Saturday 25th June 2022

Women Of Courage Series.#56 Cate Froggatt. 65/2021

Women Of Courage Series. #56 Cate Froggatt. 65/2021.

Two years ago….around this time of year, I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday.

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

There are people who come into our lives for a reason, as the saying goes. This woman of courage came into MY life because of my head and neck cancer diagnosis! She is Cate Froggatt, aged 52, Clinical Nurse Consultant for Prof. J Clark AM who is my Head and Neck Cancer Surgeon.

This woman and I have clicked…as they say…over chats, shared experiences as parents and with hugs and smiles at my regular visits to have cancer checks. However she is much more than that for me. Cate tells me I met her at or after my first surgery in July 2017 but like all things where an anaesthetic is involved, a verrrryy long one, I can’t recall.

She has, along with my Professor, her boss and friend, has been inside my mouth on a few occasions. When I go for a check at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (last one was in September 2020) I know (pre Covid anyway) I can get a hug and we share smiles and laughs too.

But she also is one of the people who knows a great deal about the surgeries I have had because she is part of the team that does many. A couple of memories of Cate from me. One is her blowing me a kiss after seeing me in the anaesthetic bay and wishing me well “see you sweetcheeks”…very comforting and another is the kind voice at the end of the phone when I was (very) concerned about the skin graft weeping after surgery #4…She said, I will show Jonathan the photos and get back to you. Within minutes, reassurance, get into the bath, take off the dressing and Bernard will have something there I am pretty sure, to cover it for you. He did. I was better after that.

And in receiving Cate’s story, she said “use any photo because I know you have plenty”. She is right. Here’s Cate’s story.

In Sept. 2020. “See you in a year”

Hug with Cate: early 2020


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

In a way I feel as if I have had to be courageous for most of my life.

Not in a ‘life and death’ kind of way, more like an ‘out of my comfort zone’ kind of a way.

It’s not the exciting kind of courage that gets written about in novels but rather the courage required by those who are innately shy and filled with anxiety about the possible disasters awaiting in the unknown and the unfamiliar.

I had to leave home when I was 12 to go to boarding school.

This was a situation which certainly required me to muster up some courage. Leaving the safety and security of parents and home was quite hard initially.

Following school I moved to Sydney to an apartment with two friends.

The sheer size of the city and the hustle and bustle was so far removed from all that was previously familiar to the three of us.

Just to go to the shops for groceries was an undertaking that required courage.

Let alone navigating public transport, working for the first time, attending university and meeting grown up responsibilities like rent and bills – all without Mum and Dad being close enough to call upon for help.

Being a parent requires courage although I think naivety saves the majority of us there – we have no clue what we are in for as we gaze lovingly down at our firstborns!

More recently my career has demanded significant courage.

Every day I feel like an imposter in a world where I am surrounded by the most amazing minds.

I stand beside my boss in awe of his intellect, his organisational skills and his ability to literally change the world.

The incredible opportunity I have been afforded by him to be able to contribute in a small way to the great things that are being achieved calls upon courage each day.

Finally as healthcare professionals we have all recently had to gather all our courage together in a rapidly changing world where each day of early 2020 brought with it new fears, new parameters and new demands on physically and emotionally exhausted bodies and minds.


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

All of these things have not so much changed me but shaped me into the person I am.


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

I have learned to ‘just do it’.

If you think you can, you probably can.

Have faith in those who have faith in you and never, ever underestimate the power of commitment and dedication.

Finally, if you can’t beat fear, do it scared!



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

Certainly. It becomes inherent.


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


Believe in yourself. As C.S. Lewis famously said ‘We are what we believe we are.’

The quickest way to acquire self-confidence is to do exactly what you are afraid of.


Ah Cate, those words about doing it scared. I know that too.

What a great way to own your courage and the examples just tell me and readers too, that courage IS a muscle we can work. Love your work…and you …I have been very fortunate to have been your patient as part of my head and neck cancer surgeries and recoveries.

I also thank you too for sharing my blog more widely with your colleagues and how this helped me become offered a role as an Ambassador for (then Beyond Five) which is now Head and Neck Cancer Australia!

Thank you Cate!

Do you have special health professional who has cared for you?

Share in the comments.

Thank you



This series continues over the next months.

If you have  story to share, please leave me a message in the comments.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.


Copyright © 2021 – All rights reserved.



  1. “If you can’t beat fear, do it scared”. All the YES’s to this. You certainly have been touched by some beautiful Earth Angels Denyse. Thank you both for sharing. Xx

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      I am indeed very grateful for those who have come into my life as health (and caring!) professionals. Cate epitomises that for me.

      Thank you Sandra. I “know” you get this!


    • Catriona Froggatt says:

      Denyse is the perfect example of how courage can get you through the most terrible of times. I am always astounded by how resilient and brave my patients are. Thanks so much for your comment Sandra.

  2. I’m glad you’re bringing this series back Denyse. Thank you for introducing us to Cate.

  3. Very nice to meet you here, Cate. I particularly love your answers to the last three questions. Thank you, Denyse, for introducing Cate to us and linking with #WeekendCoffeeShare.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      I am glad you found Cate’s story of interest as I did Natalie.

      Thank you.


    • Catriona Froggatt says:

      Thanks so much Natalie for your lovely comments. I do honestly think it’s true that the more you practice courage the more naturally it comes to you when needed.

  4. I somewhere along the line of my history started describing some of what Cate talked about as crossing a frozen river where the ice is broken up and slushing around while you jump from one to another, trying not slip through the gaps and always keep moving. So many efforts require this same type of courage because you can’t stop as all progress also halts but each step feels like a risk that you have limited means of controlling

    Great interview.
    Bravo to both you and Cate..

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Wow. Yes I can picture that illustration of courage very well indeed, Gary. Thank you. There “is” no going back really as we move forward in life. It’s just that some of those steps are hard(er)!

      Thanks for your kind words about the interview too.


    • Catriona Froggatt says:

      I know exactly what you mean Gary – so well described!

  5. It does take courage to face life-threatening illness, surgery,and medical procedures. I am a sensitive person and many of these experiences are very anxiety provoking. I did go through major surgery twice and came through it. I always appreciated the kindness of the Nurses, Doctors, and medical personnel.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Oh Deborah I hear you on the sensitivity too.

      I spent my first prosthodontic appointment after my cancer diagnosis crying on and off.

      They were tears based on uncertainty, fear and the picture I could not actually understand then of how my mouth would be reconstructed.

      Over time, I guess more than anything, I learned that all those caring for me (as you mention) were understanding and I could admit to my fears with less internal judgement.

      I send you my best wishes because sharing these aspects of what it is like to face uncertainty helps others who read know they are not alone.


  6. What an other wonderful post in this fabulous series Denyse. Cate is certainly a Woman of Courage and I admire you both for sharing these stories and inner most thoughts. I love ‘do it scared’ – what a great motto! Thanks to you both.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thank you too Deb, for commenting and being one of those Women of Courage too.

      I am indeed very grateful for the stories and also to know these people in real life and/or virtually.


    • Catriona Froggatt says:

      Thanks so much Debbie. The human spirit never ceases to amaze and inspire me. We are so lucky to have access to each other’s stories. Each one teaches us about others and also about ourselves.

  7. Great interview and series Denyse! Thank you for sharing. I loved these thoughts:

    Have faith in those who have faith in you and never, ever underestimate the power of commitment and dedication.

    Finally, if you can’t beat fear, do it scared!

    When our daughter was in HS and cut her head open during a soccer game, my hubby took her to the ER. She was nervous, it turned out the PA who helped her was a young man who at one time was a part of our church.

    Then years later when she had ACL surgery (which was very scary for all of us because you’re put under and we can’t be with her), her nurse was another gal who had been a part of our youth group. Both times proved to be such a comfort for us and for her.