Friday 1st July 2022

What Is 17 May All About? #HNC. 5 Years. 32/2022.

What Is 17 May All About? #HNC. 5 Years. 32/2022.

It’s 17th May 2022 as I write.

I wasn’t planning a post but this date “made me do one”.

It’s because 17 May 2017 was a hugely significant day in my life, as it was the day I was told I had squamous cell carcinoma in my upper gums.

The story has been told in a few places, here for the first post,  by me, but today I want to use pictures more than words!

Marking the time I knew I had cancer.


My progress: 2017 into 2019


2019: 2 years ‘reward’

And going to Sydney to see Hamilton as my 4th year ‘reward’…very special:


Each May, I have both remembered and because of my relatively good progress with recovering from this form of cancer I had, I like to appreciate my teams and my healing body too. And to my husband and family and friends (on-line and off!) : you all help my healing with your kindness, love and care. Thank you.

And now: 5 years on.

I admit it feels somewhat surreal. Perhaps I couldn’t ever see it coming? No matter, it has arrived. I am here. I am very glad to be well. Here’s my photos from today: Tuesday 17 May 2022.

Special way to remember:

The word ‘heart’ means a great deal to me after using the song, Heart, as part of my self-care and courage building on my many, many drives to and from Westmead for long stays in the chair…and of course, heart is connection to those I love, and who love me…and the universal message of love is about caring.

My ‘gift’ to me is this: a bracelet with links of hearts and infinity symbol because love is forever….

Thank you to everyone from my heart.



Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share later this week.

Thank you Natalie.



  1. Hi Denyse, it’s lovely to see you so happy after all that you went through to get to where you are today. That bracelet is such a pretty tribute to all those years of surgery and recovery and renewal. Here’s to the next 5 year and more that lie ahead. x

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thank you so much Leanne. 17 May sure is a date I won’t forget but I am also glad in some ways to leave it behind to the 5 years and its meaning.

      Of course I won’t ever forget but whilst I have marked it with this post and my new little bracelet I am moving on and with life I’ve yet to test and taste…one where I will no longer be focussing on having cancer and all that has entailed.

      So glad to have kind friends like you who are the cheerleaders I have needed.

      Warm wishes.


      PS Monday’s post relates to HNC but in a different way!

  2. I love the bracelet, and that you got a talisman (or something tangible for strength or reward). Very glad for the 5 year mark to pass successfully. What’s that line – you walk the path one step at a time but when you look back,you see you’ve climbed a mountain. #Weekendcoffeeshare

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much. Yes, something to mark the occasion has been important for me. I cannot recall anything for the first anniversary other than I had surgery #4…which in itself was a challenge because of the long and very uncomfortable wait for teeth…then of course the reward was my smile.

      It’s always been important for me to mark life’s milestones and I never really longed for the five year cancer one to come along because I know that once we have had cancer you never know when it may recur.

      Seeing as I won’t be having my last visit to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse till early September 2022 then maybe “that” will be my final (fingers crossed) sign off….

      Love the quote, thank you. Very apt.


  3. You are looking and hopefully, more importantly, feeling so good Denyse! It’s such a big day and you are right to record your memories and the changes that have taken place in those years. You are amazing, many thanks for sharing with us.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thank you for those lovely words, they mean a great deal.

      As I wend my way to September when I see my Prof and friend Cate for a final visit, then I think it will hit me…It’s done. Woah!

      Warm wishes to you dear friend,


  4. Denyse, Thank you for linking up with us at #weekendcoffeeshare. The 5-year mark is an amazing milestone after all the health challenges you had to overcome in those years. The bracelet is pretty and meaningful. Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much Natalie. I am mindful of marking the occasion in a small but significant way as we can let some things go rather than deal with the enormous emotional toll it had. I can still feel that at times so I remember the song, Heart and look at the bracelet.

      Appreciation for your kindness always and the link up.


  5. Denyse, your story is always amazing. Your very sore mouth picture looked very sore. That must have been after surgery #1. Glad you keep improving. An update on my situ is that I had an ultra sound on my leg and no surgery for the first time in 8 months. Yeah. I think I’m through the worst of that. Breast cancer seems to still be over. Lungs are clear and still working fine except when walking uphill at a mile high altitude. But that’s kind of normal. LOL Glad to see you doing so well.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Oh gosh, your health story of recent times has been pretty full on. I am sorry Marsha. Medical and surgical stuff is so all encompassing and of course worrying.

      For my recovery, I am very grateful. But, “once a cancer patient, we don’t tend to think its gone forever” but we remain watchful.

      Walking uphill and high altitude??? I cannot do that well at sea level.

      Take care my friend.


  6. So glad you recovered! The 5-year mark is a big one for cancer survivors, right? Congrats!

  7. Hi Denyse,
    I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone, but in your case and how you managed your way back to health, I have to admit, it left a beautiful woman to tell the story of how this all unfolded.
    Bravo my friend.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much for these kind and uplifting words, Gary.

      Lovely to know I have someone who cares across the big ocean known as the Pacific!!


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