Tuesday 26th October 2021

Share Your Snaps #5. #LTW25/51. My Head & Neck Cancer Photos 2017-2019. 71/2019.

Share Your Snaps #5. #LTW25/51. My Head & Neck Cancer Photos 2017-2019. 71/2019.

I am choosing to celebrate my two years + since head and neck cancer diagnosis in images that mean much to me as a patient who is using this medium to show:





Becoming Well.

Some images may be confronting to you. The nature of having a head and neck cancer is that it is brutal in its ways of eradicating it. Be it surgery (my sole treatments), radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of all. Please consider using my experience to get your mouth checked and to follow up any pain, lumps & bumps in the head, neck, under ear areas….And please think about a donation to my Virtual Fundraiser for BeyondFive where I am a volunteer Ambassador. Link at the end. Thank you. 


1. Where recovery began. Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in July 2017 and realities of being home and what my body was doing to heal.

2. My ‘mouth’ reconstructed…and lots of waiting for more surgeries and needing to adapt to changes in my mouth. Surgery in Feb 2018 too.

3. And a 4th surgery…gets me closer to upper teeth but such a long wait with a stent attached inside. Getting my #HNC awareness happening & supporting the first Soup for the Soul event telling my local MP about it.


4. Many trips to Westmead as my mouth needed measurements, cleaning of abutments area and so on. I had 2 more surgeries to make my mouth ‘teeth ready.’ My first meeting with Central Coast HNC patients. I had not met another HNC patient till almost a year after my first surgery. And....S M I L E.


5. So many reasons to smile, show appreciation & help support the works of HNC groups, meet with Beyond Five, smile at my surgeon and see the realities of inside my mouth, with my prosthodontist telling me all about how this is screwed into the cheekbone and more. Yikes. No wonder it hurts at times.

6. With my recovery continuing my confidence improved.It was great to have some special occasions including a belated retirement medal presentation, meet-ups in December & Christmas at our place & to celebrate my 69th birthday at the the end of November.

7. In early Jan 2019 a quick trip to COBLH to see my surgeon where he confirmed ‘extra skin’ was just that, not cancer…and that threw me for a bit (cancer as a possibility). It was good to think about it and consider gratitude and we celebrated an 18th Bday & our Feb meeting of CC HNC support group had a special guest.


8. And the memories of the 2 years before were strong but I gave myself credit for getting through tough times then and now. Meeting up with friends AND authors who are friends was fab! My mouth reality is here too. Bit graphic: Before Cancer diagnosed.


9. Celebrated my 2 years since diagnosis with my husband on 17 May and he said ” time for the Apple Watch you’ve wanted”. Recently I’ve helped share another HNC patient’s story for Beyond Five, met my daughter for Mother’s Day, had another CC HNC group meeting at the Cancer Council, saw my prosthodontist, my dentist too…and at the special celebration of Chris O’Brien’s legacy for Head and Neck cancer in early June at COBLH loved seeing my surgeon, Prof Jonathan Clark (who became AM from Queen’s Bday honours the next weekend!) and my HNC Nurse Practitioner Justine. I am so fortunate!!


10. My friend updated my image for the blog after it had been showing my way before cancer image for 4 years. Now, that feels more like me!


Denyse Whelan Head and Neck Cancer Patient now Ambassador.

Consider a donation of $5 or more to my Virtual Event

For Head and Neck cancer patients, family and friends. This is a website and offers lots to help. It continues to grow and change but with no government funding, some donations by companies in related fields and one part-time business manager, a fund-raiser was initiated in 2018 called Soup for the Soul. Soup is often a food that patients with head and neck cancer can manage and it is comforting.

Soup for the Soul is already live and I have a Virtual Soup for the Soul page here.  World Head and Neck Cancer Day is on 27 July.

Have you shared your snaps today?


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  1. Hi Denyse, how do you feel looking back at your journey with Head & Neck Cancer? You certainly are the epitome of your Courageous Women Series and what a detailed account of what you have been through. Congratulations and thank you for your continuing inspiration and strength which you show us all. Just look at your beautiful smile which never left even during the very hard times. Have a great week and thanks again for sharing your story. #lifethisweek

    • I am glad you asked that question Sue because I feel good that I did get through all of this as well as I have. One thing I do think of from time to time is that it was such an unknown outcome for a very long time, and I did struggle on some days with uncertainty and the on-going restrictions and discomfort.

      However, I have, thanks to my good recovery psychologically, and with my loving husband’s encouragement and “not letting me whinge too much” come out of this past two years very well indeed.

      My smile, I now know, is more important to me than eating…oh and a very close second to be able to talk!!

      Thanks again, Sue, you have been along with me on this from day one.

      Denyse x

  2. What a journey, Denyse!

    In awe, as always XX

    SSG xxx

    • Indeed! And you got to meet me in those ‘worst of days’ but also when I was most possibly a relieved woman it was ‘done.’

      Thank you SSG.

      Denyse x

  3. Congratulations, Denyse! You’ve been through so much and have shown us your courage and strength. Have a beautiful day! #lifethisweek

  4. Even though I followed all the way through your journey, I’d kind of forgotten how much you went through physically. I see you as you are now (and that seemed to have over ridden the other stuff). It must have been quite theraputic for you to post that post together and see where you are now. I’m sure this post will help lots of people who are dealing with it at the moment. #Lifethisweek

    • Thanks Lydia, it is a bit like that for me too.

      When I see a facebook memory of a year ago come up I am still ‘toothless’ and continued to do all I could ‘no matter what’. Mind you, I would not like to go back to that amount of inconvenience re eating again.

      I do share so others can be helped.

      I have already directed newly diagnosed Head and Neck cancer patients to the part of my blog where I have all the posts together.

      I had NO idea nor knowledge of what I would go through as my version of this cancer is rare of rare so I guess it would have been hard to locate anyway. I also consider that my record keeping in photos is part of my professional team’s records. They do have the photo updates of mine as well as theirs.

      Thanks for your care and support through this.

      Denyse x

  5. You are so very inspiring Denyse. Thank for the reminders of what you’ve been through. One tough cookie!!

    • Thanks Debbie, there ‘were’ days and some nights of despair …the pain and the boredom of eating what/how I did…but I got through it. We seem to don’t we?

      Your support is always appreciated.

      Denyse x

  6. Not sure if my comments went thru for Natalie and Teacups?? Sorry if they didn’t. I did comment but weird things afoot.

  7. Wow, that’s some journey – and the photos tell it so well. You’re posts – and photos – will provide priceless info for anyone else going through this. So so courageous.

    • Thanks Jo. Being a blogger and a photographer I guess this proved to be the ideal way to record what was happening to me.

      I admit prior to the diagnosis I took few photos of me but once I “knew” about the cancer, it seemed important to record it. My husband arrived in ICU to see me and said “we’d better have some photos” of this…and I agreed and so it was.

      I have little vids of myself from my hospital bed that I have not shared but they are a true indication for me of what I learned about myself and how I could see my face as it recovered from such a battering.

      Thanks for your encouragement, care and support
      Denyse x

  8. These photos clearly show how far you’ve come. You really are a courageous and inspiring woman! And that smile is EVERYTHING!

    • Ha, you nailed it…although as I said above, I think talking won over the smile!!

      Thanks lovely friend and blogger for all your support throughout.

      Denyse x

  9. My goodness Denyse you are one special lady! God bless you and the wonderful work you are doing to help others.
    Pamela x

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Pamela.

      It’s been a tough journey but one I always had confidence would go well as I have such a great professional team AND a husband who encourages me all the way!

      Denyse x

  10. You’ve been through so much and come such a long way. And you’ve come out the other side stronger no doubt. xx

    • Thanks Deborah, I sure was a scared woman even before the cancer diagnosis but I understand the ‘why’ of that much more now as it was grief in my life’s transitions.

      Having the cancer news actually was something I could “do” something about even though I was scared in the 7 weeks lead up to the first surgery.

      I have changed but in good ways. I am always appreciative of your care and support.

      Denyse x

  11. You’re amazing xx

    • Awwww…like I have said more than once, NONE of us really knows what we are capable of until we have to be…and I recall a Woman of Courage we know who wrote something along those lines…mmmmm

      Denyse x

  12. What an incredible journey! So good to see the story of your recovery?

  13. So thankful your health and dazzling smile have been restored. What a long, horrific journey. But you made it! Bravo!

  14. Thanks for sharing these photos Denyse. It shows your journey and just how far you’ve come! Your courage never ceases to astound me. Also, apologies for the verrrry late comment. Catching up this week on last week’s stuff!