Thursday 26th May 2022

November Notes #5. 2018.125.

November Notes #5. 2018.125.

I went to a million (give or take) in-service courses as a teacher/principal.

I think they are called “professional learning” now and I also know they “count” towards accreditation each year.

I also devised and delivered many as both a teacher and University tutor and Adult Educator.

So what is this about in relation to my final November notes?

It’s how my personal development was & is enhanced by having cancer.

I am aware I have written at some length about the processes I have learned behaviour-wise and they are here, on the page “Denyse and Her Cancer Story”.

What I will do now is write about my changes in behaviour and attitude and how this can be linked to my cancer diagnosis. To make it easier and for me to see the changes, it will be in photos.

  • I gained independence
  • I became much less anxious and fearful following my diagnosis and subsequent BIG surgery
  • I tried new things with greater ease than ever before
  • I knew that to follow the processes and trust in the professionals, I would be OK.
  • I sometimes had to challenge the negative voice inside that wanted it all “done and now”
  • I found calm in more ways than I realised: particularly by going outside, into nature and doing art.

And then more:

  • As I already knew from the experiences of ‘exposure therapy’ the more I did the more I could do with increased confidence
  • Things do not occur linearly nor with ease and of course there were (still are at times) so tears that spill over and some worries
  • What is different now is how quickly I recover and re-group
  • It feels so much better for me to be a calmer person who is less afraid to travel, meet up with friends old and new and see greater times ahead
  • I can also put the “cancer voice” back in its box with relative ease by using my thinking strategies well.
  • I no longer try to ‘case manage’ anyone else’s behaviour.
  • I accept with great assurance that not only am I doing the best I can, so are most people
  • I am much more likely now to reach out a hand in friendship and care rather than recoil because of the anxiety and fear based on social engagements and effects of IBS.

And this is why and how having cancer helped me grow. It is a learning process of course. However, I am loving how my life is now and what I have gained back from this past 18 months living with a cancer diagnosis.

There is such a phenomenon called Post-Traumatic Growth. Article can be found here.

This resonates with me:

Types of personal growth

People may experience different types of change while coping with cancer, including:

  • Improved relations with others. Living with cancer may increase feelings of closeness or intimacy with family or friends. It may make it easier to connect with others who have had a traumatic event.
  • New life experiences. Having cancer may change your priorities, causing you to make different life choices. You may be motivated to make a career change, overcome a fear, or fulfil a life goal.
  • A greater appreciation for life. A cancer survivor may have an increased regard for life’s value or a new sense of vulnerability to death. This awareness may help you appreciate the world in new ways.
  • A sense of personal strength. Living with cancer can help you develop increased mental strength and a sense of empowerment. You can be proud of what you have accomplished.
  • Spiritual development. Some people living with cancer find they gain an increased interest in practicing religion or adding spiritual depth to their daily lives.

Having post-traumatic growth does not mean that you have completely overcome the stress and other feelings about having cancer. Growth and suffering can happen at the same time. In fact, most people who report post-traumatic growth also report having struggles. A person may grow in one area of their life and not another, or in a number of areas at different times.

I have been incredibly fortunate of course to have the surgeries and treatments and I never downplay cancer but as an educator I know what it has taught me and continues to teach me.

Have you had experiences that have changed part of your life and your outlook?

Please share!


Joining in with Leanne for Lovin Life linky here.



  1. When you see that growth in terms of pictures and words it leaves me quite speechless.

    • Thank you Jo. I am glad you could see it as I was hoping it was evident. I sure can feel it just about every day.

      Your words are very helpful and of comfort to me.

      Denyse x

  2. This is one of the great misconceptions of man that is problematic for how we think. You are indeed correct when you say ‘Things do not occur linearly’. We’d all be better off if we grasped this.

    • Yes. It has been a big lesson to me in the past few years. I agree we humans need to recognise this more.

      Thank you Lydia,

      Denyse x

  3. So privileged to have gotten a spot on your “wall of fame”!

  4. Denyse it’s been wonderful sharing your journey over the last year or so. You’ve come so far on so many levels and should be really proud of yourself. The fact that you’ve documented it all in pictures is also amazing – it’ll be something to look back on (or maybe compile into a book) and you’ll have a deep sense of personal satisfaction to have looked cancer in the eye and won 🙂

    • Thank you so much. The value of blogging and the kind and thoughtful commenters/readers such as you is that I see and read more about my progress via olthers’ views. However, I will always be grateful that I became interested in recording the stages via photos, journal entries elsewhere and blog and social media updates. Too often memory is an unreliable tool and the recording keeping helps bring things into perspective.

      Denyse x

  5. Oh I certainly agree that trauma can lead to exceptional personal growth. They talk about these things ‘making’ or ‘breaking’ us and you’ve certainly come out this other side stronger and – even from your writing and from afar – it seems with a better sense of self.

    It’s funny isn’t it, how we can plod along safely in our comfort zones for so long. What we often think of challenges later pale in comparison to diagnoses such as yours! xx

    • Yes, indeed that is true but I had only ever thought of trauma of anykind being negative and it was the introduction to me of PTSD growth that I had more ‘ah ha’ moments about my recent cancer diagnosis.

      No-one ever wants cancer for sure but…I was in a bad place emotionally for some time before the diagnosis (Jan – May 2017 were awful months) and it became the ‘thing’ that snapped me out of the ‘wallowing and fear; I guess I would call it.

      I now have a mantra in my head, if it feels like I ‘don’t want to do something’ then it means I must. I applied it to myself as recently as last Tuesday after my Westmead visit and ploughed through what had made me, temporarily, overwhelmed and just did the other stuff.

      Thanks Deb,

      Denyse x

  6. What a beautiful summary of the journey. Both what actually happened along the way as well as the emotional and spiritual change you’ve undergone too. Thanks again for being so generous in your sharing of your cancer journey. It is both inspiring and life affirming.

    SSG xxx

    • Thank you SSG. Interestingly what started as needing to share and tell my story has now formed a record for me to see how far I have come. In fact, I am feeling that bone-weariness I used to feel when I was teaching at this time of year and I now see it is the effort of all the surgeries, treatments and trips to Westmead and allowing for time to heal that has been my focus for this past 12 months in particular.

      Am determined to have more winding down time over the next weeks too.

      Denyse x