Friday 30th October 2020

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

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

World Head and Neck Cancer Day is coming soon. On Monday 27.7.2020.

In this week leading up to the day, I am sharing more about head and neck cancer.

From Beyond Five, this information:

There is currently NO screening test for Head and Neck Cancer.

 

What Are Some of the Symptoms?

Here is a link to the page on Beyond Five to share more on symptoms.

*sore tongue, mouth ulcer(s), red or white patches in the mouth

*neck lump

*pain in the throat

*ear pain

*hoarse voice

*painful or difficulty in swallowing

*blocked nose on one side and/or bloody discharge

IF you have any ONE symptom for THREE weeks, seek medical advice.

 

How is head and neck cancer awareness and information shared?

In a world unaffected  by COVID-19, this coming week  would have been a time for gathering together for fundraising and awareness raising in our country, and nearby neighbours, New Zealand. Sadly, this is not possible in most cases.

Last year, we were able to do this to raise awareness at Central Coast Cancer Centre, Gosford Hospital.

We are moving toward the on-line spaces more, by necessity and now design and hope you can find some help, information and support there too.

On Sunday 26 July 2020, Beyond Five, where I am a Community Ambassador, is holding a Live Event. 1 p.m. AEST. The link to join in this great initiative is here. It’s one of teaching and sharing….soups and more and is hosted by fellow Ambassador Julie McCrossin AM, featuring these people, including South Australian HNC patient Yvonne McLaren and Founder of The Food Manifesto, to help others with eating issues following HNC and those with swallowing challenges. Check this out:

 

Why July is a strong memory for me.

July IS Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month.

I did not know that nor anything about head and neck cancer till my diagnosis in May 2017. My memories are S T R O N G each July as it reminds me of what happened inside my mouth, outside on my leg and then more.

Just to recap…I share my memories of going into surgery. 6th July 2017.

 

In ICU: where I stayed for 3 nights after surgery on 6 July 2017.

  • July is my “big month” of memories….of going into Chris O’Brien Lifehouse at 6.00 a.m. on Thursday 6.7.2017 with my husband and then having been checked & readied for surgery & meeting the wonderful anaesthetist Murray who reassured Bernard he would be in contact with him throughout the long day ahead….I got to say goodbye and was eventually wheeled to theatreS!
  • Oh, your surgery I was told, requires 2 theatres because there is a team of around 24 for your very complex & long surgery. Close to 7.30 a.m. by the time I got inside..but wait, there is more..
  • Whilst getting my mind around that, and the fact that when I woke (fingers 🤞) I would have had half of my mouth removed….I recall one of the team, actually I think it was Murray bringing in the corrected surgical procedure (originally it was to be remove fibula and skin/flesh from left, but blood supply was found after CT to be better in right) for me to sign. ✔️
  • Murray & his assistant were incredibly busy readying my body for the big surgery by placing monitors and more on me and tapping into 3 parts of me to lay tubes (I don’t know the terms) in left ankle, left & right arms/hands. Why? I had to ask. “Well, Denyse, is one spot fails or we need to move to another, we are ready, we don’t have to muck around in theatre”…

Now, I have but one memory to recall….as I was wheeled into theatre, I glanced to the left where there were teams of people dressed in scrubs & I admit I was searching for a familiar face….and there he was, my prosthodontist from Westmead, looked up and across at me. This man was the one who would, as the day progressed, use all his measurements and findings from my visits in May to “take my fibula after removal” and add abutments to it and ready it for placement inside my mouth.

Well. The memories ended for me.

  • I am told my surgery needed that many people because one team was the one operation on my right leg to harvest the bone, skin and flesh to go inside my mouth.
  • My professor led the team working inside my mouth, and entering the neck area for adding the blood supply from my leg’s flesh into my mouth to form the roof of it. All of my upper mouth was removed…even the last of my natural teeth up there…all 3!
  • There were samples from my neck taken and sent to pathology during the surgery. All were OK so “only” surgery was within mouth and under the lip.
  • My husband told me he was contacted as promised through the day. The day that saw my surgeons and team work for 11 hours to give me the best chance possible to eat, drink, smile and speak again.

By around 8.30 p.m. I was in I.C.U. as I had been told would happen. My body felt different. My left leg was in something that kept moving to ensure circulation & my right was Ok but encased in bandages and drains were coming from large wound area where skin had been harvested. I had an oxygen mask on, a nasogastric tube was inserted and I was pretty sore but not in huge amounts of pain. I barely used the pain pump and by the next day they said, we will take it away. Fine. However, I remained tired. But very pleased to NOT have a tracheostomy ( told it might happen) and could utter a few words. I also was put on a nebuliser for a long time and had oxygen in my nose. The nurses checked me often for drains & radiographer with a portable X-ray machine came in to see nasogastric tube was in ok.

That was my 6 July 2017.

Blogging my Head and Neck Cancer from diagnosis onwards to help me put in down and to help others too. On my blog- denysewhelan.com.au Here is the link to all the head and neck cancer posts.

July 2018– I was about 6 weeks away from have my upper prosthesis put in. Before then, I had 3 other day surgeries to give my mouth some bulk & ability to have the prosthesis attached to the jaw made from my leg. Those surgeries were Nov 2017, Feb 2018, May 2018. Joining local Central Coast HNC support group.

July 2019– Going well. Regular check ups have been good & there is no cancer…found anywhere. May 2019 check. Helping raise awareness of Head & Neck Cancer as an Ambassador for Beyond Five.

July 2020– Continuing to do well. Before Covid restrictions I saw my Prosthodontist in February who said my prosthesis care is excellent and saw my head and neck cancer surgeon in March who said “see you in 6 months”…with a CT scan beforehand to ensure all OK…still.

This is why July means a lot to me…and I share the story of my HNC because it might be rare but there is a need to notice symptoms of HNC and the onus can often be on us, the patient. Beyond Five’s regular updates and professionally reviewed and verified information is my go-to site and that is why I recommend it and work as a volunteer.

 

From Beyond Five’s Website.

“Who Are We?”

There are many people who are part of the organisation called Beyond Five. Professionals in the field are prevalent. The professor I refer to as ‘my surgeon’ is the chairman and one of the founders. With Professor Jonathan Clark AM.

Nadia Rosin. A communications and project management professional with over 20 years of experience in health promotion. Since 2016 I have had the privilege of working with a passionate team of Head and Neck Cancer clinicians, patients, family members and carers to launch Beyond Five, the first Australian not-for-profit to provide education and support to people affected by Head and Neck Cancer.

Experienced in strategic planning and communications, stakeholder engagement, fundraising, project and operational management. I am passionate about collaborating with key stakeholders to provide evidence-based information and support to patients, carers and health care professionals, raising awareness of Head and Neck Cancer in Australia and advocating for Head and Neck Cancer to form part of the public sector funding and health policy agenda.

Julie McCrossin is a broadcaster and journalist. In 2013 she was treated for oropharyngeal cancer and is now one of Australia’s leading head and neck cancer advocates. Julie is Beyond Five’s inaugural Ambassador. Her story was featured here as a Woman of Courage recently.

Denyse Whelan is a retired K-6 NSW School Principal and has also taught English as a Second Language. Denyse was treated in Sydney for squamous cancer in her top gums in 2017 and is passionate about sharing her ‘new normal’ to help others.

Marty Doyle worked for 36 years in the media as a radio announcer and TV presenter and is now a personal and executive coach. In 2004 he was treated in Brisbane for metastatic squamous cell carcinoma with cancer of unknown primary and has been a passionate advocate for head and neck cancer ever since.

Meeting Marty Doyle – at HNC support group.

Mike George had a total laryngectomy in 2017. Mike is well known to the laryngectomy community in Victoria and is passionate about securing Heat and Moisture Exchanger (HME) funding across Australia and educating emergency services and medical professionals about how to resuscitate a laryngectomee in an emergency.

Mike shares his story here.

May you all stay well.

Denyse.

Link Up #198.

Life This Week. Link Up #198.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next week’s optional prompt: Share Your Snaps #6. 27.7.2020.

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Self-Care Stories (#4) in COVID19 Times. 28/51 #LifeThisWeek. 56/2020.

Self-Care Stories (#4) in COVID19 Times.  28/51 #LifeThisWeek. 56/2020.

I went looking for my Self-Care Story #3 and found I did not write one! What?! No, it was because “I” decided to get another of my Telling My Story chapters published. So, even if I did not do #3, I am back to write what the latest is for me and self-care.

Self-Care: Regular Routines.

As many know, my routines post-head and neck cancer surgeries and treatments have been to help me re-connect with the world out there, socially and physically. This was something I began about 3 months post-operatively in 2017.

I was getting used to a different body. I had always hidden it as there was too much fat…my words. So, when anxiety and head and neck cancer helped me lose a lot of that fat, then I found C L O T H E S a very attractive way to spend my time…looking, trying on…and wearing.

It was a huge boost to my ego and generally to my health over all.

I coupled ‘getting dressed with purpose’ to going out for a daily coffee, where I would interact with others and despite no teeth on top for 14 months, I made friends where I went as I had conversations.

There is no way my reconstructed mouth was going to stop me talking!!

Then in 2020 Self-Care Got a Shock.

From around March, self-care the way I used to do this every day had to stop. The shock for me is that I wondered how I would deal with the restrictions that came with self-isolation, COVID-19 thank you not.

I was understanding cognitively what I had to do, like everyone else, and that was stay home most of the time and only go out for essentials. I remembered my shock as the first day of real change came because I went to my local shops for some groceries, and everything was being locked up, closed off, taped off….sad to see. Then I thought of all those people and their employment (sad) and of the people whose daily routine was to go to those shops and now they could not (sad again).

I also found, as time went on, that I needed to change my attitude and thinking about what was happening. Yes, we had a virus somewhere in the air that no-one could see or touch, and yes, it had to change the way we went about our daily lives. I recall that I got a shock/surprise at the restrictions placed upon us even to visit the chemist and the doctor. I needed time to process what was in fact, good safety measures.

Changing My Thinking During COVID19 Times Helps Self-Care.

So, over time, I built-in some new ways of integrating self-care for me with what we had and had not. These three quotes, source is in image, have probably best summed up how ‘life is now for me’.

 

Telling the Self-Care Stories in Images. March – June 2020.

How is your self-care these days?

Maybe you’d enjoy this 18 seconds…

Denyse.

Link Up #197.

Life This Week. Link Up #197.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next week’s optional prompt 29/51 Your Choice. Mine is: World Head & Neck Cancer Day. 20.7.2020

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My Go-To Easy Meal. 38/51#LifeThisWeek. 97/2019.

Celebration time…and I forgot!

Last week marked 3 years of this link up. Three years, on Mondays, for over 150 of them, you and I have connected and communicated here. Thank you all so very much! Onward into 2020 for sure. I “do” have some thinking to do to find the optional prompts but it’s part of what I love about our community sharing our posts, on or off prompts on Mondays! Denyse xx

 

My Go-To Easy Meal. 38/51#LifeThisWeek. 97/2019.

My go-to easy meal is: Toast.

OK, it’s cereal. Alright.

It’s neither for a ‘main meal’ which we have in the evening but there is still a bit of a chore even to decide on a meal isn’t there?

But first: we both eat well at Breakfast time:

His always includes my non-fave fruit. Mine often includes yoghurt, fruit and more.

Eating after mouth cancer and surgeries.

It is HARD even now, some 12+ months to eat anything like a real meal. Why? It’s about chewing ability (my mouth tires) and having the capacity to chew it well enough to swallow. I admit, I do love the look of some meals I see on others’ blogs and on-line but the truth is none of them are ones I can even countenance eating. In taking the time it does to eat even a small bowl of food, it often goes cold as I try to finish and that make it unappealing. But I am doing this eating thing MUCH better than before the upper prosthesis of teeth went in.

Meals made to go along with my husband’s limited capacity to eat.

His is based on stomach surgeries quite some time back and he has, at times, some swallowing troubles.

BUT…this is not a post about “How Old People Eat” per se but it may give insight into both our changing appetites and capacity to eat as we did back in our 20s to say 50s. And my Dad in his 90s, who as my Mum used to say “lived to eat, not eat to live” finds smaller meals the only ones he can manage.

Not actually go-to meals but actually go-to the freezer and take out a meal. Some of these meals USED to include rice bases and spaghetti too but for me, 14 months of eating those has required a re-think and I have done it. I will come back to some of those meals again, but not for a while.

I do batch cooking. That means less fuss everything and not having to think ‘what’s for dinner?’ It also means that each of us two has a choice of a meal that we feel like that night.

Mid-week we dine together on a freshly made meal and one that can be also eaten the next night.

What do our batch-cooked meals comprise?

At the moment:

  • Beef Casserole
  • Savoury Mince
  • Sausage and Veg Dish
  • Sweet & Sour Chicken
  • Vegetable Soup with Ham
  • Pumpkin and Carrot Soup.
  • Meat Pies: my savoury mince inside. KMart Piemaker is a good size. Not as big as Sunbeam.

Both of us need ‘easy to swallow meals’ hence all above have some kind of sauce or fluid.

Eggs.

Such a standby for many I know.

However, I can barely look at an egg that’s been poached (I scroll by everyone’s brunch/breakkie pics on IG) but I can, at times eat scrambled egg and a family heirloom dish called Egg and Cheese.

My Dad’s mum made this in 1930s and he passed it on. My daughter likes it too. In a pan, quickly add an egg and also some grated tasty cheese, with a fork keep the ingredients together (no egg white to be seen for me) and as it comes together in the pan, it will brown on the bottom making it very tasty. I can eat this on small pieces of buttered toast.

That’s the go-to-meals for me.

However, somewhere along the line “I” have to go-to the shops and buy the ingredients and bring them home. Neither of us can handle take-away foods anymore: portions and high fat. So what we eat, is in most cases, what I cook!

What’s your go-to meal(s) story?

Denyse.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s optional prompt is: 39/51 Spring Stories. 30/9/19

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Women Of Courage. #13. Alicia O’Brien. 86/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #13. Alicia O’Brien. 86/2019.

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

I have known Alicia who is 46, for many years thanks to ‘the old world of Australian blogging’ where I was first a reluctant entry into ‘link ups.’ This blogger friend has had a link up called Open Slather for years. It was on Mondays and now she has moved it to Friday. Do join in! Alicia impressed me from the beginning with her images: photos of her cooking and outdoors where she captures nature in her part of Australia so well. I welcome Alicia to share her story today, and love this image, captured by one of her young daughters! 

 

 

 

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

 

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometime courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’. – Mary Anne Radmacher

 

There have many times in my life I have had to call on my courage stores. Plenty of times come to mind when I hadn’t been courageous.

My earliest memory was crossing the rail lines to get to school in the morning. Scared the crap out of me. I may have been a cautious, anxious kid, because it used to frustrate the hell out of mum that I’d turn around and walk back home than to cross the lines.

When I talked to her about it, a true story of courage arose. That of my mum. Twenty four years old with five kids in a small country town, a working husband, no car. She’d walk me half way to school, torn, wanting to take me all the way, but four kids at home on their own. We as women are all courageous, in the way we are responsible for, we struggle and care for our loved ones.

Another time is when Mum asked me get out the car and herd the sheep from behind along the roadside. I would NOT get out of the car. My three-year-old sister did the deed. Gee did mum give me a serve about that. My little sister was the courageous one.

My biggest regret in not being courageous is when as a young mum, I stood in line at the checkout while an older man spewed racist hate at an Asian man who was holding up the line. I could not believe what was coming out of this man’s mouth. My regret was that I never stood forward and said something. No one did. I was angry that my daughters had to listen to such racist filth in this current age. I wish I had of been courageous enough to tell him to stop. Life teaches us many lessons and I will never ever hold back in the same situation again. The Asian man was the one who was courageous.

Most of my calls for courage, I guess anxiety and self-doubt have played a part. I have noticed that calling on my courage stores was easier when I was going through more confident stages of my life.

Meeting new people, taking the step of starting a new job, getting through tough things like my sons’ diagnosis of schizophrenia and the crap that was involved before and after that. It takes courage to keep pushing on in the face of uncertainty.

Even to this day, I must occasionally talk myself into making phone calls or walking into the school gates and be social! I know it’s easy and doesn’t take that much courage, but I let my brain convince me it’s a difficult task!

 

 

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

I am not sure if it has changed me in any way. I guess it’s made me more aware that I can get through things that maybe my brain was telling me were going to be hard. The funny thing is when it’s all over, it really isn’t that bad. It has given me the tools to face adversity the next time and made me realise I am capable and worthy of confidence in myself that I can do the hard stuff.

I feel I am more persistent and resilient in my approach to tasks.

I am often amazed at how well I cope in a crisis. My brain then seems to snap into survival mode, and I push through under pressure. My brain doesn’t have time to talk me out of it. This ability would come after some experience too. It’s the time after that I need a break to re-centre myself.

 

 

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

I learned that no matter how tough you think something is going to be, the courage to get through it is already inside of you. It is not something you have to make, it’s there. Don’t overthink the situation and only cross bridges once you come to them. In most situations, your brain can be your worst enemy, the key is to listen to the positive more often than you listen to your negative talk. Tell yourself, “I can do this!”.

 

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

The more I put myself out of my comfort zone, the more confident I become in facing life’s hurdles. The hurdles are bloody inconvenient, and I often question the universe if it thinks I’ve had my fair share already. They say practice makes perfect!

I am however aware that my problems are dwarfed by others, there are so many who are doing it way tougher than me and I am amazed at how courageous they are. They provide inspiration for me to draw on.

The courage of others always inspires me. I have learned that some of those courageous things are just everyday ordinary things and some life changing. Everyone is challenged by something, no matter how big or small.

 

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

The more steps you take everyday out of your comfort zone and facing your fears, the more able and confident you become in facing fears. Life is hard. I think having supportive people around you to help is important and not being afraid to accept that help. I think it is also helpful to have someone who knows what you’re going through at any time to talk to, so you don’t feel so alone in your struggles.

Oh wow. Lots of messages there for me to learn too. Thank you so much Alicia. I loved that we have been on-line friends for ages. Maybe one day we will actually meet!

Denyse.

Blog/Website: https://onemotherhen.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alleychook

Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/One-Mother-Hen-243699915749847/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aliciaonemotherhen/

 

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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