Tuesday 28th June 2022

Gratitude for Women & Girls In My Life: IWD 2022. 15/2022.

Gratitude for Women & Girls In My Life: IWD 2022. 15/2022.

In past years I have made social media posts for IWD….International Women’s Day.

Today: Tuesday 8 March 2022 I want to go further:

My late Mother.

I did a recent tribute post to her here. We are together in 2003 where she & Dad had their favourite Winter stays 1990s to 2000s : Burleigh Heads.

 

 

My late Grandmothers and my Aunt.

Mum is in this collage too. This is from the tribute to them, from me, as Women of Courage. To be found here.

 

Women Who Helped Me Through Head and Neck Cancer:

from diagnosis, surgeries and into recovery.

Not every woman is here.

There are the ones who asked after me on social media, and are part of head and neck cancer groups.

There are my blogging friends…so many, and they are also here on the women of courage page.

I remain incredibly grateful for their:

Love

Compassion

Concern

Healing Wishes

So, with gratitude I honour my recovery with this collage:

From top left:

  • Every week, from 2017 I had coffee at Randa’s in Wyong. She cared for and about me on some very tough days. I remain in touch regularly.
  • Meeting Lisa via her establishment of the Big Hug Box: we shared a passion for giving back and for our cancer care at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. Lisa’s story is here.
  • My Friend and Fellow Teacher…and HNC rare oral cancer friend. Tara. Smiles all round when we met. Her story is here.
  • A friend from social media is Dr Katie Nash, a Paediatrician who now lives on Central Coast, and very grateful for her time to chat and have coffee
  • Nadia Rosin: CEO of Head and Neck Cancer Australia. Friend and wonderful advisor to me as an Ambassador. This photo from day we met in October 2018 at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.
  • Cate Froggatt. My goodness we sure have connected…hugs, words on line, and in person and as the surgical assistant to my professor, Cate has seen more of the inside of my mouth than me. A great friend…on the phone via reassurance too. Her story is here.
  • Julie: the nurse at the Oral Surgeon’s at Ourimbah who KNEW where to refer me for diagnosis and treatment after Stef, the oral surgeon told me I had cancer in my gums. So grateful over and over for her knowledge!
  • Two in one gratitude photo here: with A/Prof Puma Sundaresan who is the chair of Head and Neck Cancer Australia, and Dr Caity Frede, whose initiative to fund raise for HANCA was on behalf of her dad, who had succumbed to Head and Neck Cancer. I was honoured to be asked to speak at the charity fundraising event.
  • My local Federal MP Emma McBride. Emma has been especially interested in sharing more about head and neck cancer after she came to our place for morning tea in July 2018 prior to World Head and Neck Cancer Day.

Then I show my gratitude to these people.

The women and the girls I am related to by blood…as they say.

My daughter: (middle left & right)  an amazing person in many ways, who is far to self-effacing but her Mum can say that. She has raised her family singly but with some support and has been, at the same time, a person who also gives back, as a volunteer at Sydney Jewish Museum, and in past times at her schools, on local sports’ committees. Back to Uni and continuing to teach part time, and raise her kids through very challenging times, she became a teacher librarian at a local school but now, by invitation as stepped up to be an Assistant Principal. Her oldest three are all over 21 but her youngest child is still in primary school…so she is a busy woman. However, she is a caring one who keeps a lookout for her fellow staff members and in this time of covid and teaching from home has been an exemplary leader.

My eldest granddaughter and second granddaughter: (top left & bottom middle) Now adults I can’t say too much of course, but they are finding their feet in life, and staying connected to family. Both of these women were in our care quite a bit as kids, and we share some great memories now. They were also the duo who managed our pre-50th Wedding Anniversary photo shoot.

Our daughter’s youngest. (middle right) This one is somewhat shy but also loves to share her stories and life with us via media. We attended her 9th Birthday last year and she was one happy girl connecting with family and friends.

Our son’s three daughters. One is almost a teen and we are in bottom left and in top middle. Miss R was cared for by us from 5 months to over 5 years a few day a week and we so value her love and presence in our lives. Miss E, dark hair ( middle top, and bottom right) is a character who we cared for from around 5 months till 18 months. When we left Sydney we did not get the same chances to be carers for Miss M, blondie in top left, middle top, and bottom right, but we love her courage, and her determination. She shares my Mum’s name as her second name.

 

Thank you all. Your lives and your stories lift me up. To those not mentioned, you too are valued by me for your presence, love and friendship.

Every day…but especially on International Women’s Day.

Denyse.

This from my son today on social media. I am very touched and grateful.

 

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My Father Is 98 Today. 3/2022.

My Father Is 98 Today. 3/2022.

In his mother’s arms. 1924.

My father, Andrew Simpson, was born in Wollongong NSW 98 years ago today.

11.1.1924.

He was the second child and first son to his father, Andrew and mother, Henrietta. His parents met via WWI when he was recovering from war related mustard gas poisoning & she was from the town where the hospital was located.

After the war, the war bride arrived to make her home in her new husband’s city of Wollongong. His family had emigrated from Scotland before WW1.

Dad went on the become brother to two more siblings. In the middle photo, Dad is around 11, and this is likely the last pic of his whole family.

Andy, Dad’s Dad, was fatally injured in a workplace accident at the Steelworks in Port Kembla.

So, it’s 1935, and already the effects of the Great Depression left their mark on Dad and his family. In fact, in a way, he has to grow up from then.

His mother, Gran as I knew her, became an embittered and sad woman not only because of widowhood but due to family matters, received no help at all from her late husband’s more well-to-do family.

What my father tells me helped him was:

Joining the scouting movement

Being an excellent student at school

Having some support from local men who ensured Dad’s education continued at Wollongong HS.

But, at 15, he needed to leave, to become employed and with his aptitude for office work, good understanding of figures, he was given an office traineeship with Australian Iron & Steel.

He worked hard, he rode a push bike to work and he revelled in the scouting connections.

From 1939-1945 Australia was in WW11, and Dad was working in an essential industry and could not enlist. He did community work with the Rover Scouts but it bothers him still that he could not play a part as many did…friends and family, to help his country.

By 1946, life sure stepped up a notch or 3, and he’d done very well with his clerical work and was on his way to being an accountant…and met a lovely woman who was a lady cub master, at Mt Keira scout camp, marrying her on 2.11.1946.

Dad found a different and more loving extended family via Mum’s relatives and was accepted by all. They worked hard, saving money and after 3 years, just about had a brand new house built in Gywnneville with the help of many friends, ready to welcome their first child, Denyse.

Sadly for Dad, and Mum too, he was obliged to go and work in Melbourne for most of my first year of life as it was company policy. He rode it out though, helped by me and mum flying to Melbourne to stay for a while.

By the time Dad returned and was told for his continuing employment – after all, this was a big company which had trained him and given him work experiences for over 10 years, he would be based in Melbourne.

With much thought, and in discussion with some independent mentors, he resigned and took up a role as the works accountant with a fertiliser company based in Port Kembla.

Life was improved  more so, with the addition of a son, and a Holden Car! Dad tells me he had a car in order for many months & whilst waiting had some basic lessons in driving, so when he took ownership of the car, in Sydney, his mate said “you drive home”.

Memories here are mine. Life as kids in Wollongong was family centred, we both went to the local primary school just down the street. We were taken to the beach, Dad helped us learn to body surf, we joined brownies and cubs, and enjoyed life with a few challenges. One was when Mum’s hearing, very damaged after childbirth, necessitated her having major surgery in Sydney and Dad managed work, seeing her and making sure us kids were OK with neighbours helping out.

The forever home and comfortable life in Wollongong did not remain. Dad’s skills were seen as being needed at the higher end of the company ladder, and was offered the role of Chief Accountant in the Sydney Offices of his company.

In recent years Dad & I have chatted about this big move which must have challenged their marriage as Mum had her family nearby and couldn’t even think about moving.  It did happen and despite the initial misgivings, turned out to be a richer and more varied life than either could have imagined.

Balgowlah Heights, Sydney  Years. 1959-2011.

Aspects of my parents’ life have also been covered within the Telling My Story series here.

Now, as I share on his actual birthday, and I cannot visit him because I am not well (not covid) I thought this might be a good way to share.

1960s into 1970s.

Dad’s life expanded socially and work wise with contacts in the new local community, joining scout association and kids’ cricket group both with my brother’s activities. Supporting our local primary school and getting to be part of the much larger community on the northern beaches. He and Mum joined sporting clubs to play social tennis and he became a golfer at Balgowlah Golf Club as a Saturday regular. It was a great sporting and social connection for him, eventually becoming the club  treasurer and later a life member.

Work was big and busy and often took him away for a day or more to visit work sites in relation to his financial role. As we kids grew up, Mum would often accompany him and that was best for them both.

The Big Trip in 1966.

His bosses were progressive with the big company take over of the original one, and Dad was selected to attend the Harvard Business School Management Summer Program at University of Hawaii in June 1966. A VERY big trip beforehand took him literally around the world, visiting places of business related to the big company. It changed his life in so many ways as he still tells us. Eight weeks away and endless friendships and connections made helped he and Mum when they then had their turns at international travel and over time, many trips back to Hawaii.

The class of 1966.

Kids Grow Up. Leave Home. More Happening! 

I left to teach at Barraba in 1970, and met my husband, marrying in 1971 and  my brother had an OS trip and work training, and then in 1976 married his wife. Dad saw that wherever we (the kids) ended up, he and Mum would come to visit where possible. He and Mum did get to see a lot of Australia thanks to us both.

Grandkids and Home Improvements.

In late 1971, our first child, Dad’s first grandchild, was born. As we spent each school holidays with my parents (we were country based teachers) our daughter felt that their place was her second home. In 1978 Dad made a big decision for his comfort and enjoyment…and added a large in ground swimming pool to the back yard and it was loved by many till the house sold. More grandkids arrived in 1979, 1980 and 1981.

Work Comes To An End. 1983.

Dad is a planner and very astute financially. He was tiring of the office work…especially as leadership changes did not appeal, and whilst he could have been promoted to the ‘top’ job said no. He preferred using his financial expertise and not having the ‘buck’ stopping with him. His retirement present from work was a farewell trip around the world…first class, I think, with Mum, to see all of the works’ related places where he had made friends.

Active Retirement Years. 1984-2005.

Golf more often, trips away, taking grandkids on holidays, having a  Gold Coast holiday for each winter, and much more. Helping his family out in many ways. Dealing with deaths of his mother, other family members and more. Pragmatic and an organiser meant things happened well. Garden maintenance, volunteering at a local youth club, making new friends, farewelling older ones and taking time to enjoy life. A walk along the beach at Manly and even a surf until it became physically challenging. Welcoming the first great grandchild, then over the years till now, another 10! Celebrating zero birthdays and anniversaries. Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1996.

Not Wonderful Times.

Mum was not well and in 2006 even though she was fine to celebrate their Diamond Wedding Anniversary with the family, it was clear her health was taking a toll on her and of course on Dad, as her main carer. In early 2007 Dad and Mum were told she was terminally ill with secondary brain tumours and the decision made by her, and supported all the way by Dad and us, was no treatment other than palliative care. Mum died on 5 March 2007. Dad was both relieved and bereft.

The next 3 years were ones of transitioning to being by himself and remaining as well as he could…and his goal remains that. A great walker and social person he continued his practice of getting out and about each day and meeting friends. But time, and a large cold house meant he was ready for more comfort and people around him.

New Beginnings. 

After selling the family home, Dad hosted a farewell to Curban Street with all of us there and it was bittersweet. Nevertheless he moved on and into the spacious, modern and well-fitted out apartment at Dee Why where he is today. He has made a whole group of new friends in the 10 years since he moved in. He hosted a 90th Birthday for friends old & new, and family at the RSL club next door 8 years ago. His health has remained good until the last couple of years where he was troubled with a balance issue and he spent 3 weeks in rehab getting that sorted. His GP says his heart is in great shape. Sadly, mobility is challenging but he has a walker. His eyes are affected by macular degeneration. But his mind remains incredibly active and rarely forgets anything. He can’t score at darts anymore because of his eyes. But he can listen to music, chat with others and use the phone. Interested always in learning more, his neighbours who are originally from the UK and he get together weekly for sharing knowledge and history. He cares for himself including minor cooking. He has a cleaner. He is well.

Today, even though I cannot visit him as I am not feeling well, friends are taking him out for lunch. Yesterday my brother, who lives close by, and family took Dad a cake, and we facetimed for his 98th Birthday.

He has no secret for living to this age. He has outlived all of his older times friends and his family.

Happy 98th Birthday Dad.

Denyse.

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Self Care Stories #7. 47/51 #LifeThisWeek. 127/2021.

Self Care Stories #7. 47/51 #LifeThisWeek. 127/2021.

The Last Of These 2021.

With images and some a lot of words, I will bring you, my readers, up to date with self care!
Here we go.
Mental Health
I got to do this after lockdown ended on 11 October for us here on Central Coast N.S.W….and second day in a row made it even better.
Celebrating wellness, and cafes being open..and sitting to have a coffee (double shot small latte) was a joy.
 
Had my final visit to psychologist too- had 2 in total this time round – as I had already been implementing quite a bit I had learned via my first psychologist (2016-17) and “life” experiences, reading & listening, AND having a trained counsellor husband for some “tips” and listening…
 
My own words as takeaways for me:
 
Allow time to pass. I learned this over & over again between head and neck cancer treatments…
 
Some voices and messages from so-called authority figures in my past told me information that was not helpful and fed the shame I carried about parts of my life….
 
I have the tools I need in my toolbox of strategies
 
My time in Covid was made ‘easier’ because of what I learned as a head and neck cancer patient
 
Allowing myself to feel the feelings…acknowledging them and letting them go is good practice for me
 
My self-awareness and understanding of what can be holding me back is improving as I acknowledge it too
 
That’s about it.
 
Oh and there is no shame in seeking psychological help at any time. I did this via a GP Mental Health Care Plan.
Making slow and minimal changes for me (no-one else!) re weight and activity.
And How Life Went for Us in Photos!
We used to have morning tea dates way back, now, each fortnight, we are trying out mini excursions. The one overlooking M1 is from a back road which wends from Ourimbah through rainforest! This is less than 25 mins from home. We continued to explore last week, driving to Terrigal (about 45 mins from home) to experience the new Boardwalk from the Haven to Terrigal Beach. Lovely! Not crowded as a school/work day and drizzly.

Self care is not selfish. We know that, right?

I would like to admit how much I feel the benefits of cutting back my blogging and my commitment to some of the social media groups and more that I think I felt far too much pressure (me, internal) to continue. As stated in last week’s blog post, I am making changes to 2022 plans for blogging and and thanks to you, the readers and sharers of your blogs, for understanding my ‘why’.

The Ageing Thing. 

It’s true for me, and my husband, that turning 70 and beyond has brought new issues to deal with in terms of physical health.

Ones that need check ups, some that need (different/new) medication and other test and referrals. We have a fantastic GP team where we have been going since April 2017 and in the very unlikely event that we ever had to move, the worst part would be if we could not continue to see this group. Mind you, no plans to move AND hope to continue renting here for as long as the owner allow.

Recently I’ve had an opthalmologist changeover as the person Mr W and I had been seeing since our 40s, finally said “I’m retiring”. Fortunately the practice we go to remains at Morriset, about 30 minutes drive away and they have all our records. I had some reassurance when I thought I was having a sight problem. Dad has macular degeneration so I keep up to date with how my eyes are going. The new Doctor told me there was a little bit of tissue behind the right eye that had its cataract replaced in March 2020 (left eye too) and he lasered it away in the surgery, and whilst I had some reactions with light sensitivity and still some blurring, I know my eyes and sight are in good order.

Annual Bloods and Other Tests. I always wonder how these will be as low iron has been a problem till the iron infusion in February 2021. Results are in: marvellous in all areas of health. I am incredibly grateful for wellness and, even with my cancer, to have good health. My iron, was 11 before infusion in February, rising to 200+ in March 2021, and now at 170 ish.

Feet! The podiatrist sees me every 6 weeks and things are going well with no dramas. I have had to accept the fact that the skeleton and muscles and tendons in my feet are ‘in pretty poor’ shape so shoes/walking wise I must always wear something, even around the house. Barefeet, my previous practice, can over time, and walking on hard floors cause plantar fascitis.

Hair. Well, now that I knew it was back to good health and thick (or so thick!) before I had it cut, I am relieved my hair health is back to good.

Breasts. I had an unexpected mammogram and ultrasound because of some pain but all clear, and strangely enough, pain went too. Now next one is in 2 years.

Any Follow Up For Rectopexi? Nope. Best decision ever to have that long-delayed surgery and to never be worried about bowel incontinence again. IBS has basically disappeared in the nasty diarrhoa form I used to get so very pleased with change in life style this brought.

Ears. I probably have some hearing loss but not needing testing at all…yet.

Heart, kidneys, lungs etc. All good via my GP’s test.

Cancer! Oh that. Mouth goes well. I hope to see my prosthodontist in the new year as he hasn’t seen inside my mouth for 7 months. Pretty sure my care is fine. And, my “last” (sob!) head and neck cancer check will be in September 2022. Why sob? Love my Prof and Nurse. Will Miss Them!!

Teeth. Yes, the remaining 8 on the bottom are going well thanks to me and my dentist up here.

Emotional Health.

My cup is already full of love for and love of our family.

Our daughter, solo mum, relieving Assistant Principal, turned 50 this year and just keeps on going. Very caring person and her three adult children benefit from her love every day. Miss E, aged 9 does too of course..when not asking a million questions!

Our son, solo dad, and psychologist, doing all he can to work on his new business helping Dads, maintaining a terrific physical health program via his local gym, and being the best dad to his four kiddoes aged 14 to 6.

We missed seeing them all, as did all people with loved ones in covid, and so our daughter and her youngest visited the first weekend of freedom, our eldest granddaughter the following weekend, and then we drove to Sydney to see our son and his four at his place.

This is how hearts are filled with joy, wonder and love…..

Minding H & R in 2011

 

Now here they are…R is off to HS in 2022, her brother into Yr 9.

And it was, as always good to see my father even though his sight is not great and he is weary, he can still enjoy a chat (it’s inherited by me) and we enjoyed some reminiscing and some morning tea. Afterwards, I drove to Manly to enjoy the views from the Wharf end. Growing up here was not even seen as anything special back in 1950s and 60s but as time has passed, I know I am grateful to have this as part of my life’s history.

And I will leave, with this… a great horizon shot!

How’s your self care coming along?

Share in the comments.

Thank you for reading and commenting!

Denyse.

Link Up #267.

Life This Week. Link Up #267.

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Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 48/51 Taking Stock #5. 29 Nov. Link Up #268

 

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Gratitude. A Word & A Feeling. #Head&NeckCancer #Recovery. 82.1/2021.

Gratitude. A Word & A Feeling. #Head&NeckCancer #Recovery. 82.1/2021.

I occasionally add a post in between planned ones as I am doing today, 6th July 2021.

The reason is how grateful I am feeling and wanted to express this on the blog as I have already shared via my social media updates.

Today is a special day in my life.

6th July 2021.

It marks the 4th Anniversary of the first, and very complex, surgery for the cancer in my upper gums and under the top lip to be removed, along with ALL of my upper jaw and palate.

Yes, what an occasion. Oh, and in case you did not know, I also had a reconstruction in that same 11 hour surgery which harvested my right fibula, flesh and skin from my right leg and added those to make me an upper mouth. Much more to it than that, but I am here to tell the story that it did, for me go well.

I had no idea really how I would go in recovery but the fact that I had complete trust in my team and their planning and their work, and could see that I was in the best place possible for this to happen all helped. Greatly. I am a worrier by nature but over time, learned that with that my job was to keep the healing going, taking care of my emotional health and doing all I could physically to recover. There are many blog posts and they are all here.

Today though is a sharing of my updates from yesterday and today.

5th July Memories.

The day of pre-admission to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for my head & neck cancer surgery & reconstruction the next day. Never forget how it was. A relief in many ways. It had been 7 weeks of waiting. For planning, software & 3D model for my mouth. Not much sleep that night. 4 years ago. I already felt I was going to the best place for what was to happen. That instilled so much confidence in me and my husband having been here for the discussion of my surgery with my Professor and team.

Before AND After Images: 4 years apart.

One very special place I have visited over the 5 years we have lived here is the Bridge over Budgewoi Creek at MacKenzie Reserve.

The first image of of the hair-prepped for long time between haircuts, late June as I contemplated and considered what was ahead. Yes, I was scared but I also knew there was nothing else but to be putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward!

The second image, is from today (I do go here quite often but made a special trip today) to give my thanks for how my recovery and wellness is. I did not smile deliberately as I wanted to show my top lip for how it really is. Smiling of course is better…but I acknowledge that cancer took quite a bit of under that lip and 2x skin grafts have helped.

Today I shared this collage first.

It’s made up of four progress images from July 2017, July 2018, July 2019 and July 2020. Don’t my surgeons do an amazing job? And of course, my prosthodontist and my own body in recovery. Very, very grateful.

Selfies are great for monitoring progress for a visual person like me who needs evidence, as I waited… learning that TIME does indeed heal but patience is also necessary!

This impatient person learned, mostly to be a patient patient over the many months, trips back & forth to Sydney: Westmead Oral Sciences & Chris O’Brien Lifehouse

The person who helped me through these trying times… to learn patience is my husband!

 

Thank you Bernard for your patience & time given to me for “selfies”💙

 

Today we marked my 4th anniversary with some pics & a gratitude letter to my HNC surgeon & nurse… then I drove to Budgewoi to “exercise” but to mostly give thanks. This bridge at Mackenzie Reserve is a special place for me.❤️

 

About gratitude. Again!

I have posted many times about gratitude. I have found it a practice that when I use it, I am helped greatly by finding at least one thing to be grateful for in a not-so-good situation. Today though I feel full. In a good way. Emotionally. I feel well, and I really could not ask for me. It’s a feeling for me. My husband knows I remember days and dates and he wanted to know where today stood in terms of day, birthdays, Christmas etc and I said…after some thought:

Today is on top.

It is the best.

I am so grateful and I am sharing this gratitude in my way here by blogging, telling people I love and sharing as best as I can. From my post back in early 2020.

 

My 2020 Word of the Year. I Still Have It in 2021!

Thank you dear blog readers and commenters too, you all make a contribution to my healing and wellness.

Denyse.

 

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