Wednesday 18th May 2022

Two Years Ago: Before My Cancer Was Diagnosed. Pt 2. 31/2019.

Two Years Ago: Before My Cancer Was Diagnosed. Pt 2. 31/2019.

For anyone affected by a life-changing diagnosis that comes after some time of illness or maybe there is no sign, time becomes a part of memories of ‘back then’.

In writing here on my blog, I know I am helping myself as I continue to process my thoughts, actions and concerns relating to my eventual and pretty shocking diagnosis is a rare cancer in my mouth. For those who would like to read about this in the series of posts here is the link to the page called Denyse – Head & Neck Cancer.

It was recently that trawling through on-line journals I realised how much I had gone through along the way so I wrote the first post in this series is here. 

This post takes a different theme which was relevant to why and how I was feeling and acting in those months from December 2016 into May 2017.

March 2017.

It must be just me. I don’t know how to settle well into my life now it’s over 2 years since we left Sydney and are making a retirement life for us. How come “I” cannot settle. What is WRONG with me? My husband is doing it with ease. In fact, he is already volunteering in two community organisations, is planning to continue his tertiary studies. Me? I face each morning with trepidation. I find it hard to get up. To what, I ask. I go through the motions of making it look like I am OK. But I cannot fool myself nor my husband. It’s me, I just do NOT know what is wrong with me…..I know my GP says I am somewhat anxious but it’s for a reason which related to stress about my IBS. She tries me on some anti-depressant meds briefly but they affect my gut. I see my psychologist who again tells me, “you need to continue exposure therapy.” I am losing weight because I am too scared to eat because of IBS.

This look on my face here is me gaunt and showing the fear within even with my then-smile. Underneath those teeth was … knew.

What Did I Do?

More of what seemed to help me. At least it passed the time. It did not ease the knot in my gut for long but I was focussing on self-help. I must have listened to 100s of hours from many. These are people whose words I continue to value and have all of their CDs still. I listen to few now, but back then I thought they were helpful for my mind to slow a little. I used to listen in a semi-meditative way or as I was making some mandalas or patterns. I found these people’s words matched a lot of what I was hearing from my husband and my psychologist too.

My blog was a great spot for me to gather my thoughts and be interested in others. I was so pleased that I HAD made my blogging a priority. Mind you, there were days when I was not interested in connecting on line…but I did and continue to do so in the overall goal of remaining connected.

I probably did not let on to many other than my poor husband just how bad I was feeling on some occasions. I felt bad about feeling bad! I wondered if there was any chance I could feel ‘like I hoped’. My former GP who I continued to see in tandem with my current one for the next 2 months, was kindly but even she seemed to run out of reasons why I continued to feel so anxious.

The age old question: Was I anxious because of the likelihood of IBS or was the likelihood of IBS making me anxious?

I tried SO hard to make my inner life a better experience! I did art of one kind or another most days, I ventured out on short drives when I felt well enough, I cooked a little bit but I was so anxious about people visiting I could not enjoy the company of family nor was there any way I would drive to Sydney to see anyone. Nope. Not on.

Here are some of the many sayings that I hoped to absorb and integrate into my life. These were posted on Instagram. That account was hacked in May so I no longer have the IG versions, just my photos.

And all this time, my mouth hurt.

  • The skin behind the upper gums where the bridge was continued to be inflamed.
  • No the extra cleaning done in early March (see first post) had not changed anything.
  • The skin was growing over the top of the front teeth.
  • This matter concerned me greatly. I know I told my husband often enough.
  • But, as no-one in the dental or medical field had deemed this to be of any great consequence, I continued on.

Sadly, in pain emotionally and physically.

I hope that this post is helpful in understanding that my internal dilemma was a huge influence as I thought “I made all of this happen“. It would appear, that I may have been thinking about cancer far longer than even I realised. It IS true.

Next time: I could not bear it any longer….. “take the teeth and bridge out, I HAVE to know what is underneath!”.


Joining in these link ups:

MidLife Share the Love: Here on Wednesdays

Lovin’ Life: Here on Thursdays

Open Slather: Here on Fridays.

Do visit these link ups and join in the reading and commenting. We ALL need each other here in the land of blogging and comments are our “GOLD”.




  1. It’s interesting to look back Denyse – interesting because you’ve been through more than you would ever have expected, conquered it, and in the process you conquered a lot of the anxiety and unsettledness that you talk about here. I’m so glad that you’ve survived and that you’ve thrived and you’re willing to be so honest in sharing your story.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • Yes it is and for this reason, I see the big value for me (and others who may be interested in terms of cancer diagnosis) to do this. I am literally remembering much of how it was for me in this time.

      It is helping me see that I “knew” I was not myself but without any medical or physical reason, had, for that time, blamed myself.

      I am much kinder towards “back then me” as I know how much I did try to ‘get well.’

      There will be two more posts and then…it will be the 2nd anniversary of the diagnosis.

      Thanks for your insight and kind words

      Denyse x

  2. It’s always interesting looking back on old journals to how we felt ‘back then’ with a different set of stimuli impacting our lives. I wonder if back then your body was already telling you something was wrong and it led to a general malaise. But more importantly I think it’s wonderful that you can look back and see that not all was rosy in your world, and yet despite a radical two year journey from almost breaking point to good health again you have come through stronger, more confident, able to share your story, and from where I’m looking – you look so well in the recent photo 🙂 much more well than the one taken two years ago. #MLSTL

    • Yes Jo, this is something I have thought about as has my husband. I was always a worrier and about illness too and for someone like me to ask medicos, dentists and my spouse “do you think I might have cancer?” I was fobbed off – to help me I know – and it was not something ANY of my professionals thought possible.

      So, yes this is a mysterious happening in my life as my Professor tells me I am a “rare of the rare” for this cancer with no risk factors.

      Nevertheless, I am very grateful for what I have learned about myself once diagnosed. I am finding it helpful to blog about this pre-diagnosis and will do 2 more posts leading up to the 2nd anniversary of diagnosis.

      Your words are very helpful and supportive. Thank you.

      Denyse x

  3. Hi Denyse, what a story you have to tell and with such a positive approach. Thanks for sharing your story and inspiring others to be strong when facing fear. #MLSTL

    • Thanks so much Sue. Today the less confident me is around…so reading this from you reminds me of my better days and moods.

      Denyse x

  4. Denyse, we often portray to others a different self to the reality of what troubles us within. I wonder why sometimes. It’s certainly interesting to go back and see how we were feeling during times that have past and to reflect on what we’ve learnt or understand better about outselves and others since then. You sure have been through some tough and scary times but you should be so proud of yourself for the grace with which you have navigated it all. xo #TeamLovinLife

    • Min, you’ve put it perfectly.

      Denyse, thank you for sharing your perspective and courage in facing the last couple of years.

      SSG xxx

    • Thanks Min, that is a very kind and generous comment.

      I think one of the reasons we do NOT portray our genuine selves in crisis is that we are ashamed and concerned about being embarrassed and being seen as “less”. This of course, can be the old anxiety/depression talking but for me that was quite real for a while.

      It did take the cancer diagnosis for me to re-emerge with greater strength than I had exhibited for some years.

      Denyse x

  5. Denyse, you are so right – writing about these things does help us and I’m so glad we get to share your memories but I know it’s hard for you at times. I’ve shared your post #mlstl

    • Thanks Debbie I am currently using my creative skills to make a mandala based on the two years since diagnosis! Interesting…it’s 720 sections…just as well I have ‘time’ and enjoy it!

      Denyse x

  6. I find it incredible how your body was talking to you. I find it interesting the mask we put over anxiety or unhappiness – and most of us do it. It’s sad that it takes a crisis to strip that back and expose the strength underneath.

    • So true but I “thought” I could fix things by mental work, meditation and all those so-called helpful things. No, it appears not but I sure have learned a LOT of life lessons and now can be better equipped as a result.

      Denyse x

  7. Thanks for sharing an awful time in your life. I am in awe at how you have gone through this time up to now, you should be so proud of the way you have come through and continue to tell your story xx

    • Thanks Alicia. I share because it helps me get the perspective I need too. If it also helps others then that is good. The last thing I even really wanted to be was a “cancer blogger” which is why I mix things up a lot so I don’t get bored myself with me!

      Denyse x

  8. Just to clarify, you made the discovery of the cancer (a good thing, found early enough) happen, you didn’t make the cancer happen? I think the cancer was making you anxious before you knew you had it. But part of your brain knew it was there. It must be quite interesting to piece together the puzzle in hindsight.

    • Correct to the extent we know.

      I did not ‘make’ the cancer happen but there is the theory that anytime our immune system is affected by, say in my case, stress and ageing, then cells can change.

      However my anxiety was worsened by the IBS which kept me ‘home’ and worried….it did worsen as the mouth got more sore and according to my journal notes back then, I questioned “could this be cancer” to my GP, dentist and husband who all said “no” because at that point they thought it was me being anxious. Sigh.

      My professor who is a head and neck cancer surgeon tells me I am the “rare example of the rare cancers”. No risk factors.

      So, I will never really know and whilst I am OK with that, I will continue to help others via my Ambassador work because not many people know about head and neck cancers at all.

      Denyse x

  9. Once again, I am deeply touched by your story Denyse, by the deep personal nature of it and your strength in overcoming against all odds. Thank you for sharing it with us. #MLSTL

    • Thank you Christie. I “need” to tell and share the story, especially with the 2 year anniversary of diagnosis coming up.

      I sense in me that once that time is reached, I will be wanting to move to other ideas and topics but it has had quite the hold on me!

      Your words are always appreciated.

      Denyse x