Tuesday 24th May 2022

Women Of Courage Series. #23. Lisa Greissl. 108/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #23. Lisa Greissl. 108/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

Lisa Greissl, aged 35, and I met first on-line thanks to having our cancer treatments at the same place: Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and later when I became a ‘maker of bookmarks’ which I supplied over quite a few months in 2018 to be added to The Big Hug Boxes and Random Hug of Kindness Boxes. This woman has energy in her life propelled by her desire for spreading kindness and appreciation as well as the ‘joy of living’ post-cancer. Lisa’s story tells it better. However, I wanted to add, she is the most beautiful person inside and out, having met her family I can attest to much of the ‘why’ she needed to continue her life so fully post-cancer! Thanks Lisa. I do value your work and our friendship.




 What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

There have been many occasions requiring me to be courageous, but the most significant was just after the birth of my second daughter where I was sent by a midwife completing her home visit to myself and bub to get a scan.

Only 5 days after bub was born I was back in hospital after a blood clot was found in my main iliac vein and further investigations were to commence. Little did we know soon we would be calling on courage to get through the next year.

My family, friends and I were all left completely shocked as I was diagnosed surrounded by a group of around 10 specialists crammed into a little room saying that I had a rare form of cancer, a Teratoma on my spine.

We had no choice but to put on our courage cape and face this battle with everything we had. Even though I was the one facing the challenge I honestly believe during this time my family and friends had to be more courageous as they watched their loved one struggle through treatment and recovery whilst ensuring all the day to day tasks were taken care of. My husband in particular, had a two year old and a newborn to take care of whilst I was receiving treatment in Sydney.



How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

In this circumstance, being courageous was not an option. I chose to embed a positive mindset and a promise to never give up. As I was to find out as treatment progressed, It also put into perspective on what nothing to lose really meant.

This has changed me in approaching new challenges where I have chosen to embrace requiring courage in a positive way of achieving my dreams which has seen me achieve things that I never thought possible.


Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

Courage is not a switch on and switch off emotion. It is something embedded in all of us ready to be used when necessary, do not fear for the unknown but give yourself some peace in that when you need courage, you can and you will be able to use it.


Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

I now utilise courage often to believe in myself and what I can achieve.

Your mindset is a powerful tool to accomplish the what seems impossible and I continue to embed a mindset of “I can, I will”  which as mentioned I know is in within myself ready to be used in which I have surprised myself in what I can achieve. As a result of sharing stories and my mindset, I was able to create and become the Founder of the charity The Big Hug Box in 2018. Helping cancer patients find their courage through a giftbox filled with comforting and empowering products for patients facing cancer.


Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

I would be lying if there were not times where I questioned if I really had the courage to attempt to achieve my big goals but from my previous experiences, I now understand that courage multiplies courage.

I also understand the impact of the saying that “Hope is stronger than fear” and mindset is everything to assist in enduring the toughest of challenges, when we are at the most challenging point.

But also to add to this, courage is not just required in tough and difficult times, courage can be used when you have a goal and to add to the saying above that hope is greater than fear is that on the other side of hope is the uncapped magnitude to achieve your dreams, and that this is in the ability of everyone.



Lisa story is amazing and we have met. I offered to make bookmarks to be included in the Big Hug Boxes in 2018 and then as Lisa’s ideas spread to Random Hugs of Kindness Boxes I was part of a ‘packing team’ at her house further up the coast from mine. I met her family and friends, and one very special friend Tracy who was the first Ambassador for The Big Hug Box. Tragically Tracy’s cancer could not be tamed and she died after a life lived fully earlier this year. Lisa teaches me that resilience is important and to adjust your life to make the most of it. As a runner with a now-damaged leg from her surgery, Lisa turned to a new fitness activity and that is rowing. Her zest for life is infectious. Recently I sent a Big Hug Box to Tracey whose story was published recently. If you would like to share kindness with someone you know who has cancer, please click on the links and find out how.

Packing Random Hugs of Kindness Boxes. 2018.

Thank you for sharing, Denyse.

Social Media:

Blog/Website: www.thebighugbox.com

Facebook Page: The Big Hug Box

Instagram: @thebighugbox


Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.



  1. I loved receiving a big hug box and it gave me such a boost just when I needed it. Reading her story is a wonderful affirmation of the strength of human spirit and a desire to share her strength and resilience with every one of those boxes!
    A great woman of courage indeed

    • That is so good to know Tracey.

      Lisa is indeed a clever and creative person and her Big Hug Box represents so much of her innate kindness.

      Thank you for sharing your experience as a recipient of a Big Hug Box too.

      Denyse x

    • Dear Tracey,

      I am so pleased you loved receiving your Big Hug Box. Thankyou also for your kind words. The Human Spirit is indeed stronger than anything that can happen to it. Mix in this with gratitude and appreciation of life and nothing can stop you.

      Big Hugs,


  2. Hi Denyse and Lisa, what an inspiration you are. I can’t imagine the added stress of a cancer diagnosis just days after giving birth. You truly have made my day and made me appreciate all that I have. Thanks Denyse for sharing Lisa’s story of courage with us at #MLSTL. xx

    • Oh how lovely is that comment Sue.

      I am sure Lisa will be delighted to know ‘you made her day’.

      I am very grateful for her kindness to others and her friendship too.

      Denyse x

    • Hello Sue,

      I am so glad that my words resonated with you. It took some of my courage to shift focus from new mum mode back to me for a temporary amount of time, knowing that I needed to give myself all the energy in recovery was so important and trusting that at this time it was exactly what a needed to do and remove any sort of guilt. I am forever grateful and fortunate that with the support of family I could do this.

      Big Hugs


  3. I am pleased to hear that you both have recovered from cancer. Makes us all appreciate life even more. #MSTL

    • Thanks so much Suzanne.

      We are both well.

      “Cancer” never quite leaves us as a potential in the future but I know we both get on with life as it is NOW.

      Denyse x

    • Thankyou Suzanne,

      As I was so young (well fairly young!) when I received my diagnosis it was a shock, there was no way I would believe I would be facing thoughts of potentially not being here for my family so soon.

      It is amazing how our struggles make us appreciate the time where life seems easy so much more. The simple things in life really are the best. I can stop and appreciate the smallest things that make my day, and I absolutely love that!

  4. What a journey to have had to face at such a young age Lisa – congratulations on turning it around and conquering your fear and the cancer. Your husband is also amazing to have coped with two small children while worrying about you and your health. It’s amazing what the human spirit can achieve when put to the test and when choices are made to be proactive and positive. A great life story!
    Denyse, thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • Isn’t her story amazing?

      I know she and her closest family members lived a life on the edge for some time as Lisa was in Sydney and the children (one a young baby) were back in Newcastle.

      She is testament to how the mind can change us for the better in circumstances that are so devastating.

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Denyse x

    • Thankyou so much Leanne for your kind words.

      You are right, my husband really was a super man in all this (and he still is!)

      From the very first moment that something really wrong you definitely put your game face on and keep your head up. This is where my stubbornness would be considered a good trait – I was always out to prove everyone wrong – including cancer!

      Big Hugs


  5. That’s a really interesting concept about courage not being a switch on/switch off concept. I need to think about that a little more. Great post #Lovinglifelinky (and glad you are clear)

    • It’s good when we read something that makes us consider more or have a think.

      Each of the women of courage has provided us with stories of difference yet a common element is calling on their courage to keep going.

      Thank you for always making ME think!

      Denyse x

    • I believe we use courage every day.

      It is only in a situation where we are really pushed out of our comfort zone that we really begin to notice that we are actually using it. It is import to acknowledge that sometimes we struggle to find our own courage, and that is when it is important to lean on the strength and support of others around you when need, and it is at that point is that the only courage you need to find is to allow yourself to ask.

      Big Hugs


  6. What a story. And such a great insight that we all have a store of courage and hope that we can access when we need it most.

    • Yes it is certainly one woman’s story worth sharing and now that Lisa is well and making it her mission to share kindness and care via the Big Hug Box and Random Hugs of Kindness is awesome.

      Thank you.

      Denyse x

    • I am so glad that my words gave hope and comfort in their own courage that they hold.

      Courage is there waiting for you to use, for good and bad challenges. Don’t ever doubt it, you’ve got it when you need it. But if your struggling just find enough courage to ask for help, this was one of my biggest lessons during my experiences also.

      Big Hugs


  7. Wow. Denyse thank you for having Lisa as part of your series. What an inspirational lady you are Lisa. I am in awe of your courage, your positive mindset, your kindness and fantastic ideas to help others suffering with cancer. I found your words so meaningful and true and in particular nodded along to this: “Courage is not a switch on and switch off emotion. It is something embedded in all of us ready to be used when necessary, do not fear for the unknown but give yourself some peace in that when you need courage, you can and you will be able to use it.” I found this out two years ago during the six weeks my Dad was hospitalised and when he eventually passed away. What I feared I would not have was in there waiting for when it was needed. Wishing you happy and healthy days ahead. #TeamLovinLife

    • Lisa is truly a beautiful person inside and out and it’s a privilege to know her personally now.

      “Meeting” via our common place of healing: Chris O’Brien Lifehouse has been one we value and help shine the light on the great work being done in terms of research into aspects of cancer.

      All profits go to research as Lisa has made the Big Hug Box a charity.

      Thank you Min for your loving words and yes, remembering about your dad and the toll it was taking emotionally, you know you did well too.

      Denyse x

    • Dear Min,

      Thankyou for your kind words, I really appreciate them.

      To add to my comment of courage being embedded in all of us..

      I believe our ability to be courageous lies in our subconscious mind – it is almost unexplainable and unmeasurable at the time – It just comes to the front when needed.

      This would help explain for me also when looking back and not really understanding how on earth I got through such big challenges.. I actually do that a lot. I think it is because now I am trying to process and rationalise what I achieved and how I got there. I hope this makes sense.

      I am incredibly sorry to hear the loss of your Father, I am thinking of you and sending Big Hugs your way.

      With Kindness


  8. Lisa’s story is inspiring Denyse, many thanks for sharing. It’s so true that we never know when these sorts of things will impact on us and how we will cope. Lisa’s story is full of hope and positivity! #mlstl

    • It is so true. If you have heard of Leigh Sales “Any Ordinary Day” she recounts stories of her own and others about how one minute life is chuffing along…next…Powerful book.

      Thanks for your lovely comment. You know only too well about things which impact.

      Denyse x

  9. Dorothy Allison says:

    Lisa, your words about courage being a constant cape resonates strongly with me.

  10. My goodness, such beautiful intentions can come from the most horrid of times. Inspirational! Xx

    • She is a wonderful and inspirational person alright and I feel privileged not only to now know her but that she also was fine about sharing her story with us…and beyond! It’s now gone onto the CancerAid app for others to read.

      Denyse x

  11. Such an inspiring story; thanks for sharing it Lisa and Denyse. When life throws curveballs, sometimes we have to pluck up the courage somehow to face those, don’t we? It’s so inspiring to read these stories.

    • It makes us stop and take note when we read of others’ stories there is no doubt about it.

      I think of Leigh Sales book too, Any Ordinary Day.

      Denyse x

  12. Hi Denyse, Thank you for featuring Lisa on your blog. You bring up a word that continues to surface this year. The “why” we do things.

    Nice to meet you, Lisa. I appreciate you sharing your story. You likely do not always know when you make a difference in people’s lives. I like your phrase “courage cape.” I have a friend who has gone through serious challenges in her life and she has also used phrases like “courage was not an option.” And “courage multiplies courage.”

    Lisa and Denyse, you are both an inspiration and create a ripple effect of good into this world. Thank you. #MLSTL

    • Thank you for such kind and understanding words Erica,

      Stories do bring us closer as a world wide community and your words from your friend resonated with me too.

      I admit I was initially very scared when I started my cancer journey but as time went on, I just kept on doing what I had to do. I never thought “I am being courageous” but I was. And now that courage continues to stay with me to meet other life challenges.

      Denyse x

  13. What a great charity. My sister was diagnosed with melanoma, which had spread to her lymph nodes. When she started treatment, I gave her a gift box with a small gift to open one per week. I felt I wanted to do something for her in a situation where there wasn’t much I could actually do. She told me later how she looked forward to opening each gift after her treatment. To do that on a larger scale for complete strangers is a lovely gesture.

    You are both such courageous women. Thanks for sharing your stories and inspiring me.

    • What a shock that must have been for your whole family, let alone your sister.

      Feeling ‘powerless’ is the worst when we just want to ‘fix things’ for loved ones.

      Your gesture was a wonderful and memorable one. Lovely and loving too.

      Lisa had made an idea for others with cancer so that family and friends can help by sending The Big Hug Boxes which are full of the most suitable and lovely items.

      Thanks so much Christie. I hope your sister is doing well now. In Australia melanoma is such a common yet horrible version of cancer.

      Sending love
      Denyse x

  14. HI Lisa. So lovely to “meet” you. Thanks for sharing your story.
    Random Hugs of Kindness! I love that xoxo