Tuesday 28th June 2022

35/51 #LifeThisWeek. Telling My Story. Ch. 26. Part 2/3. May-August 2021.106/2021.

Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Six. 2021. Part 2/3. May – August.

The backstory first:

FOUR years ago now ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at Chapter Twenty Six. Telling the story as 2021 progresses in three parts. Today is Part Two. May-August 2021.

So, in keeping with my ethical approach to all things, I am making the chapters about MY recollections to various changes in life for me, and us, and life as we knew it. I hope I can continue sharing the story without any intentionally negative or hurtful references to others who are in my life as friends and family members. All of the stories to date found here.

And with this chapter, a recent photo…taken overlooking the harbour at Dobroyd near where I grew up close to Manly N.S.W.


May 2021.

We had pretty good weather in May. We got outside even more. The covid ‘stuff’ had settled. However, we could never be quite sure of its whereabouts so we did “wearing a mask” when asked inside, and I know I was pretty casual about signing in using the State Government QR code. No-one was really practising social distancing but living on the coast, we did not have too many concerns.

We did not travel to Sydney for Mother’s Day this year even though I could have. It just wasn’t happening.

I got to celebrate my 4 years since my Head and Neck cancer diagnosis with a much anticipated visit to Sydney’s Lyric Theatre where I saw Hamilton.

Yes it was everything I had hoped and more. Wonderful.

That week I also came back to Westmead for a 6 month mouth check with my prosthodontist. All is well.

I stopped on my way home at a cafe in a nursery where I used to meet up with friends in Sydney days. It was lovely but it had changed as had I.

June. What happened?

We were continuing to be lulled into some kind of normality, living without too many restrictions and life was pretty good.

I visited my Dad to celebrate his 10 years living in his independent retirement Unit. He is going well.

I had my 6 months check with my regular dentist and he was very pleased with how well I care for my mouth and 8 teeth now! It’s always a treat going to him because we have such a history and he is a great cheerleader too.

I was delighted to recall that my head and neck cancer nurse, Cate, was a Woman of Courage on the blog too. But….the head and neck cancer group getting to Canberra was not able to happen because of Covid restrictions in Victoria and I took a reality check. The reality check for me was about how I would be able to eat when away from home over 3 nights and it was literally something I need to accept. A future post on eating and drinking challenges post head and neck cancer was planned.

But, we were going OK. In fact we had morning tea out twice using our government’s ‘dine in’ vouchers and I was excitedly planning the Soup for the Soul event with my friends from BluJ’s in Toukley.


And then late June 2021, just as the school holidays began, and we got excited about seeing our son and his family to celebrate our newly minted 8 year old’s birthday it was OFF. Back to Lockdown. Because of Covid 19 and ONE person’s infection from the newly seen and very nasty delta strain….it was not a good news day or week. So much changed in a very short time. STAY home. STAY safe. And as I write this ready for 30 August publication we are STILL in same lockdown. It’s actually become much more serious. More on that as I try to recall August! OK, we live on N.S.W. Central Coast, around 2 hours from centre of Sydney the capital of N.S.W. On 27 June 2021 we were declared to be part of Greater Sydney, along with Sydney and all its suburbs, Wollongong and Shellharbour to the south and the Blue Mountains to the west. NB: the Central Coast where we live was declared a regional area mid August.

The Hawkesbury River and Bridge. From the side where I took this photo it’s Central Coast.

July 2021.

July holds many memories for me since 2017. It marks the anniversary of my first head and neck cancer major surgery and reconstruction on 6 July (4 years this year) and 27.7 each year – since 2014, is World Head and Neck Cancer Day.

I met other people who were also head and neck cancer patients, carers and professionals in July 2018 at Central Coast Cancer Centre and in 2019 was part of the group called Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support who held a Soup for the Soul Event. And, each year the charity for whom I volunteer as an Ambassador, Head and Neck Cancer Australia, has awareness activities on line and encourages communities and individuals to host Soup for the Soul.

I was one who was going this with my friends at my local cafe but once lockdown came and they chose not to open as takeaway business was not a large amount of their trade, the event could not go ahead. So, I made it a virtual event and kind friends and professionals donated to a total of $305.

Some other memories and more from July 2021.

And August Arrived!

Of course we celebrated our daughter’s birthday. Post in detail here. We continued in lockdown which felt endless. I admit I did sometimes get very cranky on social media and then had to stop using it.

I tended then to spend more time outside, or doing something creative. I know preparing and sending off little packs of bookmarks was a positive experience.

Of course, Women of Courage continued on the blog but I was planning to bring it to a close soon. I stayed in contact on line with friends and family as much as practicable but also remembering people at work (even at home) are much busier than I am.

I had successful dental checks – of the regular kind. I am doing well after the surgeries I had in July and August 2021 and I am very grateful for that. I talk to Dad once a week. He is OK and finding the visitors restrictions within his unit complex quite frustrating. He is a sociable person. My brother and sister in law help him each week with shopping and some company. I haven’t been to see him since mid June because of “lockdown”.

I try to get out each day somewhere to notice nature – walking locally or driving somewhere near the water and that helps regulate my mood.

And to do this often:


What’s ahead and what other news is there?
No-one knows.

However, I know I am going well and have quite a few choices of art and creative ventures at home. B is making a new TV cabinet and has numerous small projects on the go. He is doing some on-line music lessons and I have similar ones for art. We would not be happy if the NBN stopped working!!

My dear husband has enjoyed writing his 3rd blog post, with another one to come. We are very well suited…different interests but shared common history, love of kids and education (not always the formal kind), and connecting with people. It’s the first time in our marriage of over 50 years that we have spent so much time together at home and for the most part…at least 99% …it’s going well.

Our next door neighbours have two little ones, one born just before Easter and when our family visits were curtailed and I had excess of mini cupcakes in the freezer, it’s been great to share (safely!) a couple of little boxes of treats. Their family cannot visit just as we cannot have ours come. Still, for the greater good.

We have made a promise, once new restrictions began for lockdown, to only go to two stand alone supermarkets, the doctors and chemist and (before they became more restricted in entry) Bunnings on occasions for B. On one day, only one of us goes out (for essential reasons) and we stick to that. I recently made a trip to the local Reject shop…the only place open in a large super centre to buy a stash of cards for upcoming birthdays and celebrations. I also got some fun items which have been sent to Sydney to two families for the school aged grandkids…a care package…costs more to post by express but I would rather they got them! Australia Post employees tell me they have never been busier.

Here’s  two days of contrast (weather and condition wise) at Soldiers Beach.


Mon 23.8.21. Warm weather

Great day but look at those clouds.

Windy & wet. Tues 24 August.

Same ‘area’ where person was snorkling on Monday!



UPDATE: In late August I heard very sad news. Two friends had both died of cancer. One of whom was a Woman of Courage. Her name is Tracey Fletcher King. Here is the link to her story:

The second person is Fergus McCulla, a young man I had the pleasure of meeting back in 2019 as he had questions to ask me about my surgeries for cancer in my mouth. Fergus’s cancer was a very nasty one, and despite “everything” he eventually left behind the pain and suffering, that as his Mum said, he never spoke about. On Tuesday, I will attend his funeral service which will be streamed on-line.


Sending my love to the  families and friends of both of these special people. Vale Tracey and Vale Fergus. I am honoured that our paths crossed.





And so the second of three parts of 2021 is done. I will of course, be finishing this year’s story. However, I am no longer going to update here as I have found it hard(er) than I imagined in the midst of other life stuff…meaning, I am reducing some of my ‘have to’s in 2022 and keeping Telling My Story going won’t be a blog post. I might do a summary one time, but the recall and record keeping is less appealing than when I committed to starting!


Thanks for reading. And maybe just skimming but looking at the pictures. That is cool too. I am grateful I have used this blog to make me accountable.

Last one will be published as the last blog post (and Link Up) for 2021. 51/51….but we have a few weeks to go to that, and I am not wishing the year away!


Link Up #255

Life This Week. Link Up #255

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  1. Hi Denyse, I’m sorry to hear about your two friends’ deaths. You’ve done an incredible job documenting your story with accompanying photos. Thank you for sharing. Stay safe and well.

    • Thank you kindly Natalie. It’s been worth it but I will more likely than not, finish with this chapter.

      We are going well. Stay safe too.


  2. I am very sorry for your loss. You should remember you gave them strength and comfort I imagine in the time that you knew them, as hard as the loss is now for you to bear.
    On a more superficial note – that pic with the footprints in the sand is gorgeous and the Hamilton one made me smile.
    Lastly, You hit on that June feeling perfectly. I can’t believe I was booking all these school holiday getaways and suddenly here we are.

    • Thank you so much Lydia, that is a beautiful sentiment there, I like it a lot.

      Glad you enjoyed the images…as for Hamilton, I just count myself very fortunate these days that I got to see and hear it.

      I do know hearing the news at the end of June that lockdown was back…was quite deflating..and yet here we are 2 months on and not much better at all.

      Come on Gladys and all. Make the recovery for all people happen. Particularly those who are poor and live remotely.


  3. Wow Denyse, it is a real rollercoaster reading back over the months isn’t it? I do hope things improve soon and I know about the getting cranky at comments/news etc, I just get sad now when I read some things. I’m trying to stay away from that side of things as much as possible with reading, blogging and walking my go-to activities. Take care x

    • Thanks Deb.

      I really did get annoyed myself and of course it didn’t help me so had to make some changes as well.

      Making this post took some time with the gathering of images AND memories but I know I will be glad to have done so.

      It was a sad way to end my post noting the deaths of two people but life…hey! So it goes on.

      I will tune into Fergus’ service tomorrow as a mark of appreciation for our connection and to share with the grieving family.


  4. I can’t believe you’re up to the present.

    I love that you’re still getting out to see the ocean and I’m still trying to get myself to a place that will do something similar.

    Of course, we’re fortunate as we’re not in lockdown and have still been minimally impacted so far. Ridiculously lucky.

    • PS. Not in the mood to write anything today so I’ve linked up the post I wrote mid-week last week….

    • That’s a bit of what I do to keep myself accountable to me, Deb

      I admit I have found it a chore in many ways to continue the story into 2021 but future me will be glad I did. Am stopping by end of year I think as reducing blogging days to Mondays with possible Sunday for photo one I follow if it goes ahead in 2022.

      I admit I am not so much jealous of where people are not in lockdown but incredulous that life goes on …and I can barely remember that freedom even though it was in June. Sure does muck me around at times but I refuse to let it get me down too much as I have dealt with worse. So far with all my family (including 97 yo Dad) being OK I am “OK” too.

      Not in mood to write..no worries. Take care


  5. I’m sorry to hear the loss of your friends.

    I felt great Saturday getting to a fave tiny beach spot and then worse Sunday. Very big rollercoaster of *stuff* right now and it feels too unrelenting. Have been forgetting to watch Paralympics so that’s my distraction of choice today.

    • I enjoyed that sped up video even if I didn’t know what the thing was you were referring to that started with G. I now know of course, that your Monday has been no great at all….and hope that one day you find that people might consider what it is like to continue to work with a chronic illness.

      Warm wishes


      • Gimbal – a stabiliser 🙂 It lets you timelapse walking by making sure the footage isn’t jerky. My newest toy. (well it does a lot more than that too but I’m not up on all the features/settings yet.)

  6. So much has happened and yet you remain so upbeat. Losing friends and acquaintances is emotionally hard, put together with all that is happening in Sydney (whether you are involved or not) it is a wonder you can think straight. But you do. I admire your skill in dissecting the ‘problems and worries’ in your life and putting them in their own ‘large & small’ baskets to be dealt with as necessary.
    Take care

    • Oh Cathy, I am so pleased to see you back! I admit I was thinking of emailing you to see if you were OK and look, here you are! Great to see.

      Thanks so much for your words about my approach. I also have a great listener and synthesiser in the form of my husband and our chats help me too. We are even laughing more these days. Go figure.


  7. Oh gosh Denyse, devastated to hear about Fergus. I only checked his Insta the other day to see how he was going. He was such a brave young man. I feel so sad for his family but am pleased he’s not suffering anymore.

    This lockdown seems never ending, doesn’t it?! It makes me a bit cross to think how returning Australians are treated like lepers in quarantine with strict mask wearing and safety protocols and that driver was driving overseas peeps without a mask! Anyway, here we are. Hopefully more people get vaccinated, follow the rules and things can ease up soon. I’ve been enjoying your beach and vitamin sea pics 🙂

    • Thanks Sam, that is sad about Fergus alright but he was truly suffering hugely towards the end with the growth of the nasty tumour ….and I read today that he passed away in the palliative care place even though when he & last connected early August he was still at Brooklyn with his Mum staying to care for him..and a team of nurses too I think.

      I am choosing not to be too mad or sad about covid right now because I can’t change anything but my actions and thoughts (sounds like an infomercial) but it’s helping and B has almost banned to “C” word from our conversations!!

      Take care

  8. Hi Denyse, your story is now up to date and what a lot you’ve packed into the few months outlined here. As you know, my path crossed with Tracey too and I am so sad about her passing. She lived local to me. It turned out in actual fact that I know her older sister Karen who used to play tennis at my hubby’s tennis club. Karen’s married and moved away now. Tracey and I also knew a lot of people in common and we were both planning to meet up for coffee when I got sick with pneumonia and was hospitalised and unwell for a couple of months in late 2019. Then she wasn’t well. Then Covid hit … and we never did get to meet up which is something I will always regret. She was funny, kind and so very talented. I’m so sorry about your friend Fergus too. He looks far too young to have passed already. On a lighter note – I am so happy that the NBN is allowing you and your hubby to do some online learning! That is something I enjoy too! Hope you have a great week ahead. xo

    • It’s a loving memory we can both share of Tracey, Min.

      I did classes with her back in 2015 where she chatted away from her art studio and taught me about drawing and painting items from the fruit and vege counters. I learned a lot from her and still have photos of some of those works.

      Interesting isn’t it about paths connecting and I remember, I think, you might have gone to her gallery show? Still, I look at it this way…we are more knowledgeable about ourselves and our ability to paint and draw when we come into contact with someone like Tracey.

      I am sorry you did not get to catch up but you were very unwell and Tracey needed to stay well…for her on-going chemo.

      I am glad to have decided to complete 2021. I don’t think I will for 2022. My blogging days will be Mondays for Life This Week and maybe Sundays if I continue Sunday stills.


  9. Denyse I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of your friends. I understand the stress of looking back in the recent past. We also made the decision that we would only do the essentials while covid is around. This was mainly due to my partners anti immune issue. It’s now 18 months since we’ve been to a cafe or restaurant. We’re also starting to tire of it, even though it hasn’t been as tough or us here in Regional Victoria.

    • Thanks Jennifer and I appreciate we are all doing what we have to in this covid time…but it sure has hung on.

      We too are being much more careful in venturing out and limiting the shops visited to necessities only. Made this decision to avoid actual shopping centres too.

      Still, we are all missing aspects of how life was and I hope that over time with a greater percentage of people vaccinated there can be connecting up with family and friends. You have been waiting far longer than us to do this with your family I know.

      Take care


  10. So sorry to hear of your two friends passing. And yes what a difference a few months makes! It’s great that you and B have so many interests to keep you going. My mum does, but Dad doesn’t and he drives her mad lol

    Unrelated: Are you excited about the upcoming new Downton movie?

    • Thanks Ness, always hard isn’t it when we know of others younger or a similar age dying from cancer.

      Oh your poor Mum.

      Yes we have plenty to distract us and occupy us in retirement even before covid.

      I can now admit to fellow Downton tragic that I have “gone back” and I have lost count of how many times and I am drip-feeding some of DA each evening in bed. Nice to chill away from reality. I thought I read something about a follow up movie and wondered “what would it be about?” …we shall see!

      Take care

  11. Hi Denyse – this is an interesting way to keep a journal of life in a pandemic. So many hard things when you’re in lockdown – including missing families and not being able to go out socially, or even attend funerals. I’m trying to make the most of the fact that we have so much freedom here in WA – but it’s only a matter of time before someone brings the virus in and we’re all back in lockdown too – I just wish they’d sort things out and let us all get on with living again.

    • Thanks Leanne for your kind words. It is hard(er) to be in such a populous state and with so many different decisions not everyone agrees with. It’s made me a bit sad we have gone back to ‘state vs state’ because that’s not the Australia I love.

      So, like everything. we wait. Until covid eventually passes and many more get vaccinated. For now, my go-to is outside, walking at the beach every few days and good old art!

      I was looking at some paper today as I was sorting out things. I found I used dot paper when I was trying out lettering. I also bought some cheap kids’ exercise books from Officeworks and they gave me height and spacing practice.

      Love that you are giving your artistic side a chance to shine..keep on going!


  12. Hi Denyse, I’m sorry to read of your loss. One of our friend’s daughter died last week and she was only in her 50s which brought home the reality and precious value of life. I feel for everyone who is currently in lockdown. We are so very lucky hear and sometimes I feel guilty posting happy snaps especially with family when others haven’t had this luxury for some time. I’m looking forward to your Instagram challenge and I’m also taking a pause on some of my activities as you will read in my post. Sending love and hugs to you both and your family xx

    • Thanks so much Sue. Yes, anyone dying who is younger than us reminds us of the fact we are OK and doing well.

      I am so sorry about your friend’s daughter too.

      It’s a tossup between feeling guilty when you want to post but also you have a right to do so and I say, go for it. I must say it seems weird to me now that I see Qld people posting such normal photos of being out and about.

      I do hate what is happening at the border of the Tweed though. Something more compassionate has to be done for families and those separated from work and medical treatment,

      Take care, hope you feel better soon.


  13. I’ve thought a number of times of trying to “write my story” or at least document some of the “short stories” I talk about when I meet new people. But then, I wonder why I would because I think, “I have no-one who’d be interested in reading them!” I met someone today who said he’s written screen plays (plural, and continues to write them) but never shared with anyone to read. And I thought about doing art for the sake of doing art…. twice on one day inspired to Write my Story again. Hmmm!

    • Hello Pat!

      Love your thoughts here on line.

      I now do ‘art’ of all kinds for the process and to please me. I have moved on from wanting others’ opinions of it now understanding what I love is the process. The actions are what I benefit from. However, I keep much of mine in art books, large and small, and often date them and have been back to see some ‘date: feeling more mouth pain, needed to distract’. That shows me how I was then.

      The stories here are for me to remember how life was/is but also to have some kind of chronological record. I like that myself. I have now printed them all off, they are in labelled folders with each post separated by a divider and one day…I will re-read them. I hope my eyes will be up to the task!

      I hope you can take those moments of thoughts and decided to go with them!


  14. I am so sorry to hear of the loss of both your friends. I think it’s great that you and your husband are doing so well together on lockdown. When we were in lockdown my husband was still working full time so I have no idea how we would have done with being home all the time.

    • Thank you so much Joanne. It’s sad reflecting on the life of a young man aged 31 now dead. Today I watched and heard his funeral service with tears in my eyes.

      Lockdown is like retirement…and it takes getting used to when you are not familiar with people being home all day with you! Lucky it works for us.


  15. Wow, you’ve caught up to the present with your storytelling, that’s amazing! I couldn’t read the entire post because of its length and all the photos, but I do want to say I’m glad you were able to enjoy many relatively “normal” activities over the past few months. Sorry to hear of your losses though. Oh and your comment about it being a treat going to the dentist made me chuckle.

    • Thanks so much Astrid and yes, they are long posts!!

      It’s been Ok in lockdown because I have distractions like art and blogging but I miss getting out and about and meeting with family and friends. It will happen again.

      Thanks for your kind words about my two friends.

      Take care,