Monday 8th August 2022

Healing Me: My Personal Growth Story Over 5 Years. 42/2022.

Healing Me: My Personal Growth Story Over 5 Years. 42/2022.

Over the course of my oral cancer diagnosis (May 2017), first big surgery to remove the cancer and reconstruct my mouth (July 2017)   along with further surgeries in 2017 & 2018, and MANY visits to the prosthodontist, I have needed to grow in terms of my ability to withstand what was happening to me, and to find ways in which to manage, soothe, heal and be present for whatever came up. Link to my stories here.

This was not, as still is not, always easy but the many skills I have practised via meditation from Calm, becoming mindful far more often, and being present rather than future focussed (worry) or past focus (ruminating) helped.

I was also given advice from my dear husband even before cancer was diagnosed in May 2017, that I might be better helping my emotional health by having a daily routine.

No longer working and finding the transition to a retired life in a new place to us did not sit well with me, and I have written of this before. So I did, and still do follow for me a loose daily routine. Dressing with purpose, going out somewhere if I can for a coffee, noticing nature, blogging, engaging on social media and connecting in conversation with my husband.

In commemorating the 5 years of managing myself physically and emotionally, I have made some collages and little stories attached to what help me heal and grow as a person.

I am very grateful for all of the knowledge, and skills I have embedded and I continue to learn more as a life time learner.


The beaches near where we live. Lakes Beach is more accessible for walking and often has a dramatic surf, Soldiers Beach has suffered from recent erosion and is now harder to access but has amazing views from the carpark and I also swam/walked there last year and earlier this year.

The lakes system. This northern end of the NSW Central Coast has a series of lakes which are named more for the area in which they are located. I visit Wallarah Peace Park at Gorokan, Osborne Park at Toukley and parts of Budgewoi, including MacKenzie Reserve where the wonderful and photogenic pedestrian bridge is.

Wallarah Peace Park. Gorokan. A favourite place for reflection since late 2015.

The River System.

Wyong River. From early on in my cancer recovery, I began visiting my friend Randa’s coffee shop at Wyong for a chat and coffee each Sunday. It helped break up a big week in many ways. And after that I would visit the river somewhere along the way to stop, watch and note its changes. Porters Creek Bridge was/is a special place for me.

Noticing Nature:

Everywhere I went!

from trees to plants and even animals in the fields….

Before cancer, there were often places of reflection and using mindfulness to be more present. After cancer they served me well as familiar touch stones. We may be headed back to Sydney’s northwest, but the memories of here will hold me in good stead.

I also have great connections to the places such as Rouse Hill Town Centre, which I saw built and visited many times until 2015.

Now, the growth of nature there is so beautiful, and I am looking forward to the best connections of all…people…when I return. I already have one friend meeting me for coffee there in 2023!!

And of course..nothing better than to be able to connect with our family with greater ease and less distance to travel too.

And I am quite expecting  that this ‘back to’ will also be a transition too. I sure know that for myself. The past few weeks have been about preparing for some downsizing of donating furniture and giving other items away too. It’s ALL GOOD as they say!!

I am very grateful to have put in many of the experiences into my life to help me manage life as someone with cancer, then after having cancer removed…and making changes to my life going forward…aged 67 to 72.

I hope my story is of interest and that you too may have places that you find help you too.




Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share over the weekend. (Publishing before then, on Wednesday 29 June 2022.)

Thank you Natalie.




  1. Great pictorial record!!!

  2. Hi Denyse – water has been such a strong healer for you all through your journey – your happy place has certainly been the beach. Lovely to see all your water photos and the nature ones too – and it’s great that you have the opportunity to resume the close family bonds again next year by moving closer to your family. It’s certainly been a tumultuous 5 years – but you’ve come out stronger and have set such a great example for the rest of us. x

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Yes it has Leanne, and it’s been the one place that I have needed and used well …viewing, appreciating and being…all of the time we have been up here.

      Today B asked me ‘what will you do when you can’t easily access the water?’ and I thought, whilst that it true, the area we are going back to still has some open parklands and trees so I will do that more.

      We are about 20 mins from the ocean here on very “UN” busy roads, back in Sydney it is around an hour and the roads…well, they are busy, and costly if I go on some of the motorways.

      Swings and roundabouts in all of life’s changes.

      Yes to how its been a big five years and yes to what it has taught me.

      Warm wishes,


  3. The dull view and the bright view of Osborne park could be used to tell a tale of how our outlook affects how we view the world. When things are tough we see the dull view but when we are mentally in a good place, we see the bright view. Gorgeous pics as always….

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks L, it’s become a Saturday morning drive of about 15 minutes to there, and I check it out and mosey on over to local Coles for what we need that day.

      It’s raining (and yes, spoiling your school hols if you are home) of course and it’s not fun on the roads.

      I have used “the views” of much up here to sustain me, to teach me and to have now, as we ready ourselves for city life again, as wonderful memories.

      Warm wishes,


  4. Denyse, Thank you for your weekend coffee share and beautiful pictures. Nature and bodies of water are amazing to observe and experience their effects on our mind and body. I’m glad you’ve found several nature and water places that you enjoy. Your move to be closer to your family makes sense. Pace yourself with the ‘rightsizing’ to prepare for your move. Have a great weekend!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much Natalie, I agree!

      The move, is already challenging us organisationally and practically, but we will get there so to speak.

      Your words are very wise.

      Warm wishes,


  5. There have been many lovely places around you to reflect and promote healing! How lovely to be close to water, both the sea and lakes. Nature certainly has healing powers if you let it. I wish you the best with your upcoming move!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thank you Susanne, we are very grateful to have spent these years of my recovery and in retirement here with so much natural beauty.

      And yes, by this time in 2023 we will have moved on, but for good reasons!

      Take care,


  6. Lovely photos! There’s something healing, almost magical, about being near water. Looks like you have some lovely, watery places nearby.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thank you Janet, I so agree about water and its many properties.

      We live close by for now, and I am appreciating that greatly.

      Take care


  7. Well done Denyse, on sharing your favourite places, those that help you and your thoughts for the future. It was great to read over your story and 5 years is a big milestone so no wonder you are looking back but now also looking forward. Nature in all its forms can be very calming and although I love the ebach it’s a long way away, so the forest fills me with joy when I need to walk and think. Take care!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much Debbie. Your family has been on my mind as I wonder how ‘the auction’ may have gone…given this awful weather and interest rates!!

      I have learned so much about myself in these past 5 years that have all contributed to my growth in emotional stability after a very rocky transition with the move up here and all that.

      I am grateful. It never fails me to try to feel that these days. I have moved from ‘gratitude cynic’ to a true believer…lol.

      I am so glad you have your peaceful place too. I am also glad I got to see the beach before today’s awful weather which has closed some of the roads I travelled on yesterday.

      Take care,


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