Friday 27th May 2022

Remembering & Moving On With Gratitude. 23/2022.

Remembering & Moving On With Gratitude. 23/2022.

It’s April 2022 and I am remembering, with some vivid emotions, how I was feeling in April 2017.

Back then, I had just had my upper bridge and teeth removed….and although neither my dentist nor I admitted it out loud, we both suspected I had cancer. Yes, this was found.

Image from late March 2017 into April:

However, to get to April 2017 I had been through a LOT of emotional stressors….

and pain.

For a feeling person like me, I am prone to re-living emotions that are negative. Sigh. Humans are like this.

And because a CANCER was growing in my mouth, and I had been through ENORMOUS life transitions it was:

S T R E S S F U L.

Yet, despite that I know I tried my best to continue my daily life, managed via a background internal noise…you have cancer, I.B.S. is awful, my family is away from us and I miss them, my husband is busy learning and helping others….and I am WORRIED.

Why Write This Post?

I had some stressors re-emerge this week.

Health related ones. By the way, I am OK….but still hard going for more tests/biopsies, follow ups….

I asked myself “what is going on?”  and then I realised:

A LOT has happened to me in the past 5 years…and it kind felt like a burned out system I was operating.

I asked myself a few questions, as I am always looking for a solution and here’s what I found:

  • Yes, on top of Cancer in 2017 and 4 surgeries…
  • Two major abdominal surgeries in 2020
  • Cataract surgeries too
  • Oh, and a colonoscopy and endoscopy (both OK)
  • and a MILLION (ok about 45) drives back and forth to Westmead for checks of my upper prosthesis
  • I am tired…and yet more health suff comes up, and I get weary and wary until….
  • I remember GRATITUDE & I:

OFFER myself kindness and self-compassion

ALLOW a few tears to fall

CHAT with my dear husband

CONTINUE my daily & nightly meditation practices

ENJOY a coffee & treat by myself

FIND some ART to do

ENJOY nature each time I can

AND allow time to pass.

Nature reminds us of this EVERY day & night

And I said this to myself:

“I am no longer 5 years ago Denyse. I have made so much progress in my emotional strength building and resilience from 2017, and even though I have small concerns and worries, I CAN manage these by acknowledging them…and using some of my skills from the “Denyse Emotional Health  Toolkit” *

Re-reading a post from Telling My Story, I found this. Always good to have a reminder.

This List Was Something I Kept for Me in 2016.

Here are 20 things you can control:

1. Talking to yourself positively

2. The way you talk to those around you

3. The amount of physical exercise you give your body

4. The food you nourish your body with

5. Your level of honesty

6. Whether you are a listener or a talker

7. How often you smile every day

8. The time you spend worrying about irrelevant things

9. The amount of love you give your children

10. Whether you see the glass half empty or half full

11. How mindful you want to be

12. How you make other people feel about themselves

13. Having a generous heart

14. Allowing yourself to ask for help

15. Offering help in return

16. Whether you judge people or accept people

17. Having an open heart to receive true love

18. Whether you believe in yourself

19. Your words

20. Your thoughts


And in the months ahead I am seeing my psychologist again for a chat about this and how, even though we think we are getting through a major life event, it is still, in its way unique to us: a trauma.

  • No such toolkit exists in reality but it sure helps me to know and recall the skills I have within my experience. 

I use an image to remind me of the confidence I have and can find when I may forget! This image is from last week’s visit to Newcastle.

Just after this post was published a favourite doctor and author of mine Dr Kathryn Mannix, (link to her facebook page is here  )wrote a post and it resonated with this that I have been outlining so much I commented.

Oh Kathryn…how do you “know” that this is exactly what I needed to read today. It’s occurred to me that having successfully come through from a nasty rare oral cancer dx in 2017 I have been, in many ways, traumatised by it, and that unless I “own” up to the feelings that were/are scary and continue to post “just the smiles” and good news, I am doing myself a disservice by not acknowledging its impact. I wrote a post on my blog just tonight about it. Your words, as always, resonate! Thank you.

Denyse that must have been such a tough ordeal, and a life- changing experience. It has shown you how fragile we are, yet it’s also shown you how resilient you are. Life afterwards is different: that ‘both-and’ thing of having been afraid, distressed and uncomfortable shows us so much about ourselves, both fragile and strong, both afraid and committed to persevering, both relieved and anxious about the future when treatment is over. Let’s be our whole selves. Because we’re pretty amazing, troubles and all!

Kathryn’s two books. I also listen to her books via Audible:


How is your resilience and courage?

Do you too practise gratitude regularly?


Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share today

Thank you Natalie.



  1. I’m sorry to hear about the health issues and emotional triggers, Denyse. But happy to know you have support from both your husband and a psychologist. That list of things you can control is a very good one! All that has become so important in recent years… focus on what you can control.
    Regarding my own courage and resilience… I have no idea. What I do know is that with all the worry and anxiety in the last two years, I’ve learned a lot about myself (still learning, and working on certain things) and I’ve learned to live in, and enjoy, the moment, focus on the good things, and be thankful for what I have now. Still lots to learn, but I’ll get there.

    • Oh Susanne, thank you very much and I know by sharing this it helps me too.

      You are doing well I think from all I read and see. We’ve been following each other for a while now.

      The thing is admitting that you have some hiccups in health and managing stress is the first part. Pushing it away just makes it grow.

      I look forward to seeing your lovely Spring into Summer posts from Ireland too.


  2. This is being compassionate Denyse, owning up to being vulnerable, scared and realising that you have changed in the 5 years since your first ordeal. You have been through so much and it is trauma, you are so honest with sharing your thoughts and I learn so much from you. Resilience is something we all need, especially these days!

    • Thanks so much Debbie for your kind and considered words. You too have had an enormous life trauma with your role as a teacher “taken” from you in an awful way.

      I know that we do learn and grow from these time but first comes admitting what happened. Interestingly for me, that has finally made its way into my system 5 years since I had my lead up to cancer diagnosis.

      I am practising every day, as much as I can, while I manage my thinking and feeling.

      Your words meant a lot.


  3. Denyse, I’m sorry to hear you’ve had some health-related stressors. I hope you’re feeling better after taking the steps you mentioned and talking with your psychologist. I practice gratitude every day, as part of my wellness routine. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare.

    • Yes and it took a while for me to realise what a post traumatic stress is and that was what happened with me. I had been “so busy” in recovery and being well physically that I did not take the emotional effects into consideration.

      Now I have and I can manage what is happening and the blog, as is often the case, is a great place to share.

      Thank you too for your kind words, the sharing of your strategies and link up Natalie.


  4. The cycles of grief and trauma are real and can sometimes catch us by surprise but it seems as though you are navigating this most recent wave with grace and positivity! I’m so glad you have a good support system as well as a gratitude practice… both wildly important. I hope the coming week offers you peace, joy, and abundance!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thank you Melissa, yes it has surprised me somewhat.

      I did go through a very tough time but the rewards continued to be all-encompassing and it’s only now that I realise I need to pay attention to the ways in which I was changed.

      It’s been an interesting time for me to “notice” this and have both the tools and people who can help me pretty close by.

      Admitting it is the first step to doing something to continue to heal.

      I thank you for your kind words. They are very beautiful.


  5. Hi Denyse – I think when really tough stuff hits us it leaves a legacy (almost a PTSD type legacy) and when we encounter events that remind us of those times, they trigger something in us and all the old feelings and emotions rise to the surface again. After 3 years I still have moments when something reminds me of the toxicity of my old job and my gut clenches and old stressful feelings re-emerge. What you went through would be even more so.

    Seeing a psychologist, talking with your wise husband, being grateful, being kind to yourself – these are all little steps towards remembering that life is good and there is still a lot of light (despite the darkness). Pat from Retirement Transition told me about “glimmers” as a counterpoint to triggers and I really like the concept – google it and see what you think – I’d be interested to know. x

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Oh yes, Leanne, it “is” I guess a lot like that even though I couldn’t see it from the perspective of trauma until I really examined what had happened.

      I also know that happened to me when I had the awful ways in which I had to leave my principal’s position due to work overload and THAT experienced took me some time to even drive on the same road to my old school.

      It makes a lot of sense to me too, that you would continue to find triggers that pop up. My gut does that to me too. Sigh. Aren’t we fortunate though to both have husbands trained in the area to be helpful listeners.

      I will check out what Pat found. I also LOVED the response I got from Dr Kathryn Mannix that we are “both and” her response says it better!

      Good to hear from someone who knows exactly what I am going through.

      Thank you again!


  6. Denyse, I just posted about glimmers this week. It’s those little things that bring you a sense of security & calm. You need to figure out your own – but I’m guessing one of your’s is the ocean. As is doing art. 🙂 I was intrigued with your hypothetical Emotional Health ToolKit! Maybe it’s having those glimmers in-your-pocket (ready to go in American speak).

    I like the both-and thinking as well. And yes, practicing daily gratitude. I think all of it helps us stay resilient and vibrant.

    • Thanks so much Pat. I think you are right. I am even going to consider my Emotional Toolkit contents and maybe post about it.

      Loved reading your post. Will be back to comment soon.


Denyse values & reads every comment written, thank you. There is always a reply.