Sunday 26th June 2022

Women Of Courage Series. #43 Christina Henry. 47/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #43 Christina Henry. 47/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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.

I was so pleased when Christina Henry, aged 54, decided to accept my invitation to share her story as a woman of courage. We are Australian bloggers who catch up by following each other’s blog posts on a weekly link-up called Mid-Life Share The Love which is hosted by two previously featured Women of Courage: Sue, whose story is here and and Leanne who shared here too. Welcome Christina!


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

One of the scariest times in my life was in 2010 when I was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.

I was a single mother of two teenaged boys and had to undergo several heart procedures.

During one angiogram I was paralysed but still aware so I couldn’t let the doctors know I was awake, and could feel everything.  After another angiogram I bled from the insertion site and went into complete heart block for 6 minutes, requiring CPR.

If I hadn’t still been in the hospital I would have died



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

Knowing I was that close to dying changed my outlook on life.

I never take for granted the gift of life, and I value the people close to me very much.

I was terrified of leaving my sons motherless so staying healthy has always been a priority.

I lost my own mother to cancer when I was 24 and did not want my sons to go through a life without me in it.



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

If you are facing challenges and feel scared and anxious, get support.

I’ve cried on my friends’ shoulders many times.

Admit you’re scared – there’s nothing to be ashamed of in voicing your fears.

I’ve found support from others who have gone through the same thing invaluable, so find out if there is a support group that you can join.

There are groups online as well, such as facebook groups.  I have sought help from counsellors as well if I need it.



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

I am about to face more health challenges this year and my priority is to do everything I can to keep my body as healthy as possible.

I have been diagnosed with BRCA 2 gene mutation which puts me in high risk for ovarian and breast cancer, so I have chosen to have risk reducing surgery – removal of my ovaries and a double mastectomy.

It’s really scary, but the thought of having cancer scares me more.



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

Just take one day at a time, and get through each challenge before you tackle the next.

For example, each doctor’s visit, or diagnostic test, or operation.  When it’s a medical issue, there are often so many appointments to get to.

I look at the calendar each night and work out where I have to be tomorrow.

Take a support person to the ones that you worry about the most, especially specialist appointments.

There’s usually so much information to take it that it can be overwhelming.  Having someone with you can calm you and they will be able to recall the things that you can’t remember.


Add anything else that you think would help others who read your post.

Facing challenges in life can be overwhelming.

Life can seem to spiral out of control.

In these situations, if you admit you don’t have control it gives you a sense of relief.

If you are a spiritual person it can help to hand it all over to God and say, I know it is out of my control. My life is in your hands, what will be will be.

At the present time the world is being challenged by Covid-19.

We are having to adjust to lockdowns, lifestyle changes and risks to our health – no-one can escape this unless they are on a desert island somewhere.

It is completely out of our control and many people are struggling with it, including myself.

We can’t control everything, but we can control ourselves.

Only get advice from respected official sources and block out the rest – there is so much misinformation out there, and it can be overwhelming.

Get help if you’re struggling.


So much courage in those words Christina and yet there is so much to be  scared about. You have a big hurdle of challenges health-wise to overcome, and I wish you all the best in terms of recovery and future good health. So much advice there based on your personal experiences.

Thank you.

I have included some counselling links too, for anyone who may need them. Cancer Council Australia has links too, for the two cancers you are doing all you can to prevent.


Do check out Christina’s sites under her name: midlifestylist.






The following information may be helpful to you or another. These are Australian-based.

  • Your Family G.P. can be a helpful person to listen and make referrals.
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
  • Phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for 24 hour assessment, referral, advice, and hospital and community health centre contact details
  • Qualified Psychologists can be found by visiting
  • Australian Counselling Association is on 1300 784 333 to find a counsellor
  • Cancer Council Australia:



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.

Copyright © 2020 – All rights reserved.



  1. Oh my! Christina is so courageous having to deal with all of this and making such big decisions. My heart goes out to you Christina and I send you good wishes as you move through these issues. Thanks Denyse for sharing another fabulous woman of courage! #mlstl

    • Thank you Debbie, for your kind wishes. The decision to have the surgeries was actually very easy for me – it was either have the surgeries now or risk having to have them when I have cancer. Staying alive for my family has been the overriding reason behind all my decisions this year. Regards, Christina

    • Thanks Debbie, I agree that Christina’s story does cover many issues that she has faced with courage, despite the fear. Very grateful she shared her story.


  2. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of in voicing your fears”. Early on in my own health challenges I felt like such a failure in my fight for life. I was far from any smiling poster girl supposedly kicking cancers butt and I certainly wasn’t dancing around singing what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. (Kudos to those that can and do).

    Thankfully I realised I wasn’t a failure. What others saw as not coping I began to see as my truth. Only I knew the strength it took to actually crawl out of bed, have that shower and then collapse on the couch in tears.

    Strength and courage are often intrinsic allies, not always recognised by the eyes of the well meaning. Finding that shoulder who accepts your tears and fears as your truth is an invaluable gift of support and unconditional love.

    Keep speaking your truth without shame Christina. I wish you an abundance of non-judgemental shoulders to sit with you through the challenging times ahead and may your own resilience muscle continue to serve you well through your healing.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and your wisdom.

    With love, Sandra. Xx

    • What beautiful words Sandra. Thank you. Yes, I have cried many many tears this year. It hasn’t been easy. I too feel that it’s not a sign of failure, because if I didn’t cry I’d be stuffing it all down and covering it up with other emotions which wouldn’t have been good for my health. It’s o.k. to admit we’re powerless sometimes. I’ve found support in unexpected ways, and it’s often from people such as yourself who have gone through similar battles. I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to write such beautiful comments, thank you so much, regards Christina

      • Sandra has so many words of wisdom. I love the thought she puts into her responses, the care and love share. She is a woman of courage indeed.


    • Thank you Sandra for your heartfelt, kind and true words written to show your understanding and respect for Christina’s story. You both have many qualities that others can see, and now you too feel them. This is the best.


  3. Thank you Denyse for sharing my story. As you know I’m already past my surgeries and am recovering at home. It hasn’t been an easy ride by any means but I don’t regret my decision to have the prophylactic surgeries. I hope my story inspires others to be courageous with whatever they are facing. We all have our own battles but if we can use that experience to help others, that is beautiful. Regards, Christina

    • What a tale you have shared and I am fortunate to have women of your calibre and background come forward to share.

      My belief is we are here as a community and whilst our stories will have differences, they all have the common element of love, kindness, overcoming fear…or indeed living with fear …and getting on with life as best they can.

      Your story epitomises that courage, Christina.


  4. Thank you for another inspiring story. Christina, I hope you are doing well and remaining Covid-free. I agree with the sentiment that sometimes when you admit that there is something you can’t control it frees you.

    • Yes Michele, how true that is.

      Freeing ourselves of the constraints of trying to hold everything together when that is an impossibility is a good realisation.

      Thank you,


    • Hi Michele, Yes I’m Covid-free and resting and recuperating at home. I’m glad my story resonated with you in some way. Thank you for your comments, regards Christina

  5. Christina you’ve certainly had a rough ride health-wise. So many major issues (and also so many poor outcomes from your surgeries!) So glad you’ve made it through them all and that hopefully this is the last of it for a while and you can start to relax and enjoy life with your friends and family. x
    Denyse, thanks for linking this up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM

  6. Such a lot you have been through, Christina, and the things ahead. I love your honesty, and I could not agree more about sticking to official information sources, and discarding thew half-assed opinions so prevalent out there, online especially. #MLSTL

    • Hi Enda, yes it’s become really annoying how many conspiracy theories or plain wacky ones are circulating. Even worse when one of the worst perpetrators is ruler of the largest economy in the world! Regards Christina

    • Thank you Enda for your thoughtful comment today. I found I needed to stick to the correct information sources myself when I had cancer.


  7. Christina you are definitely a courageous woman and have had to dig deep to overcome your challenges especially lately. Such an inspiration to us all and I thank you for sharing your thoughts in this series. Your advice about realising what is and isn’t in your control is so important. We sometimes use all of our energy fighting against things that we have no control of, rather than letting go and concentrating on those things within our control. Thanks Denyse for sharing Christina’s story with us at #MLSTL she is one inspiring lady! xx

    • Hi Sue, thank you so much for your lovely comments. That’s so true, fighting against things that we have no control of is draining and frustrating. Better to channel your energy into building up your strength and resilience. Regards, Christina

    • Yes Sue, I was very taken with Christina’s story of courage. It is multi-levels of courage for sure. Her sharing helps us all be better informed too.

      Thank you,


  8. My goodness Christina, you’ve sure had some health challenges to deal with! The incident with your heart procedure where you were alert but unable to communicate must have been terrifying. With regards to your diagnosis of having the BRCA 2 gene mutation, I admire your courage to have precautionary surgery very much. I see in the comments that this surgery has been done now and you are recovering. I hope that your recovery is swift and incident free. You are an inspiration to us all and your story is a very good reminder to not take good health and our lives for granted. Take care and thank you Denyse for inviting Christina to share her story as part of your series. xo

    • Hi Min, yes I have had a lot to deal with and that incident during the angiogram was one of the worst. It gave me post traumatic stress for a long time afterwards! I never go into these things expecting to have complications so it’s always a shock when they happen. I plan to stay away from hospital theatres for a long time! Thank you for your lovely comments, regards Christina

    • Thanks Min. It’s when you read a person’s story such as Christina’s you get a new and different perspective on what one human can do and be. Very courageous in her choices and it’s good to know she is doing well.


  9. That’s such a massive decision to make – especially after your previous challenges. I can’t imagine how terrifying it must have been to be aware for that procedure & not be able communicate. Thanks for sharing your story and wishing you fast healing for your upcoming surgeries.

    • Hi Joanne, it was actually really easy to make the decision and even though my surgeries haven’t gone smoothly I still don’t regret having them done. I’m more scared of cancer than having operations. Thank you for your kind wishes, regards Christina

    • A very big decision alright and I admire Christina for making the best decision for her and her family. It is a lot for one person to endure which makes her courage even more outstanding.

      Thank you Jo,


  10. Thank you for the great advice, Christina. Taking one day at a time and releasing control can get you through just about anything–as you have shown us through your example. And, of course, building a support system. Good luck with your health. I am sending love and healing thoughts to you.