Friday 20th May 2022

My First Year With Teeth*! 33/51 #LifeThisWeek. 87/2019.

My First Year With Teeth*! 33/51 #LifeThisWeek. 87/2019.

So, this is NOT the optional prompt of Coffee, Tea or What…but for the record it is always this:

Small Latte, extra shot…in a glass. Every.Single.Day.

Ahhh. My habit that is calming and gives me time-out each day.

Now, for the real reason of this post.

One year ago, on 21 August 2018 the prosthodontist from Westmead Oral Sciences, Dr Deshpande issued me with my upper prosthesis, i.e. teeth. They have been ‘part’ of my upper reconstructed mouth now for a year.


From no teeth to teeth day

For the previous months: mid May till then, I had so many visits to him – a 2 hour drive there and back – for the measuring, the adjusting, the listening to me whinge about the discomfort of the stent (see below) and sitting/lying in a dental chair for up to 4 hours….tiring and I know it tested my patience. That was when I discovered having earbuds in and listening to an audio book whilst he and Ofelia had their hands in or near my mouth was less confronting. Kind and professional as they are, it is still hard. Do you know what I mean?

My oh so important and wonderful professional team.

What I have learned about having “teeth” (upper prosthesis) up top:

  • it is nothing like the feel of natural teeth (and it’s been a while since I had them anyway)
  • the reason is that it is a device made from hard plastic (probably a better name for it) that is literally screwed into the 3 of 5 abutments I have placed in the ‘new jaw’ from my leg
  • it “looks” terrific. There is no doubt about that. I have a SMILE back.
  • it cannot be felt by me so I do have to think about how I eat. For example, putting a piece of food into my mouth I need to guide it towards the lower part of my mouth and tongue where I have all the natural sensations of taste and texture.
  • there is none on the ‘roof’ or re-constructed palate or the teeth themselves.
  • I can, however, acutely feel foods with some sharp edges (a salada cracker) and something that is savoury .e.g. vegemite which the skin will ‘scream’ a little bit about.
  • it turns out to be an ‘ideal’ way to maintain weight…seriously. I have gained a few kilos in a year but as my mouth is uncomfortable  to eat a lot, it’s a minimiser. I am careful to add protein of some kind into my eating every day.

I am incredibly grateful. Every. Single. Day. for how the marvels of modern medical, surgical and restorative dentistry via my amazing professional team, have given me a life without cancer, teeth that can chew and bite, a mouth that can close, lips (one is numb) that can kiss, and a voice which has not been compromised at all, except for a mildish lisp.

These images tell the story in collage form. Like most of my posts about head and neck cancer, the images also tell my story.



Surgery One. 6.7.17.


Surgery Two.15.11.17.


Surgery Three. 7.2.18.


Surgery Four. 16.5.18.


Between Surgery 4 & Upper Prosthesis Affixed.


A Year of Smiles….

Thank you for sharing this with me as a reader and commenter here. I am so fortunate to have a warm and kind community who is part of my blogging world. In fact, Kirsten who was a Woman of Courage recently commented on the community here. How lovely.

Today is the last post about my cancer story. It is as a good time as any to stop posting as I am doing well. I have covered all of what is important to me in terms of updates, announcements about how the surgeries and treatments are going….and of course, important for me, the record-keeper, is the recognition of my progress which I do based on dates. As Wednesday 21 August 2019 is the first anniversary of my ‘teeth’ I decided this can be the final post…until there may be a need for an update. Please do know how much it means to me to have such amazing ‘cheerleaders’ along with me. It helps….always helps to know I am thought about.




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  1. Your butterfly image “moving forward and spreading my wings” is a positive and wonderful message. Thank you, Denyse, for sharing your cancer story with us. #lifethisweek

    • Thank you Natalie. I am moving on but will never ‘let my future stories’ be untold. It has helped me enormously to blog about my head and neck cancer.

      Denyse x

  2. What a fabulous smile it is!! (Don’t let coffee stain those teeth, as my dentist likes to lecture me on. Which I ignore). Good for you for drawing a line and stop writing about it (for your reasons). Though it may be worthwhile to link back from time to time for new people to discover it, as it’s a helpful guide for those in the journey.

    • Thanks for the helpful hint…I continue to have my one double shot and teeth stains are not a concern. I do, however, have a problem with making sure I do not have a coffee moustache as I have no feeling in top lips. I use my selfie on the phone to check.

      I will, of course, blog when/if there is a need or a change but when i knew it was time, it really was.

      To date, 38 posts (including those where I have written for other sites) is quite a bank of stores.

      Already today I have heard from someone who has been reading my posts and finding them helpful as she has a person in her family with a head and neck cancer. To make my blog as useful to others as I can is why I have all the posts on a page at the top of the blog. I have directed a few people, professionals too, to the page for the info.

      Thanks for your kind words.

      Denyse x

  3. I love that butterfly image – it’s just perfect. It’s amazing how far you’ve come in two years and look at you, your smile is brighter than ever! I once had to spend 4+ hours in the dentists chair for my veneers and yes, it’s quite confronting but you’re right, audiobooks, podcasts and music can help (as do toilet breaks!) True to form, I’m linking up but a bit off topic but I think you’d like this dish 🙂 As good as it is to spread your wings, you might want to link back as Lydia says because your story will be of great value to those who find themselves facing a similar diagnosis. In awe of what you have achieved!

    • I know butterfly is the symbol of thyroid cancer and what it’s part of your blog.

      When I was looking for an image, it suited me creatively as I had drawn it and then as a metaphor.

      I did take my guidance from your blog back in 2017 when I was waiting for my surgery date to decided on how cancer’s story told from someone who has had it is important.

      You have been that person. Thank you for sharing that idea.

      I do recommend my blog to others and the page at the top is where the 38 (!) posts are in chronological order. I often tell people too when I hand out my business card.

      I will at time, send the links via social media and the blog will be likely updated if I have relevant news.

      Thanks so much for your kind words and wonderful support.

      Denyse x

  4. Hi Denyse, I was expecting a post on tea or coffee but look what we got instead! I have so enjoyed (maybe not the right word), appreciated and admired your honest reflections and sharing of your story Denyse. I can see the time is right, from your words, and I too love the butterfly, it says so much. All the best to you.

    I have linked up a recent post involving a cup of a beverage of your choice and hope you can join me. Thanks again and I love this community too. Deb

    • Thanks so much Debbie. I wanted to write something this week but wasn’t sure what and then it dawned on me…I don’t have to use my prompt.

      I feel really well and it has been amazing to have so much care and support going through this cancer thing from people on the blog and elsewhere but it felt right to stop.

      Stopping for now is just that. There are no more stories of significance and I may have more to write about in a month after my next cancer check. But when you start getting sick of your own stories, it is time…for a break.

      Look forward to reading your post.

      Denyse x

  5. It’s amazing what they can do these days with reconstructive work. And you getting your smile back is priceless. As for tea or coffee? I do have 1 cup of coffee most days but if we don’t walk I don’t have it. I can’t, however, do without my tea. I drink it all day.

    • Thanks Jo. You do say the loveliest things.

      I have stopped liking tea fullstop.

      Weird because it was my beverage of choice for breakfast before cancer.

      I also think even though I haven’t had taste buds removed, when there has been so much surgical rearranging inside your mouth, some things change.

      I have just that one coffee a day but sometimes later it might be one of those sachet of coffee with some hot chocolate.

      Denyse x

  6. It is amazing what they have been able to do for you. Medical science is fantastic. And your ability to cope has been beyond what strength I think I would have had – and I say that knowing it has been hard on you.

    Earlier this year when I saw a psychologist to help with pain management she suggested not talking about it to every one. As someone who will talk about a topic if I want to, it felt hard and almost like a silly suggestion.

    But like everything, there’s a balance to strike personally between talking about it so it doesn’t build up inside you, and not being asked about it every 2 minutes and having it forced to the front of your brain. It did help to give brief and non specific answers to well meaning colleagues so that the conversation didn’t go on too long.I saved my talking about it for other people.

    • Thanks Vanessa. I know that I did not think I could cope if I ever got a life threatening illness but apparently I did. Never underestimate yourself.

      I know what the psychologist means. My husband told me that too. However, I am a sharer by nature and found if I just stayed silent the tension would build up. The blog has probably saved my poor husband’s ears a few times.

      However, as I said to him, it is all very well not to focus on it, but when it’s your mouth, and on waking you feel what has happened and then the rest of the day is spent managing eating and drinking around it. and then you go to sleep, it is hard not to think about it. Nevertheless the distractions of going out each day, writing and drawing in the journal and not spending too much time on head and neck cancer sites and in groups, helps me.

      It was something I needed to share a lot in July in my role as an Ambassador for Head and Neck Cancer awareness but I was glad when the month ended…

      Thanks so much for your kind words. You have always been there for me in this.

      Denyse x

  7. Thank goodness for modern medicine. It’s been so challenging for you in many, many ways but you’ve handled it very admirably Denyse and it’s so good seeing you with your smile back! I love the butterfly and all that it symbolises. I wrote a post on Tea, Coffee or what? especially so I could join with with #LifeThisWeek this week. Have a great week! xo

    • Thank you Min, I sure have benefitted from what is good about recovering in this modern age of reconstruction after cancer.

      I am glad you decided to blog and look forward to reading your words.

      Denyse x

  8. It’s certainly been a jouney and a half for you Denyse – and looking back must really reinforce that. To have gone through so much and to have come so far is a credit to you and the surgeons and the dental team. I’m so glad that you’re back on track and have your smile again – life is good isn’t it?

    • Life IS good indeed and I am feeling well.

      It is such a different feeling to be well, and fingers crossed, only minimal discomfort instead of pain.

      Thank you for understanding and your 100% support.

      Denyse x

  9. Wonderful to follow the story of your recovery. And if you can’t tell by the name of my blog, my answer to this week’s prompt is tea, always tea!

  10. Hi Denyse I see why you can’t stop smiling all the time. What amazing work they can do these days and I’m sure there were plenty of times you felt like you could never eat a proper meal again. As for tea or coffee. I start my day with coffee but enjoy an afternoon herbal or Earl Grey tea. Thanks for the link up Denyse and have a lovely week. xx

    • Thank you Sue. You have been a ‘cheerleader’ of mine since Day One and I have so appreciated your care, love and support.

      I can eat a small version of a proper meal but it still is much better than without teeth.

      I only have one coffee a day and often a hot chocolate or similar later. I have lost all taste for tea. Weird but true.

      Denyse x

  11. Your Monday feature always puts the little niggles of life perfectly into perspective Denyse. So much love to you on this wonderful anniversary!

    Pamela xx

  12. The foresight and courage to take those pics from the start amaze me. It is very useful for the rest of us to see what can be done with a fibula flap and abutments for the prosthesis. What a great improvement over time.

    • Thanks Maureen. Those very early days shots in ICU were my husband’s doing, and then mine as tedium set in. I guess until cancer, I had not interest in selfies of me (too fat etc) but then as I recovered each day was a celebration of what I had managed to survive…and do well.

      Then I continued as it helped (and still does) in terms of perspective for me. I still “see the very fat me” in the mirror at times until I realised she’s gone. I hope. Yes, she has. The good thing about limiting eating I guess is the way in which it is keeping me well.

      Always appreciate your perspective.

      Denyse x

  13. What an amazing and courageous journey you’ve been on. I love that you have not internalised it all and have it all out to share, I am sure it has helped you in recovery, within yourself and encouragement from others who you’ve never met x

    • Thanks so much my friend. I don’t think I am an internaliser…as I tell my husband…I have to share. Sometimes he wishes not so much…to him!!

      However, writing to help me and to hopefully, inform and guide others with head and neck cancer is something I will continue, but not with as much frequency!

      Denyse x