Thursday 13th May 2021

Telling My Story. Chapter 24. June 2018 – 2019. Part 2/2. 56/2021.

Telling My Story. Chapter 24. June 2018 – 2019. Part 2/2. 56/2021.

The backstory first:

FOUR years ago now ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at Chapter Twenty Four. Telling the story in two parts. Today is Part 2.

So, in keeping with my ethical approach to all things, I am making the chapters about MY recollections to various changes in life for me, and us, and life as we knew it. I hope I can continue sharing the story without any intentionally negative or hurtful references to others who are in my life as friends and family members. All of the stories to date found here.

And with this chapter, a recent photo…taken overlooking the harbour at Dobroyd near where I grew up close to Manly N.S.W.

Tah Dah! This Chapter’s 2nd Part IS the last….for now…and into 2021 of Telling My Story. Only took 4 years!! 

The overriding memory I have of this period in my life is change. Change for the good. Change in my outlook as I moved further away from cancer surgeries and recoveries towards L I F E as I wanted to have lived it in retirement but far too many things were in the way. The series year of 2015 and 2015 tell more.

So, as best as I can, this rounding up of Part 2, thus ending my publication is going to have more photos and memories along with, fewer words.

Are you ready to come along?

Early April 2019.

As my confidence shot up and I was prepared  drive to places and see things I wanted to see and experience, Newcastle Writers Festival headed the list. A conversation (longish on twitter) with author Trent Dalton ended up with me LOVING Boy Swallows Universe and he would be there on the Sunday I was. However, I had booked to hear my long time friend & author Rick Morton speak on his first book One Hundred Years of Dirt and have a catch up if I could. I met my blogging friend Lisa for early/late lunch and we went to Rick’s session. I had also booked to see Jane Caro speak on her ground  breaking book Accidental Feminists which I had devoured. I hadn’t see Jane in real life but we were well known to each other from social media.

What a day!

The upshot.

This.

But wait there was more…I was stoked for this resurgence of my social life. Admittedly I was very tired and it was a challenge to find something to eat because of my mouth…but I was out there again. Yay. I also needed more than ever to calm and find peace within and I turned always to my art desk to find or create a new project.

Late April, Mother’s Day and into  May.

During the April school holidays, which coincided with Easter and one granddaughter’s birthday, so we entertained with great delight..always love seeing our family.

My daughter and I met at Berkelouw’s for Mother’s Day brunch morning tea and we rarely get ‘two of is catch ups. So that was awesome. My 2 year anniversary of head and neck cancer diagnosis was coming and my husband and I celebrated at one of our favourite places for morning tea. Then he said “time for your apple watch isn’t it?” YES. Please. Thank you. I had just joined a moving/walking challenge with the Department of Education so that was going to motivate me too.

About An Idea: Women of Courage.

Having read Jane’s book (listened via Audible too) and then seeing her interviewed about the findings and that women, are/were in general and in life, doing so much unsaid, unpaid work that it was women who suffered more in latter years because of separation/divorce settlements all favouring men. Her concern which is serious and major, and verified over time is that women, in Australia, over 55 are becoming the highest number and fastest growing cohort of the homeless.

Now, whilst I would like to have fixed all the issues Jane raised, and of course I could not, I did have this idea. It seemed to me that we women might feel empowered somewhat if there was a way to share some of our stories…as I saw them, of courage. That was it.

Women of Courage.

I knew many of there people, but would they be prepared to share something about themselves along this line. I set no targets, I asked politely, and received no for an answer with respect. I kept a list of those I approached on line with my proposal and by the time my launch time arrived I was ready with a great set of responses.

The first post, was mine, via introduction, and then it was time for Sam to share her story,

Ready steady….Women of Courage

In the weeks, then months that followed I pressed publish on  24 personally named posts and  one anonymous post in 2019.

I decided to stop sharing before December as I knew there would be fewer readers and then was ready to kick off again with Jane’s post

and onto 25 from named sources and 4 anonymous ones until it closed as series in September 2020.

This year, I am re-launching soon. 2021 series. From mid May…I like that time of year! Here is where all of the Women of Courage posts are.

June, July, August…..2019.

  • I can remember we had visitors for school holidays, my husband was unwell for some weeks with the flu even though the diagnosis took a while, I continued with my trips back and forth to Sydney to see the Prosthodontist less regularly but still needing reassurance and care…

 

  • I drove to Sydney in June and stayed overnight to see Vivid Light Festival from the harbour and to go to an event to celebrate the great work of the late Professor Chris O’Brien at the cancer care centre named for him. It was on this occasion I realised how hard it is for a post-surgery me to find food to eat unless I bring my own. I still grapple with this today.

 

  • I also made a quick trip to near where we used to live after a Westmead appointment and had an impromptu catch up with my daughter and granddaughter and a ride on the new-t0-me light rail.

 

  • I did quite a bit of cooking – as usual – because I need to cook for my needs. I also joined in the Soup for Soul Fundraising for then Beyond Five with my local Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer group with batches of small cupcakes. We did not know of course, that Covid, the following year would shut down all such gatherings, even restricting visitors to hospital to one for a patient or even no-one could accompany an adult.
  • I met with my local federal M.P. Emma McBride to get her support for World Head and Neck Cancer Day on 27 July. That is the date for it world-wide. I also shared more each week leading up to the date via my blog and social media in my role as an Ambassador.

Braver and braver and being prepared to say YES first rather than no continued to increase my ability to not only do hard things but to see them as small accomplishments building upon each other which is at the heart of exposure therapy.

Some Highlights: June to November 2019.

  1. Staying solo overnight in Sydney: to attend Vivid and then a conference the next day just as a supporter
  2. Driving to Hunter Valley Gardens to view what I had read much about
  3. Deciding that I really wanted to celebrate being 70 later in the year
  4. Getting great cancer checks with all GOOD news and not being as fearful of cancer’s return
  5. Becoming more interested in sharing what I could with the wider community: resources I made to The Big Hug Box and to Arterie at Lifehouse but also stopping when it became a little more of an overload
  6. Planning that I would like to invite blogging and social media friends to a morning tea to for me…turning 70 and being vulnerable enough to send invitations…Everyone actually said YES but on the day for a range of reasons sadly 3 could not come.
  7. Dealing with disappointment in a less personal way.
  8. Learning that living with I.B.S. and some incontinence might be a package* that came with ageing…and making allowances for myself with that. *In May – August 2020 I found a solution via surgery I was too scared to ponder in 2019 and I am well.

On Turning 70. 

Before my 70th Birthday, I drove to my granddaughter’s school (and daughter’s school)  to attend their Open Day. Loved celebrating gratitude for my life here:

  • Rather than dreading another zero birthday I celebrated with gratitude.
  • I visited my father a few days after my birthday to have cake and coffee with him and my brother
  • My actual birthday was the Saturday when our family came for lunch. Our daughter and her adult offspring, one with partner and her youngster and our son with his four.
  • My husband and I did the catering and our daughter made a cake.
  • It truly was a celebration of LIFE and to have this with those who loved me (vice versa) made it so special
  • A few days before I met with my social media/blogging friends too.
  • I received, unexpectedly, cards, flowers and kind gifts.

Loved this big surprise.

Lovely portraits of our 8 grandkids

 

Christmas 2019 Was Different.

After the loveliness of my birthday I was well-satisfied but getting more brave in my continued intentions to push myself further. This was when I agreed that we (husband and I) would drive to Sydney on Christmas Day – something I had always vowed would be too stressful) and enjoy a family lunch. Our son said to drop in on the way down as he would have his kids on Christmas morning. All good.

Unfortunately to his disappointment most of all, my husband had over-exerted himself the day before finishing off some outdoor work and was exhausted and completely unwell so I made the trip solo.

I remained determined to do this though on behalf of us both and to see the family. I even managed to  eat some Christmas lunch. Yay for being careful but also being adventurous.

Onward into 2020 with Gratitude.

I accepted this would be word for 2020.

I had already done a 30 days of gratitude challenge leading to my 70th Birthday.

I knew finding something to be grateful for each day was a good thing to do for my health.

Of course I did not know ahead of this just how much challenge 2020 would bring!

 

I actually blogged 2020 in 3 parts last year  for Telling My Story because I wanted to remember it well.

Here is the link to each post.

Part One 2020

Part Two 2020

Part Three 2020

Thank you for following my story. See how my avatar has changed in that time.

 

This is the ‘last one’ for quite some time.

The weekend before this post went live, I finally had all the printed copies of each post put in order, in two folders. They are evidence of My Life…as told via Telling My Story 1949 —-> and even if no-one else other than The Author reads them, I am so glad to have persisted!
They are located in the bookshelf along with other life records: my career in education, my cancer story and updates and family tree info.

Warm wishes,

Denyse.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

 

 

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Telling My Story. Chapter 24. June 2018-2019. Pt 1/2. 52/2021.

Telling My Story. Chapter 24. June 2018-2019. Pt 1/2. 52/2021.

The backstory first:

FOUR years ago now ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at Chapter Twenty Four. Telling the story in two parts. Today is Part 1.

So, in keeping with my ethical approach to all things, I am making the chapters about MY recollections to various changes in life for me, and us, and life as we knew it. I hope I can continue sharing the story without any intentionally negative or hurtful references to others who are in my life as friends and family members. All of the stories to date found here.

And with this chapter, a recent photo…taken overlooking the harbour at Dobroyd near where I grew up close to Manly N.S.W.

THIS post is the second last in the series. Part Two is in a week’s time. Thank you to all who have been reading and commenting on my recent posts about my life since head and neck cancer. I appreciate each and every one of you and your kindness. It helps me understand my need for connection and blogging does that for me. Warmest wishes to you all. Denyse.

 

June into July 2018.

About my mouth.

This is the month after what I hoped would be the final reconstructive surgery…(still is)….and it was winter, busy and I spent even more time, alone (happily) in my red car, driving BACK and FORTH to Westmead Oral Sciences…because…. T E E T H!

Obviously healing has to take place, and the work of this next stent, the one to push my top lip out more needed lots of T I M E.

You know, that thing you have to be P A T I E N T about when you are one!

During the visits to the prosthodontist, which could vary in time ‘in the chair’ from 2 to 4 hours, I listened to audio books at the boring times of having 2 lots of hands in my mouth…and used to ‘fiddle with’ my bracelets, or even a small crystal. I was not ever nervous but my boredom could lead to anxiety and so it was best I used strategies of distraction and relaxation. I was always very tired after my day spent at Westmead and soon learned to give myself a day off afterwards.

Nevertheless, I knew that my prosthodontist was working at all he could to get my new upper prosthesis prepared for when my mouth was.

Daily Routine Helped.

As I had started with photo taking in late 2017 for a daily outfit shot, and then going somewhere for coffee, this became a given as part of my routine to see me dress well, and engage with the wider world outside home. I still do this, no longer with daily photos but it is embedded in my self-care strategies.

Life went on.

In between times, I did not sit around.

Actually I do not doing sitting around very well.

I still had my daily routine of an outfit photo and usually went out for coffee. I went to view nature and I became increasingly interested in helping with spreading the word of head and neck cancer. I also found The Big Hug Box and offered to make bookmarks and loved using my art for good. I ventured an idea to the local library – can’t recall which month but it was with a view to me running a mindful mandala making course.

I even put a ‘how to’ on the blog. Teacher me was re-emerging.

School Holidays. Visitors. 

It was a treat to see our grandchildren when their parents could arrange a visit and on one occasion we had a late birthday celebration. I made sure I had some art and craft for the four of them to do and we spent a very pleasant day in the winter sunshine.

I continued to be out and taking photos and it was good for me to re-visit places where I held special memories of seeking solace and comfort.

 

Head and Neck Cancer: Sharing The News.

As I was someone who had no idea of this rare cancer when diagnosed, I wanted to make others aware, but I also know my Professor Jonathan Clark and others had begun Beyond Five to do just that. Finally, as July approached and with it, World Head and Neck Cancer Day on 27 July I swung into action. Beyond Five sent me some ribbons and brochures and I made contact with my local federal M.P. Emma McBride and she visited us at home to find out more. Emma remains interested in sharing. I also approached our doctors and dentist with a view to sharing my “wellness” and asking them to display information. It seemed like I wanted to give back.

I did.

Thank You: No Words Are Enough.

 In the year since I had been diagnosed, after my dentist has removed the bridge in April 2017, and I had the biopsy done by the oral surgeon in May 2017, I really wanted to share with them how I was. So, I did. In two personal visits. I have done this once more to the Oral Surgeon’s since and of course I see my Dentist each 6 months.

World Head and Neck Cancer Day and Meeting The Central Coast HNC Support Group.

My M.P. had written an article about me and head and neck cancer and it was within days of that, I was contacted by Lisa Shailer, from Central Coast Cancer Centre, who looks after newly diagnosed head and neck cancer patients. She invited me to the first Soup for the Soul event at Gosford hospital’s Cancer Centre and that was where my involvement with the local group commenced. It was also the first time I had met anyone else with a head and neck cancer.

August 2018. How LONG?

On 6th August, as my patience was really, really wearing thin …to get this upper prosthesis, I celebrated our daughter’s birthday with a S M I L E.…and the race for this to be ready and in my mouth began. I was so over it. I thought this would be such a change for me when it happened, I even made up a list of what crunchy foods I would try again. (Dear reader…it was not how she thought it would be)

After more trips up and down the M1, I sensed that 21 August was to be THE day and dressed up  a little bit more. It was. The day. It felt weird and good.

I smiled for a LOOOOONNNNNGGGG time.

First time I smiled….

 

After an adjustment from my prosthodontist.

September into October 2018.

I Could Not Stop SMILING.

Even though I had “teeth” screwed into my upper jaw in August, there were still quite a lot of adjustments to be made to the prosthesis by my prosthodontist at Westmead so that meant more trips to him. He was also making a bottom partial denture of a molar on each side, to clip onto my remaining 8 natural teeth to have better biting and chewing.

I sent a photo of me to my head and neck surgeon and he was amazed at the outcome too. So cool. I had my check up and he was so happy for me as were the other people who were part of my surgeries and healing times. I met with Nadia, CEO of Beyond Five as a potential Ambassador, and on the same day said hello and thank you to Gail O’Brien, wife of the late Professor Chris O’Brien, for her husband’s vision for his one-stop Cancer Care Centre, Lifehouse.

What it was not.

No way does it replicate my own teeth. However, I took some time to get used to that as well as speaking because my mouth was now more full of ‘hardware’. Eating was tricky – and still can be – as different foods required more chewing than expected and others were just too sharp or crusty for me to be able to manage. I also found (and find) I need something slippery to help the food go down.

BUT I had my SMILE back. And that was so good.

I was invited to share my story  at the Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support Group and used my long lost power point and Uni tutor skills to do so. It was well-received.

I visited family with greater confidence. Trips to Sydney were ones where I once only had emotional capacity to deal with the treatments but now I was getting more brave and doing hard things.

I met people for a long awaited catch up. I saw Dad more. I visited places where I had grown up. It was GOOD to be out and about and not all about head and neck cancer. I went to a Look Good Feel Good self care workshop but was a little disappointed that its relevance to me was little. Understandably my cancer it rare, but the 90% effort on the day was placed with those with hair loss from chemo and in general were for breast cancer survivors. I appreciate that my cancer is not visible either.

November into December 2018.

Invited to become an Ambassador for then Beyond Five, now Head and Neck Cancer Australia. This was a huge honour and so good to know I could be helpful using my education background and my personal experience of being a head and neck cancer patient. I met with the CEO, Nadia and Inaugural Ambassador Julie McCrossin at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

Back to schools!

I was invited to my granddaughter’s grandparents’ day and I went. I would not have envisaged doing this in the previous few years but handling my head and neck cancer recovery encourage me to use my new skills of confidence and greater resilience. It was great. I loved being back in a school. Then I visited my daughter at her school. Very proud to see the library she started from Day One of that new school.

Because of a blunder made in 2003 on my Service Medal, by the NSW Dept of Education at my retirement (when I had to due to work place issues and no chance for medical retirement) I tweeted about it once and my principal friend John Goh noticed and he retweeted it and the NSW Dept of Education Deputy Secretary saw it, and emailed me “we can fix this Denyse”….and the story of that is told here. So good to have my career recognised properly for me.

We hosted Christmas.

We had not had our family gather with us for Christmas for quite some years. Then for 2018 our daughter and her kids suggested coming to our place as they were mid house move. Again, bravely, I said YES and we were delighted to do so. I also had another Santa photo taken and when asked what did I want for Christmas I said “I already have it, I am cancer free and well.”

What Would 2019 Bring?

January 2019.

Birthdays!

Always birthdays first…my Dad…95

Then our son 40

And our grandson 18.

I didn’t see Dad on the day but had photos sent. Our son and his four kids came for a lunch and we made sure there was cake and candles. Our daughter had an 18th Birthday family lunch for her boy at her new place and we were delighted to attend.

We had not driven down the way – north western Sydney – since we last lived there and the changes are extreme. Former paddocks and dairy farms are cheek by jowl housing and that is the way these days I guess. Also is a reason traffic wise, why my husband was glad to be out of Sydney.

February 2019.

Busy month to begin with the first meeting in 2019 for Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support Group where M.P. Liesl Tesch, former Paralympian addressed us, sharing her story.

I continued to have check ups at Westmead for my mouth. In January of 2019 the upper prosthesis was removed – it is attached by 5 abutments (tiny screws) that are in my reconstructed jaw, for minor adjustments. As you may imagine, it is a challenge for something to fit well (and perfectly) so it meant trips to Westmead for this. As time went on though, my physical care of the prosthesis with waterpik and micro brushes – getting debris away from the abutments and gums, it has not needed removal since then. In fact, I can barely believe how well I have been able to maintain this because it’s something quite new.

I also found out, that the pain I often have in various parts of my mouth inside is all part of the body getting used to what is in there. After all, it’s got my leg bits inside. My team and being published as a story on Beyond Five.

My husband turned 70. He is the original no fuss man. However, we had hoped for a small family lunch. His body has different plans and we could not go ahead as he was unwell. Nevertheless he received family love and best wishes and we caught up with family later.

A wee tribute to him…..HE got me through so many of those really hard days early in my diagnosis. His counselling skills were very much needed along with the loving and caring man he is. The night before my surgery on 6 July 2017, it was him sorting out where he would stay rather than the awful (for us) place where we had been recommended that helped calm me as I was concerned about his welfare while I was ‘unaware’ in I.C.U. Then when he visited me from home on the Central Coast, his very presence on the balcony of my room was so reassuring….love him, lots.

March into April 2019. 

Re-reading this post as I go, I am aware that it sounds like I was on the go, doing, doing and recovering and doing even more. In some ways I was. It felt SO good to be getting better after almost 2 years. It was though one of those situations with me where I.B.S. would return when I was feeling particularly stressed. And that its pattern would be more likely after any stress event. Even the good ones. I had to learn to pace myself better.

I had to learn to add in time outside.

In nature.

Taking walks.

Being a fun photographer…and then also using my creative senses to enjoy art of some kind to fill my visual and kinaesthetic senses.

Remembering my late Mum’s death anniversary here.

Learning where to STOP..is here. Next time, will be Part Two: April – December 2019.

Reality of my reconstructed mouth….

And in the next part of Chapter 24, “this” concept changes into a plan for a blog series.

Thank you so much if you made it this far.

I appreciate that!

Denyse.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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Joyful. 17/51. #LifeThisWeek. 51/2021.

Joyful. 17/51. #LifeThisWeek. 51/2021.

The last Aussie-based link up is HERE!

I started this 5 years ago this coming September picking up Mondays when my friend Kirsty stopped blogging. There was a link up on Wednesdays until last year with Sue and Leanne called MidLife Share The Love and one on Thursdays for a long time called Lovin Life with Leanne.

Now, it’s me. This one. I remain committed to keeping the link up happening FOR sure until the end of 2021. After all, I have done the 51 optional prompts!

But for me this link up is MORE than a place for bloggers to share their posts. It’s a space for connecting with others. The one reason I began blogging in late 2010 was the same. So, I appreciate you:

who link up, and

those who also read,

and comment because that  is the way to connect.

The link up is not too much hard work at all for me. I thrive on it. I am hopeful that bloggers from Australia, the U.S.A. and Canada along with further flung places will continue to find a place which care about them, their posts and how they are going.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Thank you all. Denyse.

Today’s post is about fewer words and more photos.

It’s the date of my late grandmother’s birthday. She was a war bride  from World War 1, leaving her home in England to sail to Australia to marry her Andy. My Dad’s dad. It’s a sad tale. I have shared it here. However I like to think she was joyful in her early years of love for him and their first two children. Pity I cannot find the image. In the meantime, maybe she was a little bit joyful at my Christening in 1950.

Off to see Dad at Dee Why today, so will be commenting later when I am home

Gran is on the left

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

So pleased I have my smile back and it’s a joy to help others.

I believe as I am ageing, now 71, that I take more time to notice what makes me feel joyful. Sometimes I do not seek it, but there it is and I will say WOW. Julia Baird’s book Phosphoresence talks of finding moments of awe and wonder. I see these for me as joyful moments too. I remember them and I smile as I recall.

The look of joy on my face on receiving this amazing gift for my 70th

I cannot ever forget the joy I felt when I saw the image I captured….

This too is what I see when I am out: joy in nature, shapes, colours and more.

I was very joyful to get my smile back on 21 August 2018 after my cancer surgeries and reconstruction. I never take that joyful feeling for granted.

The Before and After of “Teeth Day” 21 Aug

I am also joyful that the Women of Courage series is making a comeback with some very interested & interesting women volunteering to share their stories. If you did not get a chance to do that in 2019 and 2020, let me know in the comments and I will share the information with you.

And the man who tells me his life is filled with one joyful moment after another…this is why he is my hero and star. He has taught me all I need to know about living in the moment. I call him my husband.

The man who said “Smile” is your word

Where do you find joy?

What or who makes you feel joyful?

Denyse.

Link Up #237

Life This Week. Link Up #237

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: Taking Stock. #2 3 May 2021.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


 

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Telling My Story. Chapter 23. 17 May 2017- May 2018. Part 2/2. 49/2021.

Telling My Story. Chapter 23. 17 May 2017- May 2018. Part 2/2. 49/2021.

Dear Readers, thank you for reading my posts. Bloggers who are also readers and link up Mondays, thank you too. Always appreciate you doing this. Nearly 4 years ago, this project of mine started actually getting posts done. It took some time. I wasn’t sure how to do this but eventually found a rhythm. Now, I am relieved and delighted to be finishing the series …..until of course I have to do posts for 2021. But they can wait. These posts here as part of Telling My Story are forming a memoir. I have each post printed and in a folder (thanks teacher me). If you find these overly long I get that. But without me telling the details, I would have lost just how this particular time in my life was.

So, I am saying, should you find it too wordy, stick with the photos…and look at the captions if that is the case….and thanks again. Only “two more” to come: Tuesday 27 April and Thursday 6 May.

You are awesome. All of you…sticking with me! Denyse.

The backstory first:

Almost FOUR years ago now ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at Chapter Twenty Three & It’s One Post.  Two Parts. Part One is here.

So, in keeping with my ethical approach to all things, I am making the chapters about MY recollections to various changes in life for me, and us, and life as we knew it. I hope I can continue sharing the story without any intentionally negative or hurtful references to others who are in my life as friends and family members. All of the stories to date found here.

And with this chapter, another photo…taken this year overlooking the harbour at Dobroyd near where I grew up close to Manly N.S.W.

Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Three. Part Two of Two. May 2017 – May 2018.

Why I thought I could  tell this part of my story in just one post it’s not possible….

There was more I wanted to add to Telling My Story even though I posted a great deal about the topics contained within this post I am adding links back to those posts as I see applicable.

December 2017.

Always a month of some excitement and anticipation, this one was as well but with added events. Our eldest granddaughter was having her 21st Birthday as a family & friends picnic lunch in a lovely park and I was determined to attend. It would be my first big function for at least 2-3 years.

But before that, there was a trip back to my surgeon for another check post the 2nd surgery in November, and more. I finished my teaching connections(already had in reality) with end of membership of N.S.W. Teachers Federation.

Our daughter graduated from her Master of Education course at CSU and attended with her offspring and wore the same cloak I did for my Masters of Education.

I visited my father before Christmas to catch up and knowing me, left him some frozen meals and treats.

I became more creative with my eating…remember no upper teeth and just 8 on the bottom…but see the summer lunch picture, I could get it all down over time. The secret still for me (and many with head and neck cancer) is to have slippery, wet items to help foods mix better to swallow and to have water on hand.

Dressing with purpose each day continued and gave me a focus on looking good and feeling better within myself. I always went somewhere for a coffee. Sometimes I had something to eat that I could manage in tiny pieces. Two of these cafes I still visit now and they were so kind to me back then.

Going Out Each Day Was (still is!) So Important.

Finishing 2017 and Welcoming 2018.

We had a quiet Christmas but we had visits from family. Very grateful. My husband had to take quite a few photos of the inside of my mouth to share via email with my surgeon over the January break. He was great and it was reassuring. You see, I had no idea really of how these surgeries would work out for me. I trusted my professional teams. I knew I had a 3rd surgery in early February but there was always more happening than my recovery!

February Surgery. March Recovery. 

I would love to write how this time went so well and with no problems but it did not. Even though we had planned it would. This pre-surgery time, we came down the day before, and my husband went to help our daughter at her place and I enjoyed re-visiting Sydney. I missed much of the sights and was determined to enjoy what I could. However, Sydney was changed. Like me. Streets were torn up for light rail. Sigh. Anyway for distraction’s sake I did this:

Before I knew it we (husband my ever present companion) were walking up Missenden Road Camperdown from our accommodation, to take me to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for reconstructive surgery #3.

Yes, I did have foam holding those stitches inside my nose down to my flap which was inside my mouth. It was awkward, and I had to wait a while for them to come out. But I still managed coffee. AND I went out.

Back to Sydney for removal of stitches, check of the stent (it’s a clear mouth guard screwed into the abutments in my jaw created by the fibula) and then orders to continue to see my prosthodontist for check. Honestly it was pretty horrible and stinky for me wearing that stent but it was all for the good. To stretch out my man-made lip (well, woman made really from my own (leg)skin.

Time for my first photo request of my surgeon and his clinical nurse. So grateful for them. They also got cakes..of course they did (and still do)

But wait, we also needed to move house. At Gorokan where we rented since November 2015, the owners wanted to return. OK. That meant we had to find another place. Our rental agency was so good (still is) and found us a somewhat more expensive house but also more comfortable but it also meant…packing up and moving again, and this was planned for by early days of April.

One Step Forward. Four Steps Back.

My prosthodontist team at Westmead was now seeing me every week or so and checking on the stent, taking it out, cleaning it and returning it. It was no pleasant and my husband was a very kind and compassionate driver and carer. But I was elated in late February when these two men reckoned the healing was fine and the stent could be removed. WOW.

For about a day or so.

 

You see, my skin in the space that was being created did not want to stay where it was supposed to and it jumped right back meaning…sadly not only did the stent have to go back in BUT I would, even though it was no confirmed till May, have to have a 4th reconstructive surgery. My anxiety and I.B.S. worries were high. Surgery likely, house move and just dealing with travel and my inner expectations. On March 1 I had what I would call something like a panic attack but it was caused by high levels of gut spasming because I had taken too many ibubrufen in my fear of having an episode of diarrhoea. Eventually I settled enough for my team to work inside my mouth, and then we came home.

After that, my self-confidence had to grow and I began doing my own trips back and forth to Westmead.

And in March 2018, this Telling My Story Chapter Two was published here.

March into April 2018.

House needed packing up.

My husband did a great deal of boxing up items. Very efficient. Then we realised in the new house we needed more details of contents rather than room destination.

I continued with regular visits back and forth to Westmead. Sometimes these were up to 4 hours in the chair. The prosthodontist needed to do a lot of measuring and checking since we both knew a fourth surgery would be happening and this one needed to be right.

I sure had my patience tested but I was always in the kindest and gentlest of hands and could call a break from the chair when I needed it. My emotional levels went up and down a bit as I was always waiting to know if something wasn’t going well. I sought constant reassurance and by speaking up about that need frankly my prosthodontist understood and was very generous with my maintenance of my mouth. Three years on, he still is. I am going well. But where were we?

Moving.

As I compiled this post, I sit here happily in this same rental property which we have just re-leased until April 2022. It is in a lovely neighbourhood, lots of shops nearby and only 20 minutes to the beach and 10 minutes to the M1 back to Sydney. Our medical services are here and at over 70 now, we appreciate that very much.

What May 2018 Brought.

A visit to my head and neck surgeon who confirmed there would be a fourth surgery and that this time the stent would stay on for months not week. I will admit I was a bit teary (and angry) on the way home as it felt like all that February’s work was undone. However…I got over myself. I always do.

How Did I Manage My Emotional Health?

I became better over time I guess but anxiety about “does this mean cancer is back” for any type of symptom or little thing going wrong in my mouth was always present. Yet, I would seek reassurance and move on. My G.P. was/is terrific at that. And I continued to take the anti-depressant.

Our family was in some ways changing and growing away from us as they edged to adulthood, and family settings changed. We usually got a visit to our place once each school holidays.

I became a meditator via Calm after finishing with Headspace as my paid app, and this continues to be my preferred meditation to this day.

With some distraction therapy i.e. my art was/is a great way to be mindful about just one thing.

My blog. Always. It was and continues to be a great way to remember the world is not just about my cancer recovery…

Being sociable on line. In fact I was already that way but my interests grew and this was about when I took more interest in becoming involved with giving back to those who help others.

I follow Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and over time in 2018 they wrote part of my story on their website.

Beyond Five – as Head and Neck Cancer Australia is now known – was an account I not only followed but in 2018 felt that I could perhaps make a contribution someway in terms of education. That site also has my original story.

In the next Telling My Story, I will share more about my reach out to politicians and about joining head and neck cancer groups but for now…I was focussed on ONE thing…

the May Surgery

Off we went to Sydney, repeating the place to stay and then we both did the visiting Sydney as tourist again. A return Ferry trip to the Zoo is brilliant to see the Harbour at its best.

The next morning, up at 5.45 a.m. for the silent walk in the dark turning to light to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse knowing I would be first again. How much do I love my surgeon who can do that for me. Up to day surgery, off with the day clothes, on with the gowns, husband farewelled back to Unit where we stayed and then…after a brief chat to some of my team in the anaesthetic bay, I remember getting onto the table for this one…and then…not much till I was up and dressed in recovery. And the big shock I got when I looked in the mirror.

How Did The Rest Of May Proceed?

I already knew what recovery looked and felt like. Yes, it was/is painful and yes I had to adapt again to eating differently but I also got a bit ambitious. You see, I had my second skin graft taken from my thigh and it was packed with special seaweed dressing and firmly bandaged (this was a repeat of what happened at November 2017 surgery) and I knew that in 2 weeks I would have a bath and it would soak off.

Until I decided to do some driving..to Sydney to see my Dad and to Gosford to get some cakes from Kyla and I felt something wet and sticky down my leg one evening not even a week post surgery. I admit I panic. But I also have a calm husband, an iphone and a direct line to my HNC nurse. Cate was reassuring, bandage it up a bit more, see how it goes. Nope. No good. I was teary. However, she in her professional way, showed Jonathan the pics and he said, in the bath now. Take it off over time. My husband had bandages and coverings from my 2017 leg wound recovery and that is what we did. Phew.

But still, things were a little more tricky/worrying when on last days in May, I woke feeling something  hard coming through the top of my lip. YIKES. I texted my surgeon. Not something I did lightly and within a few minutes, he rang. He told me it was an area he had put a small stitch in and hoped it would stay. The hard thing I could feel was the stent, not as I initially thought the ‘jaw’ and he said he would let my prosthodontist know and he would get back to me.

He did. I went to Sydney that day and was somewhat reassured that I could watch it, apply some anti biotic cream I think, and the prosthodontist said maybe another surgery (!) or it might close up by itself. Over time it did. Phew. Skin! Very grateful it grew.

Oh gosh. What’s next?

June 2018 into 2019 that’s what!

Thank you for sticking with my story. It’s been a good way to remember how far I have come, and I have greater appreciation for my courage and fortitude at the time even more, three years after this happened.

Denyse.

Linking up here with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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#LifeThisWeek. 16/51. Telling My Story. Ch. 23. 17 May 2017 – May 2018. Part 1/2. 48/2021.

#LifeThisWeek. 16/51. Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Three. 17 May 2017 – May 2018. 48/2021.

The backstory first:

Almost FOUR years ago now ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at Chapter Twenty Three & It’s One Post.  Two Parts. 

So, in keeping with my ethical approach to all things, I am making the chapters about MY recollections to various changes in life for me, and us, and life as we knew it. I hope I can continue sharing the story without any intentionally negative or hurtful references to others who are in my life as friends and family members. All of the stories to date found here.

And with this chapter, another photo…taken this year overlooking the harbour at Dobroyd near where I grew up close to Manly N.S.W.

Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Three. Part One of Two. 17 May 2017 – May 2018.

Why I thought I could  tell this part of my story in just one post it’s not possible….

There was more I wanted to add to Telling My Story even though I posted a great deal about the topics contained within this post I am adding links back to those posts as I see applicable.

Last time, I ended with these sentences:

And that is where this Chapter ends.

If you have guessed where it’s going, then you are probably right.

Wednesday 17th May 2017. The Day.

I was quite relieved after the harrowing processes explained in the last Telling My Story.

On the morning of Wednesday 17th May 2017, my husband drove to his lifeline counselling volunteer role and I sat finishing off a late breakfast when my phone rang. As soon as it did, and I knew the voice, I sensed the words that would change my life:

Denyse, you have squamous cell carcinoma in those gums. Late last night the lab rang me and I left it till today to let you know. I am so sorry.

There was a part of me that was sad and shocked but not surprised and then there was the part of me that could kick into organisational mode after a very tiny cry with the lovely Dr Stef. She told me of the organisation from the Oral Surgeon’s and how I would be referred to a “Dr Clark” in Sydney….and to make contact with them. I hung up, then practical me called my husband’s workplace, and asked them to get him to call me. He did, soon enough, and came straight home (40 minute drive) as soon as he knew. This gave me (organised me) time to:

  • ring my G.P. for an appointment that afternoon. I needed to share and also plan some kind of support to get me to Sydney.
  • ring the rooms of the (Dr) now I know Professor Jonathan Clark, to make an appointment and I was offered one the very next day with his colleague.  I took it.
  • I did some research of where the place was we would be going to and…awaited my husband’s arrival.

Yes I had a long hug with my husband and a cry but, in so many ways THIS news answered so many questions that no-one considered a possibility.

We told no-one, saw our G.P. who was shocked but very supportive and helpful, and that night prepared myself as best I could to navigate 3 things I had become fearful about:

  1. drive in the car as a passenger
  2. go on the M1 and into Sydney
  3. finding toilet stops along the way

What Happened After That News.

It’s all in my first post about my cancer is here.

I was surprised in some ways about my attitude to the diagnosis and what came next. My husband reminds me though, that I had gone from the unknown to the known – a very long time it took too – and that is always better to deal with.

We told no-one other than our G.P. my former G.P. and my dentist. We wanted more information before sharing with our family: my father and our two adult children. Once we did that, there was for the sake of family re-connection a softening of what had been some difficulties within our extended family. Our son made the trip to see us and sharing time with my grandchildren was heartening and gave me great support for what lay ahead. And our daughter came once I was back home.

How to Wait.

Not good at this much but over time, I have learned some strategies which help me.

  • One is to go outside or drive somewhere pleasant to view nature and I did this.
  • Another is art or creating a mandala and I sure did these.
  • I did not, even after a brief look, trawl the internet. I had already worked out my cancer was rare.
  • I cooked. I knew I would have no upper teeth when I got home.
  • I prepared as best I could, clothing and other times for hospital
  • Completing the hospital admission forms. Oh my. They take FOREVER. But over time I did them.
  • Left all my  personal details such as passwords and so on to my husband and put them in writing, and signed my daughter into my facebook account so she could update people.
  • Go for a drive while I could.
  • Walk on the beach.
  • Take photos to remind me.
  • Send emails to the Ass/Professor with the questions I came up with. He returned with great answers. He also referred me to then, the new site called Beyond Five but my brain was not up to searching much at all in June 2017.
  • Ask a few times as the possible date drew closer, if the surgery was going ahead
  • Get a very short hair cut.
  • Pack a bag of things to do such as an art book, some half done mandalas and markers and leads for my iphone
  • Buy a new ipad. Well, my old one needed replacing!

Will I Blog About Cancer?

I thought long and hard on this one and perhaps it was a protective thing at the time. I did not want to be only a cancer blogger as I wanted to keep writing and sharing other parts of my life. This post before I had my surgery in 2017 is here.  I decided this may help others who have a cancer diagnosis like mine so over time, I began leaving them in this part of my home page. But let’s not get too far ahead of me!

How Will My Life Change?

I think it already had.

Life had been very challenging and with the cancer diagnosis there was a small surge of resilience in amongst the awful worries and fears and this in its own way buoyed me for the surgery which would be brutal, disfiguring, long and…having unknowns in  the outcome because “until all the biopsies etc come back” we do not know whether you will also need radiation.

I did however, stick with my tried and true helping mechanisms. They were walking outside, noticing nature, writing non-cancer blog posts, sharing on line, chatting in person or on the phone and seeing our son and daughter and their kids was a tremendous boon. I got the sweetest care package from my Aussie friend who lives in San Francisco so I felt very cared for and loved.

These Posts Tell The Update and Post-Surgery Stories Here.

First update after surgery is here.

Second update after surgery is here.

Third Update: now home and how things are going is here

What I Learned About Me and Cancer -4 months on is here

But What Else Happened?

The time of recovery at home was long, slow and methodical as it needed to be for someone who had part of her leg put into her mouth. OK, I can say that!

The good news at the 3 week post-surgery check back in Sydney’s Chris O’Brien Lifehouse was that there was no cancer found in my lymph glands and that whilst there was some in the (jaw) bone, the team would not recommend radiation as it might improve things for me to 96% whereas with ‘just the surgery’ I was at 95%. We agreed wholeheartedly and to be honest, I am terrified that IF my cancer came back radiation may be the answer. Too many complications to live with as I now know from my friends in a facebook group so I try not to go down that path of what if.

What changed for us as a couple is that over time, my husband wound down some of the study and volunteer activities he was doing. He was needed at home more but I was also pretty determined to be independent once I could be so we reached a good arrangement. As I became more mobile, even though my leg was still getting treatments by the community nurse, I could go to the shops.

I admit it was hard at first because I did not have much physical strength and I worried about people bumping my leg, but over time it settled. I even managed to drive to Dee Why to see my Dad after 5 months and he was so relieved to see me. I arranged to meet up with my daughter and granddaughters for a morning tea at Hornsby and we were delighted to accept the invitation to attend our eldest granddaughter’s 21st in Sydney.

But wait, there is more.

I had lost a LOT of weight before my cancer was finally diagnosed and I needed NOT to lose any weight once home in July as keeping weight on, helps a person with head and neck cancer to recover. I had nothing much that fitted me any more and finally, F I N A L L Y I admitted to myself it was time, around the end of October to take an interest in my appearance AND to go somewhere each day. Later in 2017 I wrote about my weight story    here

Dressing With Purpose, Having a Photo Taken and Going For Coffee.

This improved my emotional health big time, had me socialising again in person and on-line and even though I had no teeth up top and my smile was non-existent, I was back. Connecting and loving it.

Being a Part of Celebrating Women.

Before I knew I had cancer, I bravely offered to share my story with Dr Kirstin Ferguson for a project she began (it grew x 200) on social media. I sent in my responses to her questions, with some photos and a week before it was to be live, she let me know and I had only just found out I had cancer. She said, pull out if you wish and I thought…nah, tell the story. It went ahead, and later on in the book she and Catherine Fox co-wrote, my story is there too!

 

In a book! Me. Wonderful

More Surgery. More Recovery Time. 

When I was in I.C.U. after the first and big surgery, I was told by one of the registrars’ with my head and neck surgeon’s team that I would be having more surgeries. I was devastated. I said nothing at the time, but when I got the chance, and I was well on my way to recovery and in a room of my own at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, I spoke to her about how that was, for me, not the best timing for her comment. She said she would think on that. Perhaps I had never considered that more surgeries were to come…or had not wanted to know back in May 2017 at my diagnosis time, but yes…more surgeries.

November 2017.

Day Surgery. On the day when we heard Australia had voted for same sex marriage. The day itself started very early with a drive from Gorokan to Camperdown in peak hour traffic to arrive by 10.30. I disliked the pressure of the concern about arriving on time and for the future surgeries we (I asked!) decided to stay the night before in Sydney. Reconstruction surgery again. Inside my mouth again. Pain and more as I never quite understood the work these marvellous people did. However, new pain too. On my right thigh from a skin graft taken to go inside my mouth. I do know that after my check up visit in December, my husband had to take photos of the inside of my mouth to send to my Professor on a regular basis. We did. Things looked OK to him. I never knew really because in a very small space there had been a lot added inside me!

Happy 68th Birthday and Congratulations to Our Daughter. 

Our daughter finally completed her Masters of Education (Teacher Librarian) this year and we were so pleased for her. She did it tough over the time, raising kids solo, house moves and a new school in the mix, but she did it. We couldn’t attend her graduation so we did the next best thing…celebration with lemon meringue pie.

Turing 68 felt 1000% different to turning 67 (last post) where anxiety plagued me and a sore mouth. I celebrated out with a cuppa with my husband and donned a dress for the first time in years. Then our eldest granddaughter came up to share the celebrations, and I found out, that I could no longer blow out the candle on a cake! That night I had the amazing (hah) experience of sitting in a bath for 30 minutes and allowing the seaweed based dressing on my thigh to come off gently. It did. Over time. Good to be able to shower again too.

And I will be back with Part 2 of this post in a bit. Starting from December 2017 and finishing in May 2018.

Thank you for your interest, comments and support.

Denyse.

Link Up #236

Life This Week. Link Up #236

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: 17/51 Joyful. 26 Apr.

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Share Your Snaps. 15/51. #LifeThisWeek. Golden Wedding Anniversary. Part 3/3. 45/2021.

Share Your Snaps. 15/51. #LifeThisWeek. Golden Wedding Anniversary. Part 3/3. 45/2021.

And here we are, at the third  of the photo-based sharing for 2021.

I call this optional prompt, Share Your Snaps. Snaps is another word for photos, pics etc.

Every 5th Week on Mondays

 

For this week and the past 2 Share Your Snaps, I  shared the recent Golden Wedding Anniversary memories for us. 50 years married on 23.1.2021.

Part One is here.

Part Two is here.

This is a LOT more wordy than usual for a Share Your Snaps but in keeping with my blog being part of my history it’s worth it for my records.

Where We Live(d): Bella Vista   Glenwood   Empire Bay (Central Coast Sth)  Gorokan (Central Coast Nth)  Hamlyn Terrace (Central Coast Nth) current residence.

Where We Worked:

N.S.W. Department of Education Schools:

Denyse:  Cherrybrook P.S.  Jasper Road P.S.  Seven Hills West P.S.  Walters Road P.S.  Shalvey P.S.  Rooty Hill P.S.  Richmond P.S. As Principal. More here as part of Telling My Story.

Kellyville Ridge P.S.  Hebersham P.S.

Adult Education:

Via in-home English One to One Teaching.  In Small Classes: Macquarie Community College

Own Business:

Denyse Whelan K-6 Education Specialist.  Writer, Presenter, Advisor for Families with Children  Entering School.

University Contracts:Western Sydney.  Masters of Teaching Tutor   K-6 Pre-Service Teachers Experience in Schools.

New South Wales Teachers’ Institute   External Observer

Receiving my Service Medal. NSW Dept of Ed.

Bernard:

N.S.W. Department of Education Schools:

K-6 Teaching

Turramurra P.S. Shalvey P.S.

High School and Special Education Teaching

Parramatta Diocesan Schools: Western Sydney.

Own Business: Cabinet Maker, Kitchen Designs.  Home Tutoring.

Volunteer: Lifeline: Telephone Support and Counsellor

My man…visiting me at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in July 2017.

Vehicles: More!  Toyota Van,  Corolla,  Commodore,  Corolla, Lexcen, Toyota Van,  Commodore Wagon, Holden,  Ford Van,  Falcon,  Magna,  Toyota Paseo,  Territory,  Avensis,  Nissan Pathfinder,  Corolla,  Nissan X Trail

 

Now that is out of the way…our proud legacies in terms of family.

Our children, seen in the last Share Your Snaps, went on to form relationships and in a couple of instances, married their partners, and “we” became the most fortunate of people…in our life anyway…Grandma and Papa.

How did those names get chosen?

My parents for their own reasons chose to have their grandchildren call them bu their first name. Hence, “Andrew and Noreen” to the four grandkids they had between my brother and myself.  B’s parents were Nana and Pop. So, I came up with “Grandma” for me and “Grandpa” for B. This was fine. Until, when Miss J (eldest) started saying his name as “Papa” we LOVED it. And as I had a much loved Papa in my life , it fit. I admit I got “Gummy” for a while, and now the adult grandkids refer to us as G-Ma and Pups.

 

Here they are: in order of arrival as our grandchildren….we are so fortunate! First one arrived late 1996 and the last one early 2015.

A few more memories, specifically from the Golden Wedding Anniversary:

We were very grateful to receive cards and letters of congratulations from various heads of state and government.

These can be organised for many celebratory occasions and the links are here and here if you are interested. I knew what to do because I had used this to get my parents’ Diamond Wedding Anniversary Congratulations Messages. Knowing your local (in our case, N.S.W.) member is also a way to apply along with sending in our case, a copy of our marriage certificate. The one lodged at Births Deaths and Marriages.

The Federal member for us also helped and very kindly sent her personal congratulations in a floral way!

And just a few more memories…it seems ages ago now but life is like that, right?

And that is it. The three posts commemorating our Golden Wedding Anniverary on 23 January 2021.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

Denyse.

Link Up #235

Life This Week. Link Up #235

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: 16/51 Interesting. 19 Apr. My Post will be Telling My Story Chapter 23. Pt1.

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Heroic. 13/51. #LifeThisWeek. 39/2021.

Heroic. 13/51. #LifeThisWeek. 39/2021.

As I am the instigator of these optional prompts you might think ‘ah that makes it easier to write’….well actually it doesn’t at times. This is one such time.

I was telling my husband about it and he said this about me. I wasn’t asking, but he told me he saw me as a hero.

“Displaying great courage under difficult circumstances and I see that in you”

He would say any more…ha! Man of few words and apt to give praise very rarely. However, it was not only related to overcoming cancer, but he didn’t elaborate and I know him well enough to know it’s cool that he sees me that way.

 

Heroic: adjective

having the characteristics of a hero or heroine; admirably brave or determined.”heroic deeds”

(of language or a work of art) grand or grandiose in scale or intention.

“one passes under pyramids and obelisks, all on a heroic scale”

Heroic: noun

behaviour or talk that is bold or dramatic.”the England star is getting special treatment because of his World Cup heroics”

heroic(a.) Synonyms: brave, valiant, courageous, intrepid, bold, daring, gallant, fearless, dauntless, noble, magnanimous. heroic(a.)

 

Some Heroic Actions and Attitudes by People I Know.

  • My late mother. She overcame intense shyness, some anxiety and being deaf in one ear, to eventually make her way into a new group of friends and social circles when Dad’s promotion at work brought us to Sydney leaving behind her family and all she knew. Dad told me recently that she did not want to make that move. I understood that from my own experiences in 2014-2015.

  • My eldest granddaughter. She’s someone who has overcome (and continues to monitor and do well) a serious life-changing auto-immune condition. She had managed it with support from her Mum of course but as anyone with a serious  health condition knows, it is UP to you…always. Onya Miss J.

  • My youngest granddaughter. Turning 6 very soon, her way of arriving in the world set the scene for future heroic and an attitude determination. A breech baby who refused to be turned, so Mum gave birth naturally (under safe conditions) and then when she broke her wrist a year ago, took the hospitalisation, surgery, and recovery in her stride. So cool….about it, I mean!

 

  • My late paternal grandmother. She fell in love, during World War 1, in England, with a Scottish-born soldier from Australia, recovering in a hospital near her home. She left everything and everyone she knew to get on a War Bride ship to sail to Australia. She always hoped to go back home to visit but circumstances of poverty prevented that. Became a mum to 4 by the time she was in her 30s, and it was the Depression. Sadly, her husband died of injuries in a workplace accident. She may never have liked her life after that but she was heroic enough to see it through, dying of old age in 1985.

 

  • My husband. Shhhh. I looked at the list and thought, I have no men on it. He is heroic in so much he does and is to me and our family. Early, medical retirement aged 30 was not how life should have been for him, and his family, but he, over time, made some great opportunities come his way to improve his health, our lives together and more. He is quiet, self-effacing but every day, in often debilitating chronic pain, he makes the most of each waking moment. He makes me laugh every.single.day.

And then, there are the Women of Courage featured here.

Back in 2019 I heard Jane Caro speak at Newcastle Writers Festival about her latest book Accidental Feminists. After that, I realised I knew many, many women would could share their own stories of courage if they were prepared to. More said yes than no. Then over 2019 and into 2020 over 50 posts were published here.

I am selecting a few, where I see heroic actions and attitudes went hand in hand in the courage of those women. I honour each and every woman’s story.

Debbie Harris’  Story.

From her post, back in 2019, here is her story. It tells itself. Her blog is here.

“We all need to be brave in our own way and make the most of what life throws at us.  It’s funny that anyone who gets a bravery award says they didn’t feel brave they just did what they had to do at the time.  Those were my exact words when I was given the award”.

Deb Morton’s Story.

Deb’s second son, is friend and author Rick Morton. His latest book “My Year of Living Vulnerably” is a must-listen/read. His facebook page has more. I am in awe of his words and more. Her story, awful as it is, is here. I so appreciate Deb’s involvement with this.

“I am a better person for what I have gone through , I am so lucky that my little daughter saved me , the fact that she needed me , helped, I thank God every day she came into my life and I know that I have passed on to her the ability to deal with whatever life throws at her, she is a hardworking and capable person that I can be proud of!”

 

Jane Caro’s Story.

In her earlier book, and as part of her story,  Jane wrote of her anguish when her first child (now very well adult teacher & Mum herself) was very sick in the Children’s Hospital in Camperdown and how a doctor’s words, below helped. Follow Jane here.

I asked for help (as going to therapy had taught me to do) and spoke to neo-natologist and grief counsellor Dr Peter Barr. He said these three sentences to me that began to crack the carapace of anxiety I had been living behind. “There’s nothing special about you, there’s nothing special about Polly (my daughter). Terrible things can happen, and they can happen to anyone. Safety is an illusion, danger is reality.”

Catching up with Jane Caro: April 2019.

 

 

By the way, IF you would like to share YOUR story, I would be happy to send you the 5 questions…let me know via an email to

denyse@ozemail.com.au as I see no reason why I cannot have some more Women of Courage posts into 2021.

DELIGHTED to ANNOUNCE: 2021 will have a series of Women of Courage.

After April, there will be more stories to share.

This is what I wrote today to quite a few women who I follow on twitter, many of whom I have known for some years:

Hello

In 2019 and into 2020 I had a series of posts written by women, answering 5 questions from me about being courageous. Given recent events here in Australia, we know women’s voices need to be heard more. I am asking you, would you be interested in taking part in 2021 series.. It can be using your name or anonymously.

Do let me know YES or NO…and if it’s a yes, your best contact email please.

Thank you,

Denyse Whelan

The page here takes you to the 56 stories already shared.

https://www.denysewhelan.com.au/women-of-courage/

 

 

Goodness me, with this post we are 1/4 of the way through 2021.

Make of that what you will!

If you celebrate the coming Easter festival, may it be enjoyable.

I know teachers (parents and kids) in N.S.W. schools are looking forward to end of Term One and some holiday time.

Denyse.

Link Up #233

Life This Week. Link Up #233

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: 14/51 Self Care Stories #2. 5 Apr.

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One Year Ago: So Much Change Happened. July- December. 2020. 31/2021.

One Year Ago: So Much Change Happened. July- December. 2020. 31/2021.

Recently I wrote here about the changes for me, and many of us, in the first half of 2020 in my life, my local area and wider community during Covid 19 conditions in Australia.

From memory, I think we started to deal with the restrictions of Covid 19 here in our local area quite well:

Central Coast (located on map below – right side -Eastern Australia between Sydney and Newcastle)

It’s in the state of New South Wales Australia.

There were many who would say differently and that is because of these Covid 19  impacts:

  • Borders between states and territories closed/opened/required permits/required quarantine….with changes occurring immediately or overnight. Often without warning.

 

  • Those who were trying to get back home to Australia from overseas were met with cancellations by airlines at the last minute, changes in Australia’s capacity to manage quarantine situations if and when people returned

 

  • As I write, late February 2021, this is still quite an issue. The Australian (Federal) Government and its various Departments are doing what they can (they say) but as we are also State-based, those leaders have to agree/acknowledge their limitations for taking people into quarantine. I know little about it but keep an eye on facebook friends who I know are in this situation and understand it is not great.

 

  • Then there is this. The quarantine comes at a personal cost to returning travellers/citizens and whilst initially it was free, it is now $3000 per first person in family and less for subsequent members. A friend is almost finished her quarantine with her 18 year old daughter and has shown updates from their room, food supplied and more. She is Australian, with her daughter, also Australian, returning to the capital city where they used to live for her to start University. They still live as expats in Singapore for her husband’s work.

 

  • There is also this example. Another friend cannot travel across Australia to see her family (a new & first grandchild born before Covid hit) because of the states’ laws between her state (New South Wales) and that where her grandson and family live (Western Australia). Quarantine costs time AND money and as she is the sole income earner in her family, she cannot afford to do this. We know why, it is just hard!

 

  • For those reading from countries other than Australia, our country, is also a continent and is roughly close in physical size to North America.

Health (again!)

June and it brought my first colonoscopy in over 10 years. It was something I needed but oh my, I hate the prep. I would have to say, it is probably worse than any surgical procedure!! Anyway, because I know I could be having some surgery in my future, I did take the chance once some of the Covid rules for travel and visiting were reduced, to go see my father who had been automatically socially isolating because of his age and where he lives. As always he was pleased to see me and I carried some frozen meals and treats for him. It’s roughly a two hour drive to him from us and similarly on the way back. I listen to audiobooks most times! As the walking on beaches was less restrictive over time, I could visit again.

Our 7th grandchild turned 7. There was no family party but she knew we were thinking of her. We always send a card, which I add lots of photos inside as a memento of the grandchild and us…and often some money is put in the parent’s bank account for the child to spend later on something needed or wanted or even both. Schooling continued to be a mix of home and at school from memory and like everything and everyone, adaptations happened.

My colonoscopy result was good (no cancer ) but also, yes, you need rectal prolapse surgery so I began preparation for the date allocated in July. School holidays were in this month but we had no visitors nor did we visit. Being winter, everyone was pretty cautious around going anywhere and restrictions for visitors to the home were still in place. There was no outdoor concerts, nor even indoor ones at this point. On-line shopping and event gathering happened via Zoom. My pre-hospital admission ended up being over the phone for the late July surgery.

I admit, that pre-major surgery I do get concerned/worried/stressed and much of it, in this case, related to the procedure, what it would be like before I went into theatre – an enema would be carried out – and the preparation whilst thorough and necessary for the type of surgery just added to my load.

I tried to get myself into some nature, locally as it was fine to visit, and to making some meals so that I would have plenty of variety for me to eat. You see, since head and neck cancer surgery, eating anywhere other than home, and in small and suitable quantities is how I have to keep well-nourished.

I did it. Well, the surgeon did, and I am, as always  a model patient and excellent recoverer so I got to come home a night early. I was so stressed because…couldn’t eat much, very uncomfy and my colo rectal surgeon kindly OK-ed me to go home. Best place ever!

World Head and Neck Cancer Day: 27 July 2020. Suddenly when COVID hit, all aspects of fundraising in person went by the by, and in came virtual events, cooking demonstrations and Soup For the Soul via individuals where groups might gather. My surgery was within the same week as this but I did what I could prior to the Day in my role as an Ambassador….and jumping ahead to September, Beyond Five had a name change to Head and Neck Cancer Australia. I remain honoured to be continuing this important work of awareness sharing and telling my story.

August arrived with some wonderful people we had not seen since late the previous year…at least I had but my husband had not. Grandchildren and our son, their Dad. I was still very gingerly post-op with a sore tummy that had an upside down T incision from belly button to pelvis because of the finding of a hernia on top of doing the repair. Sigh. Thank goodness I was wise enough to get some very loose fitting pants and slip on slipper/shoes because getting up and bending was not part of my repertoire then. Nevertheless I had the wonderful feeling of wellness and happiness because...family!

The wellness continued until it did not.

My wound, which had an area of where the opening had been a challenge for my surgeons, opened up slightly but enough to be scary. Fluid leaked constantly and fortunately my G.P. got me straight back to my surgeon, who arranged for wound debridement surgery the following Monday. The hospital stays were about 3 weeks apart. The surgery meant I wore a bag called a VAC attached to the wound and I had home visits from a nurse for almost 3 weeks, then visits to my local GP Nurse. I was not finally well…i.e. the wound closed and good till October 6th! 

More Than “just” Health…Life Goes On!!

Head and Neck Cancer Check in early September 2020 went so well my head and neck surgeon said “see you in a year”. I was in shock. Many of us with cancers who have on-going checks which indicate no changes (for the bad or cancer returning) tell me that hearing that from the doctors can be like that. We are so used to someone keeping an eye on us!

Father’s Day: no get togethers but I remembered the Dads in my life…and that of our children and their children.

6/9/2020: the Fathers & Grandfathers

Together For Fifty Years!

In October we celebrated our meeting as young teachers at a NSW Teachers Federation Conference Dinner at Tamworth in 1970 by going back. It was a great trip down memory lane and some of these snaps capture it. I wrote about it more for Telling My Story here too.

November. Staying In Touch.

Our two eldest granddaughters visited for a mission…taking photos (memories) of their grandparents to celebrate their 50 years together. It was so good to see them again too. What fun we had. Lots of smiles and laughter!

Time for another visit to see my Dad. Important for me (and him) having these more frequent visits as he has kept himself more isolated socially due to Covid and his restricted physical mobility.

I also have almost no other reasons to be driving back and forth to Sydney so can factor in seeing Dad once a month now.

He has had some tricky (for him) health scares including potential melanoma (not) and a serious balance issue (sorted in 2018 along with the permanent loss of vision in one eye (only about 20% OK) so he relies on this better eye. An avid reader, and writer, he is very restricted for both now. He does however, remain very active in one social group where he lives and relies on his TV news and more including sport and other interests.

My husband joined me on my 30 November catch up morning tea because it was my 71st Birthday!

The two of us.

Suddenly it’s THAT month: December.

I spent quite a bit of time on-line and out and about at the local ‘cheap shops’ as I call them finding memorabilia and items for our Golden Wedding Anniversary coming up in mid January 2021. I admit it was fun and very distracting and I enjoyed both the research and the rewards.

I had a little niggle of pain in the area of my upper prosthesis and had a hastily arranged appointment in Westmead with my prosthodontist where he felt it would be OK once I took a dose of anti-biotics and took care with some ‘sharp foods’…ok, chips.

Happily back in the car to see Dad as a pre-Christmas visit. We had plans to go to our daughter’s in North Western Sydney to join most of our family, and Dad was going to my brother’s for Christmas Day….and whilst I did get to see Dad on 17 December, on 18 December everywhere on Sydney’s Northern Beaches – where Dad and brother live – was declared a Covid Hot Spot. Oh Great. NOT.

COVID really interrupted many plans for Christmas and BEYOND. Big time.

By close to Christmas Day, we made the decision not to travel to our daughter’s house.

My Dad would be going to my brother’s as his house, whilst in the Northern Beaches, was OK to have visitors from within the same area.

I ended up with some more pain in my gum and my prosthodontist was able to fit me in 3 days before Christmas (all was OK but he left me with an anti-biotic script just in case) and I took the chance to swing by my daughter’s beforehand to drop off our presents and biscuits I had made to her and see two of my granddaughters.

 Time to Reflect.

Gratitude was my word for 2020. I needed it. I remembered it and I am glad I chose it.

Our extended family stayed well, despite some visits to emergency departments for chronic conditions and accidents. No covid.

Those in our family had shelter, an income and care of each other. Money coming in did reduce and some were helped by the Australian government Covid payments.

We felt generally well, and very safe in the house we call home (even though it is not ours) and we know we are here until April 2022.

We could not fault those in the medical and hospital and ancillary health services who cared for us, as older citizens.

I was glad to be a supporter of all that was happening in schooling and schools things changed…because I am a “cheerleader” but not to have to manage a family and work anymore.

We were grateful we had plenty of practice living as a retired couple and 2020 did not challenge us too much at all. We have separate spaces for our hobbies and interests and that is a good thing.

We had each other.

We remained focussed as much as we could on the good the year had brought, particularly to me as I ticked health boxes and recovered so well.

Summing it up:

How was the second half of 2020 for you and your family?

Denyse.

Linking up here with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

 

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