Tuesday 24th May 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.

Denyse.

17.05.2022.

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

Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

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Being Me & The Month That Was April 2022. #WOTY. 28/2022.

Being Me & The Month That Was April 2022. #WOTY. 28/2022.

Word Of the Year Link Up Party.

Joining in with these kind bloggers:

hosted by friends Deb, Sue,  Donna and  Jo too.

You too can join in, clicking on one the above links:

Look for this image, and add your post.

 

April 2022: Being Me & The Month That Was. 

April started for ‘being me’  with less self confidence and some inner conflict.

I have been at odds with my perceived appearance (once a woman with overeating and overweight issues) that I could not shake. I needed evidence. Fortunately for me, and my current images, I now know my mind has been telling me stories. Who knew*? *sarcastic font.

And that was one of the reasons, lack of some self confidence,  I chose to make myself (and anyone who wanted to join in) a 30 Day Challenge via social media. Instagram specifically.

Being Self-Compassionate!

Dear Readers, I stopped the challenge at Day 20. I was getting little to no  engagement via my daily posts. And whilst I was wanting some likes and perhaps a comment, nothing happened. I like to engage with those who comment. So, I was a bit sorry that it did not happen. I was also taking part in a daily challenge from Fat Mum Slim about food, and using it to share knowledge and experiences from my head and neck cancer. And I stopped it at Day 20 as well.

 

Lesson learned: Perhaps I post too much and perhaps with an expectation of interest in what I post. But I can see, that having a private account, along with content that my on-line followers have seen enough of since 2017.

I am unlinking instagram from the blog as it truly was a nuisance with its updates. I am now just posting on Instagram when I have something I want to share. I have also unlinked Instagram from the Denyse Whelan Blogs facebook page. AND, in case you are not aware, I have deleted as many photos as I wanted to because Meta (owner of both FB and IG) own the images until you delete them. It takes a while to do it. But I didn’t want as much on line.

On Changing & Ageing…Being Me.

It’s all very well for people to say, “oh age is just an attitude”…and yes to an extent that is true but to deny the fact that we humans age in many ways (all different for each of us) but towards the common denominator called death, is for me and my husband, a non-realistic way to LIVE in the NOW, but keeping an EYE on our future.

What We Both Love About This Time Of Our Lives Is:

  • being together for parts of the day, week and so on
  • having some separate and private times
  • pursuing our differing interests and hobbies
  • coming together a few times each day, and at 9 p.m. to chat, laugh and listen
  • no one to answer to any more…no bosses!
  • lack of direct  responsibility for any other humans…those dear kids are in their 40s & 50s with our fast growing up grandkids as their responsibility
  • where we live now
  • having a limited but sufficient income with which to live our now modest lives

We went to Norah Head Lighthouse on Good Friday.

What We Accept Is Coming…one day…who knows when?

Our different and chronic health issues may impede some of our planning.

Already we have accepted that for two different reasons, both physical changes within us, we cannot travel or have a night staying anywhere. We both have eating and digestive issues that are managed with ease at home, and whilst we can venture to a cafe for morning tea or visit our family for a meal, that is it now.

My husband has a severely comprised spine – surgeries have helped him stay upright – and pain is with him 24/7 so he is most comfortable at home with all the needs met here. And of course, my reconstructed mouth means eating away from home is in fact, too hard!

I tend to want to know, research and read…(and listen if it’s via Audible) and “he” has learned so much in his University Counselling Degree and working as a Counsellor that he listens to me and nods ….because, dear Reader, is he WISE!

Mind you, we both do still learn from each other and he is understanding of my need to know and with my father’s age at 98 I have seen so much about ageing as it happens to him..I want to understand more about what it not only IS but what I can accept…so, learning for life me, learns! Here’s a few ways:

And this is truly BEing ME!

BEing Me.

Has changed considerably this year.

For the better.

I have, finally, taken stock of what was causing me some anxiety and worry and stopped being an always happy to say YES person.

I now have worked out whose health matters most, mental and physical and that is mine.

I know not everyone can see why I might now have changed but I have had to change.

I was being stressed over small matters that grew into big ones and they were, generally about people-pleasing.

It’s something I am more aware of now and seek to take a pause before I respond to something that perhaps I may have said yes to in the past.

On some occasions I wear my family circles but every day I wear this, a small heart within a heart to remind me of inner and self love.

Now, back to April: The Month That Was.

And some more:

I have visited Dad more often as the weather has brightened and he is needing company. I also bring little treats and food.

He no longer wants me to take photos of him but when he went to my brother’s for Easter, this image was taken and I love it….will be taking a copy “blown up” so he can see it next week. This is his youngest great grandchild and there is 97 years and 4 months difference in their age!

And that, my friends is April…..Word of the Year progress noted….and on Sunday it is May!

May, for many, can bring memories of Mother’s Days…and mothering, and grand mothering too if you get to do that.

It’s the month in which my oral cancer was diagnosed and my life changed from that time onwards.

Yes, there will be a post (or two) in May about it….

Take care,

Denyse.

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My First “What’s on My Bookshelf?” Post. 26/2022.

My First “What’s on My Bookshelf?” Post. 26/2022.

I’ve been seeing post from various blogging friends for some time now, for this link up “What’s On Your Bookshelf?” and for a few reasons I have not joined in. Those reasons included “time” and “energy to blog” because I have slowed down my blogging pace and output, and the fact that I got caught up in the myth (mine) that listening to books was not part of this challenge. IT IS…and so here I am.

Thanks to Jo, Deb, Sue and Donna who host this.

What Am I Reading/Listening To Lately?

What a shock. Denyse Reads Fiction.

The good news is I am reading actual books…which for some time I just could not. The Mother by Jane Caro got me going and kept me going and now, I have been fiction  (yes, fiction!) book browsing. Its theme, whilst modern and topical,  is a very dark one. About men, coercive control and psychological bullying/harrasment/threats. I can’t write much more without giving too much away. It started slowly and built up in content and with details I found of interest as they were places known to me…and then, it got into the main reason for its content. Hearing Jane speak about it and how she came about the characters and so on, was very interesting too.

From Audible. So yes I can listen to fiction too.

It started slowly for me but I have become engrossed in it…and found it’s coming out on Apple as a series: Pachinko is the second novel by Harlem-based author and journalist Min Jin Lee. Published in 2017, Pachinko is an epic historical fiction novel following a Korean family that immigrates to Japan. I believe Barack Obama is a fan of this work. I have not yet finished yesterday.  Very long but keeping me interested.

I Read To Learn & Understand More About Me…and Others. 

In between times, on Audible, I am listening to this: The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. Everyone who has lived needs to know more about how their life has affected them…truly great research and very good in its sharing. It is for both professionals and “us”.

“Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Such experiences inevitably leave traces on minds, emotions, and even on biology. Sadly, trauma sufferers frequently pass on their stress to their partners and children.”

Another very very long one, and we also bought the book. Much head-nodding in some places and understanding so much more about effects of trauma. It’s not a very recent publication but it is incredibly relevant and many who work in the field call it one of the ‘musts’. Finished now too. Excellent.  Did you know “trauma” affects more people in the U.S.A. annually than death by shooting  and car accidents. Fact at time of author’s writing.

 

Interestingly, this next book could have had many examples of post war trauma examples but “back then” men (and women maybe) were not encouraged to share or to admit to the fears of the fighting and the outcomes. In our family, I have an uncle who went missing AWOL. And he did time in a military prison ….’for not wanting to be part of the war effort’.

 

I’m listening to Peter Fitzsimon’s massive tome Kokoda …Peter does not know how to write short books..mind you he can do a weekly column…A few years back B and I went to a local talk by Peter, who grew up on the Central Coast and he is the ultimate story teller. Very amusing. Lots of competition at home for a word in, being married to Lisa Wilkinson and now their daughter Billie is an editor of an on-line news service.

I am doing this story in sections as I sit and do some art. I thought I knew about where Australians took part in the wars but was very sketchy about the New Guinea part of the war, despite having an uncle and father in law who served there. It is a very long listen and his researchers are hard workers. The personal stories are priceless and paint a picture of a long- ago Australia.

Time to consider these two books, and the ramifications in the lead up to A.N.Z.A.C. Day.

A.N.Z.A.C. Day 2021. I went at dawn to watch the sun rise.

Comfort Books.

Here’s a couple.

Pema Chodron’s Comfortable with Uncertainty. This small but incredibly wise and in some ways hard-to-understand tome, is wisdom learned, and shared…over and over and over again. Because we need to reflect. I first started reading these small chapters a night well over 5 years ago before my cancer diagnosis. I had confusion at times with the messages because they seemed so tough. I have, however, in the ensuing 5+ years learned so much more about acceptance and what is suffering…that now when I read or dip into a chapter, I far more likely to smile. And nod. It’s beside my bed.

Tara Brach is a favourite teacher of mine from the world of meditation and learning about ‘life’ as it is. She has an amazing way in which she shares her faults and failings (like us all) and then making it a teaching moment. Tara has, via her books and CDs and podcasts and now on Calm as a Meditation teacher, been a consistent and loving presence in my life. Her latest book here, Trusting the Gold is a dip in and out of one of comfort. Love it too.

The one on the bottom is new and not yet finished. If I do a second post for On My Bookshelf I will write about it there. Very interesting by Indira Naidoo it’s called The Space Between the Stars,  and in some ways has been likened Julia Baird’s Phosphoresence. I found Julia’s book overly challenging  to handle for me personally because of my thoughts I have about privilege…’nuff said..but the cancer part of her book hit home.

Loving a Book on Audible Means:

I buy the actual copy.

I also have to love the narrator’s voice.

I prefer the voice to be the author…as it works for the content.

In two cases I offer this: Trent Dalton is a great narrator of his recent publication Love Stories. However, his first fiction book, Boy Swallows Universe required a range of male voices and the actor who narrated it was, for me PERFECT. Then, massive disappointment for me with All Our Shimmering Skies. I found the content hard and some of it was overly lengthy but the narrator’s voice..female, spoiled it so much, I couldn’t wait for it to end.

Peter Fitzsimon’s book, narrated  by Lewis Fitz-Gerald is wonderful as he is an Aussie actor of a similar vintage to Peter.

I love Dr Kathryn Mannix’s books and may write more about them next time. However, the first one is only partially narrated by her and I didn’t realise fully until I read/listened to the next. Her personal warmth and experience added much more to the book’s topic and I love her for that.

I also listen to books again on Audible. I like that I have the ability to do that.

I also used to listen on my longer car trips to and from Sydney but now that most of my appointments are no longer needed, I play them in small episodes as I drive around locally, and at times, in bed.

So for my first post and linking up, I think I have done well!

Thank you to the bloggers who follow this link up too.

Denyse.

 

 

 

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Back to Newcastle! #LifesStories.#LinkUp. 24/2022.

Welcome (back) to Life’s Stories.

A Fortnightly Link Up here. The dates for the year are here and I hope you can keep on linking up too.

Back to Newcastle! #LifesStories.#LinkUp. 24/2022.

Since moving from Sydney to the New South Wales Central Coast, Newcastle is a big city closer to us than ever before.

It has changed immensely in the decades of this and last century. Going from a fully industrially-centred place (coal, steel making and more) to a renewed up-market place with inner city Sydney vibes, and harbour views along with beaches.

I’ve been to “Newy” (Newcastle) most years we have been up this way. Newy, by the way, is an affectionate term we Aussies seem to do with cities, places and people’s names: we shorten them affectionately.

About an hour from our place, along the M1 to the city centre makes it a pretty easy trip. With some help from google maps of course.

I was off to the Newcastle Writers Festival 2022 and made sure I had a car space booked. I am a planner and I do not apologise for that!

But first, I had a small crisis of confidence about appearance so needed a mirror check and selfie…and look what else happened after days & days of rain…the sky had changed at 7.45 a.m. to make it a sunny & dry day!

Arrived in plenty of time to notice a lot on the walk from the carpark to City Hall: green spaces, trees, and more…SUNshine gave everyone an extras spring in their step!

I loved attending Sydney Writers Festivals back in the years we lived in Sydney. They are a great chance to listen to the authors sharing THEIR stories about their books.

Newcastle Writers Festival in 2019 was a great occasion for me…and in fact, it was from hearing Jane Caro AM speak about Accidental Feminists (her non fiction book at that time) that I came up with the plan for the Women of Courage series. Here’s more about that.

And as a great fan of Trent Dalton and Rick Morton, it was awesome to meet Trent and catch up with Rick.

Then this happened…Covid. It stopped all events that were live so there was no Writers Festival (other than an on-line event) in 2020 and 2021.

But in 2022 It was BACK! With much fanfare, an amazing group of authors and for me, a ‘cheap’ way to be part of it when our NSW Discover Vouchers could help defray costs.

Where the arrow is pointing from is my grey head, as I am in the front row, and listening to (and loving) Trent’s talk with Rosemarie Milsom the Festival director. Debbie from Debs World was watching live from her lounge room and we tweeted a  bit too. Fun to connect!

I got to hear Kate McClymont speak about her journalist and author career looking into crime in our state of N.S.W. She has had death threats (!) and has spoken with many from the world of organised (and other) crime that is a part of our state’s history.

I listened to Jane Caro speak about her book The Mother, and another author too. They spoke of their writing processes and where some of their ideas had arisen. Sadly both topics within their words are pretty common these days.

I was tired (but happy!) after the events and took a drive over to the water to check out the big seas that had taken away walls from beaches and sand, along with stopping a surfing event.

Still, it was great to be there on a dry weather day, enjoy some of the sights, and to drive leisurely home via the old Pacific Hwy to our place at the northern end of the Central Coast.

It is still a bit strange to be getting out and about like this as the limitations of Covid (and lately, weather events that were dire) have made us hesitant. Maybe us? We are still part of a dwindling group of people wearing masks at the shops. We were asked to wear masks at Newcastle Writers Festival.

And by the way, there were many more author and writers I would have loved to heard but…time. I could only manage one day away from home. That’s life as a post oral cancer person. Some of the writers I missed included Helen Garner, Clementine Ford, Julia Baird, and more. Sadly my friend Rick wasn’t there…he told me he thought he was but no..bit busy as well with a new book out that he edited: Growing Up In the Country:  Australia.

I’m pleased to add that my interest in reading is refreshed now and I am actually browsing fiction as well as non-fiction books. I will more than likely have a post for the What’s On Your Bookshelf too.

I also hope to attend the Words on the Waves Writers Festival at the southern end of the Central Coast in early June. Waiting for the program to be released. It had its first year in 2021 and I missed that it even happened. Not this time, I am signed up for updates. Here is more info. 

Do you know the city of Newcastle?

Are you a “fan” of Writers Festivals?

Do you have a favourite author you would like to meet?

Let me know if you get a chance in the comments.

Denyse.

It’s the Monday before Easter & the weather seems fine for driving to Dee Why to see Dad, so that’s my plan.

I will catch up with you here later.

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