Tuesday 26th October 2021

Six Month Check-Up…With Myself! 2018.56.

Six Month Check-Up…With Myself! 2018.56.

What is this six month check-up about?

It is about my assessment of my physical and emotional health for the first 6 months of 2018.

Subjective? Yes.

Tougher on myself than most? I hope not. But I can be more self-critical than I probably need to be! I suspect we are all like that.

It’s no secret that when you have a cancer diagnosis that check-ups are both regular and scary. Regular ones are like this protocol for my head and neck cancer:

for the first 2 years: every 3 months. I have completed one year and really only had ONE formal check up because…I have been for surgery with my Professor 3 times post initial big surgery.

for the next 3 years: every six months. This assumes no symptoms in between checks. My cancer was a very slow growing one which was contained in one area. All fingers crossed that stays like that.

Let’s get started:

January  –  June 2018.

My Contribution to Our “2 Person Retired” Household.

  • cooking my meals which can be eaten with little chewing and are nurtitious and tasty
  • cooking and freezing meals that are adapted for me and suit my husband as well e.g. spag bol
  • cooking some add-ons for my husband’s meals e.g. my fried rice
  • making cakes. Lots of little cakes. Since discovering I “can” eat cake – with a teaspoon – this household always has freezer space for “little cakes”. I like ones with lots of icing – helps get the cake down, my husband likes no icing
  • cleaning the floors that require vacuuming each fortnight
  • cleaning my en-suite bathroom and all surfaces of shelves, sets of drawers etc in the house
  • ensuring the plants outside are watered and cared for – watering, moving them around as need be and pruning
  • grocery shopping that is specifically for me and some catch-up items as my husband does the main & bigger shop

My Self-Care Routine.

  • I would like to think I have this down pat. I do not. I sometimes do too much and wonder why I am tired or tetchy.
  • Balance of some kind is ideal. I am still learning and I can imagine many of us are too in our retirement years.
  • As someone who loved her busy-ness in work and then when caring for our grandkids and part-time teaching…but also had it affect her emotionally I KNOW this is something I need to do better.
  • What is self-care anyway….for me it is this: enough to ‘do’ each day for nothing to feel stressful and enough to ‘be’ each day to feel calm and in control of my emotions
  • I could improve my ‘going to sleep’ times and am already listening to some ‘sleep stories’ via my Calm meditation app which is helping somewhat
  • I need to remember I am not in a race for self-care or self-improvement
  • I am aware I need to think ‘marathon’ rather than ‘sprint.’

My Care For Others.

  • I am getting better at this one!
  • When I was recovering from cancer surgery in those months from July to November 2017 my physical restrictions and mental tiredness meant I could not do much at all
  • However, I now know the value of caring for and about others (without trying to be the FIXER or the PEOPLE PLEASER) and this, my readers, is a BIG step for me
  • I continue to learn about this – am I doing or saying this to ‘fix’ this person or something that can be fixed or am I doing this to show my love and support for the person as he or she fixes things themselves. A BIG one for sure.
  • And in saying that, I know my people pleasing has taken a back seat…even in the ‘boot’ of ‘my car’ as I continue to know the value of pleasing myself (not indulgently) by setting BOUNDARIES.
  • Who knew? Boundaries for me and noticing that may be my interactions with others are not exactly as I might have anticipated because of THEIR boundaries! Great learning this one!

My Physical Appearance Each Day.

  • If you have followed by blog since late last year and into 2018 you will know that, over time my physical appearance has taken on a new dimension
  • Before late October 2017 I was in survival mode as well as under life stressors including IBS and anxiety and a cancer diagnosis. This meant I cared less for my outward appearance as I was concentrating on trying to figure out how to help myself inwardly.
  • This, as it turned out, was not helpful.
  • Instead, I took a challenge to dress well each day quite seriously. It was a self-created challenge. I am not going to stop it as I know it helps me each day.


  • I am happy with many aspects of my ‘progress’ as I know I feel better emotionally and physically.
  • I also know there are more challenges to me on the horizon but I have learned that I can and do meet challenges much better than I did.
  • All in all, I am going well.

I believe I have allowed myself, even writing this, to be vulnerable. I know I take more brave steps these days than ever before.  And yes, I have read and listened to all of Brene Brown’s work. She tells it as it is. Bravely. Words matching actions.

Have you ever considered a ‘check-up’ of this nature?

I thought it was a good way for me to review how things are really instead of giving myself a hard time about not making progress because that is clearly a bit of a fib.

I will be interested in your comments! Not about me, per se, but about the notion of a self-check.


On Tuesday this posts links with Kylie here

On Wednesday this post links with Sue and Leanne here






  1. What a great idea to have a check up /mid-year review. It’s good to take stock and see how far you’ve come (and you have come so far, physically and emotionally.) Here’s to a healthy, happy and fulfilling six months ahead. PS I’m still loving my bookmark and every time I open my book I think of you! And while I’m on the subject of books, getting into reading has helped me get to bed earlier and sleep hygeine. I’m so keen to read, I can’t wait to hop in to bed!

    • Thanks Sammie and congratulations to you and David on this auspicious occasion: 10 years in OZ!

      Please tell me if you would like more bookmarks. I always have them made from my art.

      I have made 50 for inclusion in The Big Hug Boxes, an initiative of a cancer patient called Lisa Greissl who wanted to help research after her very rare cancer was eliminated by major surgery and more. She is Newcastle based & this idea of hers has taken off.

      I am doing more reading of late. I have the late Prof Chris O’Brien’s memoir to re-read which i am doing to honour his dream which helped me so much almost one year ago when I was a patient in his name sake Cancer Hospital.

      I hope David loved his Koala Cake. Nice idea!
      Denyse x

  2. This is one of my favourite lines “I need to remember I am not in a race for self-care or self-improvement”. Even if you get there – you will never stop so why race??? You are doing so so well.

    • Thanks Natalie. Always learning aren’t we?

      Even today, when I was listening to an audible book at the prosthodontist I found a phrase that was really helpful.

      I think I am going to write about it or at least put it up on Instagram.

      Denyse x

  3. That baked lamb dinner you had looked amazing.

    I’d have to remember what has happened so far this year to do a self care check up.

    I do feel very frustrated today about some attitudes we’ve had recently in the medical profession, even though I know we have work-arounds. I’m cranky that the patients have to put in so much effort to negotiate an outcome.

    Frustration is the feeling I hate the most!

    • Oh yes, it IS up to the patient (and family, partner, carer) to do the legwork in so many cases.

      I wonder if part of it is that the medical profession needs to remain ‘removed’ from direct care and interest as it would overload them.

      I hear your frustration and understand it must be so hard when all you want is a diagnosis and some real help and plans for improved health.

      That baked dinner WAS amazing but it had lots of leftovers. I would have LOVED to make myself sandwiches but B has for himself, and two meals of it are in the freezer for Dad next time I visit.

      Denyse x

  4. I love the check-in idea! What a great post. And as you know, I love the outfit pics. That’s why I do it, too. It’s a way of keeping myself accountable for making an effort, and when I do it, I feel SOOOO much better about myself and enjoy my day so much more.
    Love your note to self about not being a race for self-care or improvement. Copy. Paste. Thanks x

    • Thanks Em. I have learned that no matter what I must get dressed for the reason I do. Mind you I think I have had two times when IBS prevented me but I have stuck to it. So when you are feeling “oh maybe I won’t” think of me….and I will do the same for you! The 6month check was helpful. So much teacher in me! D x

  5. Great checkup Denyse and I love your attitude to the definition of self-care – it really is different for us all. I might check out the Calm app. I’ve seen it advertised on FB as well. Thanks for linking up and as always being an inspiration to us at #MLSTL. Have a beautiful week. xx

    • Thank you Sue. I do believe the Calm app (paid version) gives me much more variety to choose what I need or want to do on a particular day. It is not as expensive as Headspace but I will always be grateful for learning via Headspace for the past 3 years. I think the most of what I have learned in being mindful is that it occurs even when we are doing things. I reckon you would be incredibly mindful during your runs for example. Something to ponder!! Denyse x

  6. I wrote a mid-year check-in post this week, but it had to do with goals. But I really like the categories that you focused on.

    • Thank you Jennifer, I needed to mark this progress for myself and I am glad I did. I am much less a goal maker these days since retirement. I think that I had to do them so often in my work in schools. Denyse x

  7. That was a really interesting process Denyse and I like how you broke it up into different categories – that way you’re comparing apples with apples. I think one of your biggest talents is being able to recognize when something is good enough – not necessarily earth shattering or beyond perfect – just good and and happy and balanced. I think your life fits all three over the last six months.

    Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx
    Leanne | Cresting the Hill

    • Thanks Leanne. Teacher-me is to the fore with posts like these…I cannot and will not apologise for that …LOL.

      I like structure and a plan. The fact that I do not do goals anymore is because there were far too many in my work life and I thought this was a caring and honest way to do it.

      Thanks again for having me write a blog post that I didn’t think would work…and you were right!

      Denyse x

  8. You have come so far, you are an inspiration. I hope I never get cancer but I know it could happen. I only hope I can handle it with the grace, hope and self-awareness you have shown.

    #MLSTL visitor

    • Thank you kindly Donna. I always worried about how I might handle news that I had cancer…and when it came it was less of a shock than I thought. “Something” had to be wrong in my gums.

      I am helped in many ways by some of the learning I had done in terms of mindfulness and self-care (when I had ordinary old anxiety!!) and my husband’s support is always there. I guess, teacher me, likes that some post I write may help others so that is my motive.

      Let’s just add that I think we have more going for us inside that helps us manage a range of emotions and thoughts and know that it was also pretty normal for me to have ups and downs helped.

      Thank you so much for visiting and commenting!
      Denyse x

  9. A great post! A great idea to keep a check on yourself as life just spirals on so fast it’s sometimes good to stop. You make that Stop time an important part of taking stock.

    • Thank you Samantha. I think it took me getting cancer to remember to take better care of all aspects of myself!! I was more anxious before I was diagnosed so I found self-care was a mix of self-indulgence and neglect. Getting it right more than not these days. Denyse x

  10. Hi Denyse,
    I do self-checks all of the time. I like the way you’ve organized yours. And I love your definition of self-care. It’s one of the best I’ve read.
    I also appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and to publish your self-check. That’s good modelling for me.


    • Thank you Karen, I did think I was making it up as I went along but I guess my decades as a teacher came handy for lists and categories. I have so learned about vulnerability since getting cancer and admitting to it seems to free other to admit it too. Who knew? Brene Brown has started so many conversations around vulnerability but it took me till 2017 to actually understand as I was too self-conscious to let anyone see it.

      Your comment has delighted me. Thank you.

      Denyse x

  11. Self-care is a learning process for folks in our age group I think. Good for you for realizing you need to do it and making sure you do.

    • Yes I realise that too now. Suddenly much closer to 70 than even 65 I notice some physical things are getting harder. Not that I give up but to be aware keeps me safe and well.

      Thank you.

      Denyse x

  12. I’ve not ever really done a check-up like this, but with all the work Dave and I are doing to get our finances and business in order I feel like this would be a really good thing to add to your monthly check-up routine that we are starting.

    • I hear you. At your age and stage and taking this team approach I admire you both. Keep on keeping on and stay aware of other areas too, like you say here as it keeps your relationship (THE most important one!) going well.

      Denyse x