Friday 25th September 2020

Out & About: Head & Neck Charity Ball 12/51 #LifeThisWeek. 24/2020.

Out & About: Head & Neck Charity Ball 12/51 #LifeThisWeek. 24/2020.

Regular readers and followers know I was diagnosed with a head and neck cancer in May 2017. Posts are here.

Then, in 2018 I was invited to become a Community Ambassador for Beyond Five. More about that here.

In my role helping share awareness of head and neck cancer facts and more via social media, this blog and in person, I really find it satisfying to give back:

  • to offer my skills and experience as an educator
  • and to feel and stay connected with other patients and their families/carers with a head and neck cancer,
  • attending meetings on-line and off relating to head and neck cancer support
  • to be part of social network head and neck cancer groups
  • to assist professional teams including my professor, speciality nursing staff and allied health professionals by sharing my experience on-line and in person
  • a recent interview for a Beyond Five project on nutrition
  • and then this……

Attending The Head and Neck Charity Ball at Avoca Hosted by Four Amazing Junior Doctors on Saturday evening 7 March 2020.

 

Here is the post from Beyond Five: the organisation to benefit from all the fund raising from attendance and silent auctions:

Beyond Five

Last Saturday night Caitlin Frede, Grace Swain, James Shannon and Catherine Zil, a dedicated team of junior doctors working within Central Coast Health hosted a #HNC Charity Ball https://buff.ly/37Aiejn at the Avoca Surf House in NSW to help raise awareness of #HNC and funds to support Beyond Five.

Over 100 people attended including Caitlin’s family, who lost her father Peter Frede to #HNC in 2015, and healthcare professionals from the Central Coast Cancer Centre.

Caitlin shares the stark and moving story of her father here. Thank you Caitlin for sharing your perspective in this cancer which has cost your family the presence of a husband and father…and a wonderful human being….

Dinner guests listened to powerful speeches from Caitlyn and former patient, Central Coast resident and Beyond Five Community Ambassador, Denyse Whelan who talked about her treatment for #HNC. Dr Puma Sundaresan, Radiation Oncologist at Western Sydney Health and Beyond Five Director also spoke about the need to raise awareness of #HNC and the importance of early detection.

Thank you to everyone who supported this fabulous event, helping to raise over $4,000 for Beyond Five. We are incredibly grateful!

My social media recount of the evening. 

A glorious evening at Avoca beach hosted by a group of junior doctors currently working on Central Coast to raise funds for @beyondfiveorg

As a head and neck cancer patient I know information shared helped me.

This is why I am privileged to be a Community Ambassador for @beyondfiveorg

Tonight I shared part of my story with over hundred guests many of whom were in

health medical dental allied health fields.

My thoughts during and after this event.

  • How fortunate we were as a group to be able to come together as this preceded the coronavirus restrictions, even though at this time, everyone was become familiar with what would be our future without handshakes and hugs. I was so honoured to be asked to speak about my head and neck cancer experience and meeting with Caitlin for coffee as part of her planning I was even more impressed with her initiative of that of her colleagues. They are working on the NSW Central Coast as part of their medical training.

 

  • Lisa Shailer, pictured above, is the Head and Neck (and Lung) Cancer Nurse who oversees new and on-going patients at Central Coast Cancer Centre at Gosford Hospital. She, along withe some head and neck cancer patients, started the Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support Group. Lisa is the person who ‘found me’ via my article on-line with local MP Emma McBride and invited me to attend the inaugural Soup for the Soul event at Gosford in July 2018. Since then I have been an active member of the group, in my role as an Ambassador for Beyond Five.

 

  • Dr Puma Sundaresan and her husband attended the event and whilst Puma represented the board of Beyond Five, she was there for sentimental reasons as she was a radiation oncologist on the Central Coast before taking up her current roles in Sydney. She spoke about the fact that the rise of head and neck cancers in younger people is becoming greater and there is a connection with HPV. She outlined too, that the Central Coast has a high rate of head and neck cancer cases relating in many cases to smoking and drinking.

 

  • For me it was an evening where I felt privileged to be amongst people who cared about head and neck cancer and getting the messages out there. One person came up to me and told me she is a dentist in the practice where I attend and where, along with my dentist, I first was told we were looking for cancer. What is was we did not know, but I am very grateful she showed support as does her workplace.

 

The future is bright. 

Yes I said that! We are, at the time of writing, in a pandemic state thanks to coronavirus or COVID-19 of course. I know there are going to be more restrictions imposed on many of us soon, For some, travellers and others, some cannot even get home. But I know, with the air of care, professionalism, hope and generosity I witnessed on this evening with the focus on helping others with head and neck cancer support, we have excellent people in our health professions. These times ahead are going to test them. However, if they can remain true to themselves using the skills, talents and more I was privileged to witness the future will be bright.

Notes on the fundraising experience.

These next months are going to see no gatherings for meetings and fundraisers for any cause.

Head and Neck cancer charity Beyond Five usually hosts a Soup for the Soul Fundraiser in July.

Whilst we do not know what that month will bring for getting together we may assume, like the Head and Neck Patient and Family Forum now moved from June to October, there may be flexibility in fundraising.

Maybe like my last two years, a virtual Soup For the Soul!

Recent update from the Head and Neck Charity Ball is that $4.400 was deposited into Beyond Five’s account. Yay.

Lastly….

What a beautiful scene from this event place at Avoca Beach N.S.W.

Take time to notice nature is always calming…and for  many of us in uncertain times, this can help.

Go gently and stay well everyone.

Denyse.

Link Up #181.

Life This Week. Link Up #181.

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Next Week’s weekly optional prompt is: 13/51 . Chocolate.  30.3.2020.

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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.

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