Thursday 24th September 2020

Head & Neck Cancer.

Denyse – Her Head & Neck Cancer Story.

May 2017 onwards. 

Day Before: Surgery. Last time I had (fake) top teeth.

When I first did a blog post called “I Have Cancer” it blew me away that so many people not only read that post but commented and supported me in the most difficult of life’s challenges: being diagnosed with cancer.

Initially I wanted to keep the cancer story as just a part of my regular blogging and not to highlight it or become known as a cancer blogger as there is so much more to me than cancer. However, a friend who started blogging here after her initial cancer diagnosis wrote some very helpful (to me and others I am sure) posts and when I wanted to compare how I was feeling to another, it was reassuring that everything was pretty normal from the emotional highs and lows to getting to know how to navigate the hospital and medical institutions.

So, now over 3 months since my surgery and almost 5 months since diagnosis I have added this page to the blog header. I have links here to my posts and they are also on another page.

Day I was discharged to come home.

IF this helps a reader who pops in then I am glad. If you wish to connect with me, there are various ways below or simply send me an email:

Updated: 21 February 2020.

HELPFUL PLACES ONLINE. Updated: 21 February 2020.

I have found this site Beyond Five very helpful and I follow the site on Instagram and Facebook. I also follow Chris O’Brien Lifehouse on social media and here is the link to that site. Other helpful sites: Cancer Council of Australia here and Cancer Council of NSW too here. They have people you can talk to and much information on their websites too. Phone: 13 11 20.

To follow me on my blog: you can do that via Bloglovin’ or the Facebook Page: Denyse Whelan Blogs. My Instagram: denysewhelan_blogs and @denysewhelan are both now public 

I am on twitter as @denysewhelan1. When I publish a blog post, it goes to Bloglovin, my blog FB page, and to my twitter account. 



More posts are added at they are relevant to The Cancer Story!

Visit to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to see my surgeon: Prof Jonathan Clark on 1 May 2018 where a 4th surgery was planned. 3rd surgery had not done the work required for me to ‘get teeth’ eventually.

Update: On 21 August 2018

I had my upper prosthesis screwed into the abutments in my upper ‘jaw’. It was an amazing transformation as now I could  S M I L E and E A T. However, it comes with its own set of challenges! I cannot always remember that I have teeth up top and forget to smile….and some foods remain pretty challenging to eat. But, in a strange way, I now think learning to eat small and from a relatively more nutritious set of foods I do not crave nor want anything like I thought. I have tried Maccas fries and they were too greasy.

I do have a morning maintenance routine to care for the non-removable prosthesis and so far so good. I clean the mouth via a water pik, then using a small micro brush tip dipped in chlorohexadine, I prise my lips at the top open and poke the little stick in, taking care and it gets off any plaque which might be attached. I then clean my bottom natural teeth with my electric toothbrush, and clean the upper ones with a very soft toothbrush. In between times, after eating, I will use the water pik.


Since being diagnosed with a pretty unusual cancer for a non-smoker and non-drinking older woman in her late 60s I have blogged about what it has been like to:

  1. find out that I have cancer
  2. the steps I had to take to move courageously towards getting the right treatment which was surgery
  3. recover from a very gruelling surgery
  4. come home and learn how to be patient…not  easy
  5. to be grateful for the small things in each day
  6. have the knowledge that cancer affects so many of us
  7. become part of a ‘group’ no-one really wants to belong to
  8. garner courage and skills to help myself deal with all that has arisen to date.

Update: 21 February 2020.

This week I have had my 40th trip to Westmead to Oral Sciences where my prosthodontist, Dr Suhas Deshpande conducted an examination of my upper mouth (and the lower teeth for a mouth check too). His verdict was that I am doing well keeping the abutments which attach the prosthesis to my ‘reconstructed jaw’ clean. That is a relief. I still get a bit anxious as these visits are stretching out to 3 month intervals now. However, it is good to know I am OK.

Soon I will see my Professor, Jonathan Clark for a 4 month cancer check at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

In the coming week, on 27 February 2020, I am taking part in a video on head and neck patient nutrition being made by Beyond Five. I am sure there will be more of this to share later.


2017 Posts:

I Have Cancer. 2017.72.

My Cancer Journey Begins. 2017.75.

What’s in a word? Cancer. 2017.82.

I Am Back! 2017.89.

I Am Grateful Today. Cancer Surgery#1 Part One. 2017.91.

I Am Grateful Today. Cancer Surgery #1. Part Two. 2017.94.

I Am Grateful Today. Cancer Surgery #1.Part 3. 2017.98.

Reality Bites. Part One. 2017.96.

Reality Bites. Part Two. 2017.100.

Courage, Exposure Challenges & Me. Part One. 2017.110.

Courage, Exposure Challenges & Me. Part Two. 2017.112.



My Cancer & Surgery #2. 2017.128.


2018 Posts.

Eating After My Gum Cancer Surgery. Part One. 2018.18.

Eating After My Gum Cancer Surgery. Part Two. 2018.24.

My Cancer Surgery #3. 2018.20.

My Last Meal Was. #LifeThisWeek 11/52. 2018.23.



Changes To ‘MY’* Cancer Recovery Plan. 2018.30.



On 3rd April 2018 my story was published here on Lifehouse News after the writer contacted me and gleaned much of her content from this blog. I am delighted that it may help another person one day as when I was diagnosed I had very little knowledge of what was ahead.


My Head & Neck Cancer 1st Anniversary. Pt 1. 2018.44.

My Head & Neck Cancer 1st Anniversary. Pt 2. 2018.46.

Guest Posts by Denyse on Others’ Blogs.

The Gratitude Series – Introducing Denyse Whelan

One Year After My Major Cancer Surgery. 2018.59.

I was featured here by my blogging (and cancer thriver) friend, The Annoyed Thyroid:

My story is here on the CancerAid App too:

Oral Health & More From This Head & Neck Cancer Patient. 2018.71.

Cancer Is Always ‘There’. 2018.84

But It IS Still About Cancer. 2018.103.

Two Steps Forward. One Step Back. My Cancer Recovery Update. 2018.126.

Can People Thrive After Cancer?

Head & Neck Cancer: “Beyond Five” Ambassadorship.2018.130.

Not A Smooth Recovery Path For Me: Head & Neck Cancer. 2018.133.

2019 Posts.

Eating With No Teeth*- Head & Neck Cancer. 17/2019.


Two Years Ago: Before My Cancer Was Diagnosed. Pt 1. 20/2019.


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

Two Years Ago: Before My Cancer Was Diagnosed. Pt 3. 35/2019.

Two Years Ago: Before My Cancer Was Diagnosed. Pt 4. 46/2019.

Two Years Ago: Before My Cancer Was Diagnosed. Series Concludes. 51/2019.

Musings On 2 Years Of Living As A Head & Neck Cancer Patient. 56/2019.

Head & Neck Cancer. June Updates & WHNCDay 2019. 64/2019.

Share Your Snaps #5. #LTW25/51. My Head & Neck Cancer Photos 2017-2019. 71/2019.

Share Your Snaps #6. 30/51*. #LifeThisWeek. 81/2019.

My First Year With Teeth*! 33/51 #LifeThisWeek. 87/2019.

My Latest Head & Neck Cancer News.120/2019.

2020 Posts.

Changes For The Good: Head & Neck Cancer & Me: Eating. 15/2020.

The Value Of A Smile. 46.1./2020.

World Head & Neck Cancer Day 2020. 29/51 #LifeThisWeek. 58/2020.

Share Your Snaps #6 #WHNCD. 30/51#LifeThisWeek. 60/2020.

Head & Neck Cancer Challenges: FOOD! 31/51#LifeThisWeek. 62/2020.

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