhM

 

 

That’s my Take for Taking Stock.

Here is the list for anyone who would like to try it.

  • admiring
  • becoming
  • curious
  • delighted
  • excited
  • feeling
  • going
  • helping
  • imploring
  • joking
  • knowing
  • loving
  • making
  • next
  • observing
  • posting
  • questioning
  • reading
  • staying
  • trying
  • understanding
  • viewing
  • welcoming
  • X – you choose
  • yes
  • Z – you choose

Thank you for reading, commenting and also linking up a blog post if you had the chance!

Denyse.

Denyse Whelan Blogs Is a Community

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

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Denyse Whelan.

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About Mother’s Day. 30/2022.

About Mother’s Day. 30/2022.

 

I am writing about Mother’s Day. If you believe you might be triggered by the content please proceed carefully. This is just one woman’s story. Mine.

Today as I write, tomorrow, Sunday 8 May 2022, will be Mother’s Day here in Australia and other countries which celebrate this in May too.

It’s a day that can be fraught with sadness, dosed with some anger and maybe even some fear, and using the words from those who sell flowers, chocolates and cards, perhaps some manufactured affection.

And for some it can be full of love, appreciation and gratitude to show the mother in your life something of the way you feel about her.

In my case, Mum died over 15 years ago, and it has taken me around the past two years or so to really understand and appreciate the love and care she had for me ….because I was far too busy being concerned about external pressures (Hello Dad) to make Mother’s Day what I was told from a very early age what it was about. And I miss being able to share my thoughts with her now as a result. Tell people what you want to share before they die!

We Didn’t Know This Would Be Mum’s Last Mother’s Day…..2006.

Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves can be not only damaging but untrue. I know!

In my now much, ahem, wiser years, I wanted to write about what has changed for me.

My Mother.

She lived a very challenging life as a young woman in a two generation household with her own Mum caring for her three as well as her brother’s two after their Mum died. Mum married Dad in 1946 and faced many difficult times but conquered a lot. She always was a mother who was present and after school it was great to come home to a home cooked afternoon tea. I wrote about Mum (Noreen) and her mother (Vera), and my Aunty (Poppy) as well as my Dad’s Mum (Etta) here as part of Women of Courage. 

Since chatting to Dad (who has an amazing memory) in the past year or so, I learned a lot about Mum’s courage. She was also deaf for most of her adult life. She used to be the most caring grandmother and enjoyed seeing 3 of her great grandchildren arrive. Mum was impeccable in her dress and her ability to make people feel at ease when entertaining. This from an anxious woman was remarkable. I am learning, and have already, to soften any negativity about Mum and my memories as I realise she was expressing some fears and concerns she had for me, from a position of LOVE.

About Me Being a Mother.

Truly, I won’t make this long. I have written about it here: Telling My Story about our daughter’s arrival in our lives, and then here, in Telling My Story about our son and his longed for arrival. I admit it was hard becoming a mother so quickly in my first year of marriage and I was not built to stay at home. Fortunately I could always secure great child care for both the kids. To have our son was a battle for fertility which was won.

Our daughter on my shoulders…

Our son’s early days.

How I View Myself as a Mother.

I am a hard judge brought up by one. Dad. So, I do give myself somewhat of a hard time about some aspects of my relationship with our children growing up. And once they were grown and had left home. I admit I was, by dint of personality and my life, someone who tried to help far too much when not asked and in fact, could be bossy and I know, NOW, how that was for my kids and for that I am sorry. They already know this. I do know that I love them and want the best for them.

We live away from them and their families and see them infrequently but they are always in my thoughts and I wish them well, every single day as they make their lives work for them and their children…

Becoming a Grandmother.

Over 25 years ago, this event changed my life and the way I love another human who is related to me forever. I was so fortunate to have days and nights helping care for almost all of our now eight grandchildren and this is memorable.

I remember meeting each on on the days/nights of their births. Such a joy and privilege to be “Grandma”.

So, why write this today?

To ease the burden I have held for far too long of expectations around “Mother’s Day”…

it can be such a great and casual time or it can be a mishmash of other emotions. Right now, before I press publish, I am hoping to have a phone call or face time with each of our kids on Mother’s Day but if it doesn’t happen it’s OK too. Their lives are FULL of responsibilities. They know I love them and I know they love me.

My tribute to Mum, and Being a Mum and Grandma is this collage:

Middle shot is Mum, holding my hand in around 1952, with her Mum (Nanny to me) admonishing someone in the background.

Left collage is of our son, right collage our daughter, and bottom is the wonderful family photo I got for my 70th Birthday.

Bottom left, is Mum holding our son in 1979 and Bottom right is Mum with our daughter’s first child.

Happy Mother’s Day to Me….and all the Mums I know who wish to celebrate and commemorate being a Mother.

On Monday my post is about a Mother’s Day in 2017 where I was one very worried woman.

Take care,

Denyse.

 

 

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April Brings Autumn Memories. #Life’sStories. #LinkUp. 27/2022.

Welcome to Life’s Stories. I hope you enjoy my story and link up yours too for me and others to enjoy.

April Brings Autumn Memories. #Life’sStories. #LinkUp. 27/2022.

Some months and seasons make great memories.

Photos and stories shared.

This post looks quite a way back to the years 2012 to 2016.

And then to 2017. A very worrying time for me, personally. Cancer would be diagnosed in mid May 2017.

2018: that meant head and neck cancer recovery and moving to a new place.

Onto 2019, 2020 2021 for more stories…..

And finally, this Autumnal April 2022. 

April and Autumn.

Autumn is usually very pleasant and cool in the evenings with lovely days. This has NOT been the case always…as you will see. In April 2015, we were inundated by an ‘east coast low” weather pattern that left this:

and us with no electricity or phone (mobile could be used at times) for almost 5 days!

 

It has often been time for the Royal Easter Show in Sydney. A big tradition in my life, and I made it one for our children and grandchildren over the years. Once the venue moved to Homebush after the Sydney Olympics in 2000 it became a pleasure to visit because I could park the car close to a bus stop and we would travel directly to the Show on an all inclusive ticket. These images are from April 2014, the last time I went to the Show.

 

2012-2014 we were living in our family home in Sydney’s north west and caring for grandkids. Autumn leaf play in 2012 with 2 dear grandkids…

2015-2016 we had moved to the Central Coast of N.S.W. and some of the grandkids visited.

And on 25 April it is A.N.Z.A.C. Day. Remembering the sacrifice of men & women from Australia and New Zealand who helped keep us safe.

2015. Centenary of Australia & New Zealand at Gallipoli.

But I am never sick of searching for Autumn trees, leaves and even having a go at painting them!

April 2017.

The garden where we were living then had great Autumnal displays & I even painted the pansies:

 

And I loved getting this image from the local bridge area:

 

I had a very sore mouth as I had already been through the removal of the upper bridge and teeth and yet…nothing was better. In fact it was worse but…I smiled (uneasily) on….

April 2018. Moving House.

We were grateful to find a new, and more modern house where we still live. Moving still sucks…and with me in treatment for more processes of my mouth reconstruction it was a particularly stressful time for me. Highlights here were family birthdays and school holiday visits from grandchildren with their parents.

April 2019.

I went to Newcastle Writers Festival and was well into adjusting to my upper prosthesis. I continued to enjoy art. And we had some pretty flowers growing outside.

April 2020. Covid Is Here.

My first Covid test, we got our flu vaccinations. We had no idea of what was to come in terms of lockdowns and travel restrictions but we stayed put. One granddaughter visited briefly on her way to stay with other grandparents for some time.

April 2021.

Yes we had a reprieve of sorts from lockdowns and covid restrictions. This meant visits to us and we went to a special birthday picnic.

I also rose very early on A.N.Z.A.C. Day 2021 to see the sun rise on 25 April. I spent time reflecting on those brave souls who came onto the beach at Turkey to be…mostly killed. Vale those men.

April 2022.

This is the learning to live with Covid part of life now, and we had 4th vaccinations last week and will have flu vaccinations at the end of this week.

A different usual Easter for us. No family visiting and we stayed home. Whilst we miss seeing the grandkids and parents, life has moved on in many ways and the oldest 3 are adults with their own lives, and the younger 5 grandkids are with other parents or away on hols. We went for a drive and walk at Norah Head Lighthouse on Good Friday. After a lot of rain in past weeks, it was so good outside.

I also drove to Dee Why to see my Dad before Easter. He no longer wants his photo taken. We had a good chat and afterwards I re-visited some places from my life living near Manly.

I had this reflection after my time spent walking around…and I am honouring it with this image: I feel like I am HOME here.

 

And I couldn’t let Easter approach without sharing some goodies of appreciation with our local family G.P. clinic. We are so grateful for their care.

And sadly, we heard that a NZ friend who had a serious head and neck cancer had died. I visited my favourite place of contemplation to honour him.

A.N.Z.A.C. Day 2022.

Today, 25.4.2022,  is this special day of commemoration and paying tribute to those who died for us to live this life now.

It is the day the post goes live, so I thought it appropriate to end this post…..here.

 

And this poem, a moving one for me and many. I am reminded always of where my late paternal grandfather helped the wounded in France. Only to return to Australia and in 1935 to succumb to early death after a workplace injury. I wrote the poem out for Dad on this painting of mine and he still has it on display.

I know some of my readers are into Spring right now as we are getting more deeply into Autumn….

What particular memories do you have for the month of April?

Denyse.

Denyse Whelan Blogs Is a Community

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post… NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a kind thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

*You are welcome to add my link up’s image to your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Month

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

*This link up opens at 5.00 a.m Australian eastern time on the Mondays of dates on Home Page, and closes at 5.00 p.m. on the Wednesday of that week.

*I commit to visiting your blog and to  comment on your post.

Denyse Whelan.

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What Is Your Legacy? 25/2022.

What Is Your Legacy? 25/2022.

 

This post contains some thoughts of mine about old age, dying, regret, love & old familial relationships. I know some people may be affected by reading my thoughts. They are just my thoughts. I tell my story with my truth and honesty. Always. However, to protect certain people there are no names or situations/settings mentioned. Denyse.

 

 

 

I really never gave this question, ‘what is your legacy?’  much thought until I watched Hamilton and then knew the lyrics so well I was stopped in my tracks when I heard Alexander Hamilton speak (Lin Manuel Miranda credit) these lines almost at the end:

Wow.

Had I ever thought of what my legacy might be? No.

Had I ever considered that I might share with someone what HIS/HER legacy for me has been?

Well, yes, I can.

What happened next?

After seeing visions like these

 

and remembering Lin’s amazing words…..

Masked Up for Hamilton in Sydney May 2021.

I decided to share with my 98 year old Dad, what his legacy was for me.

But wait.

It is about the richness of the individual’s life, including what that person accomplished and the impact he or she had on people and places. Ultimately, the story of a person’s life reflects the individual’s legacy. Wikipedia.

Now, read on!

I have been at odds with my father over the years. But always knew he loved/s me and cares for and about me.

I have also known how much he welcomed me into his life when he and Mum had me in 1949. Not a familiar pose for us, but here we are on my wedding day 1971.

 

A memory of Dad, Mum and my brother for his special zero birthday in 2002.

Mum died in 2007 and Dad has spent the past 15 years alone. He moved from the family home in 2011 to an independent living unit where he remains. Mum’s dying words, were, to an extent “look after your father”….and of course, whilst he IS independent I have tried to do this.

 

But for his 9oth Birthday above, he actually had to pass on much of the planning and organisation (to me, my brother & sil, and his grandkids too) for this event to be as special as it was. He STILL refers to the emotional reaction it caused 8 years later.

Dad did have a lot happen in his life, not least, when his Dad died in 1935 leaving him, his older sister and younger siblings with no father. This part of Telling My Story tells more.

Personality types that are similar will often clash. Yes, that is us. Both Type A and want to be in control and in charge. 

Has it helped my relationship with my dad that I continued to hold old memories of being judged?

No not really. Nor has it helped my conflict within me.

 

Easy to read…and to say…harder to do but OH so worth it!

Lessing judging, and comparing and BEing…where you are

 

What did it take for things to thaw and to change?

I can truthfully say that I needed to accept my responsibility for my behaviour, thinking and feeling. 

This is not an easy thing to do BUT it requires:

  • acceptance
  • self compassion
  • kindness
  • examination of any evidence
  • and love….

Most of my thinking was concerned with perceptions of what “he” thought about me and I acknowledge that I “believed” this too. I cannot really rehash those details because they no longer serve me. I had some parts of  rubbish thinking  to question (is it true? how do you know?) and to examine and then let them go.

It has taken me the past five years to do this. And, the most recent 6 or so months for it all to come together in my mind.

Naturally my practice of meditation each day and night has helped change my thoughts and beliefs, as has some of the reading and learning from many sources.

Having a serious illness called cancer diagnosed for me in May 2017 was a game-changer of sorts because I had much to do to get myself well, and Dad would let me know how much he considered me both brave and strong.

In fact, even lately he has told me: I don’t think I could have ever done what you did. And he also told me that about taking on the principal role as he said I was offered a CEO role, and knocked it back. I didn’t want to be away from home.

What Did I Share With Dad? 

Dad, you’ve left me a legacy of:

Music and singing along with it….we know how much you enjoyed music in your life, as Gran played piano and taught it too. And yes, dear readers, I am a music lover from the war years, sentimental tunes and songs from musicals. Dad was the person who organised for me & bro to see the Beatles.

Enjoying socialising and the company of others for a meal, coffee and catch up.

Education Oh how much I am glad of this life long love of it that I have been so fortunate, Dad, that you encouraged and insisted on getting tertiary qualifications and we all know how that went. Very well indeed. Dad actually has what he refers to as history lessons each week with friends where he lives. He loves keeping his mind active

Love & care for family. At times it may not have been done subtly and at times I may not be as patient as I could be either Dad, but we know how much we love and care for our family…and in their ways they love us.

Interacting .…reading,  news watching, listening  and engaging with some topics. I also cannot engage with dad on some, so we leave that!!

Organisation and planning. Yes, thanks Dad.

With My Dad, His Mother (Gran, left) and her Mother, Nana (r)

And it’s not what WE think may be our legacy that matters, it’s what others consider to be the legacy.

I know Dad was quite chuffed and taken aback when I shared this with him recently.

Have you got someone in your life that you’d feel sharing the legacy they have left for you is important to share? As Mum used to say “tell people what their lives have meant to you BEFORE their funerals!” Good one, Mum. And yes, we did for you!

Denyse.

Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share today

Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

 

 

 

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