Thursday 30th June 2022

Healing Me: My Personal Growth Story Over 5 Years. 42/2022.

Healing Me: My Personal Growth Story Over 5 Years. 42/2022.

Over the course of my oral cancer diagnosis (May 2017), first big surgery to remove the cancer and reconstruct my mouth (July 2017)   along with further surgeries in 2017 & 2018, and MANY visits to the prosthodontist, I have needed to grow in terms of my ability to withstand what was happening to me, and to find ways in which to manage, soothe, heal and be present for whatever came up. Link to my stories here.

This was not, as still is not, always easy but the many skills I have practised via meditation from Calm, becoming mindful far more often, and being present rather than future focussed (worry) or past focus (ruminating) helped.

I was also given advice from my dear husband even before cancer was diagnosed in May 2017, that I might be better helping my emotional health by having a daily routine.

No longer working and finding the transition to a retired life in a new place to us did not sit well with me, and I have written of this before. So I did, and still do follow for me a loose daily routine. Dressing with purpose, going out somewhere if I can for a coffee, noticing nature, blogging, engaging on social media and connecting in conversation with my husband.

In commemorating the 5 years of managing myself physically and emotionally, I have made some collages and little stories attached to what help me heal and grow as a person.

I am very grateful for all of the knowledge, and skills I have embedded and I continue to learn more as a life time learner.

Places.

The beaches near where we live. Lakes Beach is more accessible for walking and often has a dramatic surf, Soldiers Beach has suffered from recent erosion and is now harder to access but has amazing views from the carpark and I also swam/walked there last year and earlier this year.

The lakes system. This northern end of the NSW Central Coast has a series of lakes which are named more for the area in which they are located. I visit Wallarah Peace Park at Gorokan, Osborne Park at Toukley and parts of Budgewoi, including MacKenzie Reserve where the wonderful and photogenic pedestrian bridge is.

Wallarah Peace Park. Gorokan. A favourite place for reflection since late 2015.

The River System.

Wyong River. From early on in my cancer recovery, I began visiting my friend Randa’s coffee shop at Wyong for a chat and coffee each Sunday. It helped break up a big week in many ways. And after that I would visit the river somewhere along the way to stop, watch and note its changes. Porters Creek Bridge was/is a special place for me.

Noticing Nature:

Everywhere I went!

from trees to plants and even animals in the fields….

Before cancer, there were often places of reflection and using mindfulness to be more present. After cancer they served me well as familiar touch stones. We may be headed back to Sydney’s northwest, but the memories of here will hold me in good stead.

I also have great connections to the places such as Rouse Hill Town Centre, which I saw built and visited many times until 2015.

Now, the growth of nature there is so beautiful, and I am looking forward to the best connections of all…people…when I return. I already have one friend meeting me for coffee there in 2023!!

And of course..nothing better than to be able to connect with our family with greater ease and less distance to travel too.

And I am quite expecting  that this ‘back to’ will also be a transition too. I sure know that for myself. The past few weeks have been about preparing for some downsizing of donating furniture and giving other items away too. It’s ALL GOOD as they say!!

I am very grateful to have put in many of the experiences into my life to help me manage life as someone with cancer, then after having cancer removed…and making changes to my life going forward…aged 67 to 72.

I hope my story is of interest and that you too may have places that you find help you too.

 

Denyse.

 

Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share over the weekend. (Publishing before then, on Wednesday 29 June 2022.)

Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

 

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‘Being Me’ In The Month That Was May. 35/2022.

‘Being Me’ In The Month That Was May. 35/2022.

Since I decided to join in this link up each month, I am also adding my post for ‘the month that was’…and what a month it turned out to be!

MAY 2022

Word Of the Year Link Up Party.

Joining in with these kind bloggers:

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

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

Look for this image, and add your post.

Those who follow this blog, and know me from either on-line conversations or in real life, will know that my highest (in terms of importance) value in life is ‘honesty’. And that has seen me make some choices to live better with ME!!

I guess another way of putting it, is to be ‘true to myself’.

I have been blogging for well over 11 years and seen so much change in this time. I have always reflected on what I want my blog and me to represent and along with honesty, comes vulnerability, truth telling and giving thanks.

So BEing ME has meant some reflection and change making…

Saw a recent Instagram hashtag  about ageing and owning up by #speakingyourage (words to that effect) and I have never been someone to hide my age…so this is something I do easily. Here:

 

And then just this week, to be honest, the work that was having a blog link up suddenly (or maybe stealthily) was not anything I wanted to do any more. I could have been someone who soldiered on, but that’s not me either. So, without anything else to add, here is the message to my blogging community…..

Well, now what has that meant for BEing ME?

A few changes within and they feel good.

I have reduced my in-person involvement with Head and Neck Cancer Australia and feel better for this.

I have decided to blog when I want to…and there have been examples of this recently.

I am allowing myself to feel uncomfortable too as changes like these are made. Instead of the old thinking of must get everyone’s approval I am being my own best friend and remembering what I REALLY want to do and be…and again, it’s part of my value system.

MAY MEMORIES.

FIVE years on from my cancer diagnosis was always going to be remembered and celebrated! I added a memento in the form of a bracelet with hearts on 17 May 2022 at 9.35 am. And wrote a post here. 

 

The feelings and experiences here are part of why I am very grateful to be well…following 5 years of recovering from a rare oral cancer…and I make the very most of all the in-person connections we can have with family. We had a lovely catch up here after 4 months.

Our son’s 4. We cared for these kids for years…sadly not Miss in heart top as she was born after we left Sydney.

Then there is this photo which means so much for my healthy recovery and emotional connections. Our four grandkids visited me just after surgery #1 (the big one) in August 2017, so I asked them to do a re-creation with me in May 2022. Love this!!

And that will do for now. I have been to see Dad in Dee Why twice in May and am enjoying the frank chats and helpful conversations we both have to better understand and appreciate each other and our similarities and differences. No more photos from him though. Fair enough! And no, he does not want to live to 100…..I get that.

How was your month of May..not quite finished of course…

And are you  using a word or words in 2022 like I am?

Denyse.

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My A-Z. Taking Stock. 5 Years. #HNC. #LifesStories. 34/2022.

My A-Z. Taking Stock. 5 Years. #HNC. #LifesStories. 34/2022.

This is my first Taking Stock post in 2022 and I am taking the chance to recount the “adventure” that has been having had oral cancer, a form of head and neck cancer, for 5 years.

Here is mine. And the new-to-me logo and the list is at the end of the post for copying if you choose, along with this image being in the side bar of the blog.

 

But first, a story that is funny. Well, at least “I” think so.

When I saw the kind blogger Deb from here: Debs World paying tribute to my version of Taking Stock recently I was chuffed. Deb has been doing Taking Stock, the traditional one from Pip Lincolne , found here, along with my new-to-some A-Z version. I checked my list of prompts out, and the image I had on the blog…..and counted: 1 to 22…ummm there ARE still 26 letters in the alphabet, Denyse…so, oops, I have now amended!

And as I am off to see Dad again today in Sydney, I will be back to read and comment later.

2017 to 2022. Taking Stock of my Head & Neck Cancer. 

admiring the amazing ways in which my head and neck cancer team reconstructed inside my mouth

becoming more at ease now with the idea that my five years since diagnosis and surgeries and all are coming to an end in September 2022 at my final surveillance visit to my head and neck cancer team

curious to see how my continued mouth and prosthesis checks will go each 6 months for the rest of my life I am told

delighted that, in the course of head and neck cancer journey I have made many new friends and connected with them virtually or in real life so we support each other

excited to see my Professor Jonathan Clark AM and his surgical Nurse Assistant Cate Froggatt in September but 

feeling quite emotional as it will be my last ever surveillance check with them at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse

going is a useful word to use post cancer recoveries because I always say “I am going well” …covers a myriad of possible answers but requires little response because quite honestly, HOW MUCH do I really want to tell people..not a lot. I fear it may not be 

helping me or them to be perfectly honest because in the end sometimes a polite response is the best

imploring those who follow me to get a mouth check at each 6 monthly dental visit. Please do get to your dentist every 6 months. And also, see your GP about any suspicious pain/lumps/bumps too:

See here, and at the end of this post….

 

joking at times is an Aussie way of dealing with some really tough times isn’t it? We tend to play down what we find the most threatening. I admit, I was told, now I realise it was a joke, four years on, that when I got my upper prosthesis (teeth attached to the jaw that was made for me from my leg), that I couldn’t leave till I bit into an apple. Seriously. Nah, it wasn’t and no I cannot even do that these days….

knowing I was in the best place for me with the best people possible for my cancer filled me with both hope and confidence. Always.

loving that I could always get my surgeon into a selfie with me at our visits…

Prof Jonathan Clark AM.

making the most of my understanding of good health nutritionally as well as enjoying the food I can actually eat by paying attention to my health professionals after the first BIG surgery because they knew more than I did.

Ready….for the video made for head and neck cancer Australia with me sharing what I had learned from the dietitian.

next is to note how very proud I am to have come through such challenging health times (they were!) and yet I know now so much more about myself as a woman of strength and courage that may not have come about as they have…

observing that there is a fine line between being grateful for life lessons (this was a major one) and also that it has been so fortunate too that my cancer is as I understand it rare of rare (thanks Prof JC) and unlikely to return

posting on the blog has been a great way in which to let me share my feelings and experiences and also for others to support and cheer me on, and it is now a bank of posts under this heading for others looking for head and neck cancer information

questioning that this cancer is so not known and yet it is very much more common than realised, and many people die of a head and neck cancer because symptoms may have been ignored or dismissed by a medical or dental professional, so it’s why I continue to share, and hopefully a person …

reading this or a tweet or a facebook update may have information that is relevant to them or someone they know

staying  vigilant about my mouth care. I need to see my regular dentist every 6 months and the prosthodontist in Sydney too

trying to be less head and neck cancer focussed in my day to day life, which is why, when I became somewhat burnt out last year doing too much physically and emotionally sharing HNC news, that my…

understanding G.P., husband and CEO of HANCA were very kind in helping me see that I could still help and have some roles but no longer in person

viewing my images. I remain pretty obsessed with my changing face, smile and mouth over the years.

2017. July Major Surgery. Nov Day Surgery

2018. Day Surgeries: Feb & May. Upper Prosthesis August.

welcoming the ways in which people who don’t know about my oral cancer story can be informed more if they show some interest

X – you choose and mostly they do, and with my education love at the heart of what I do I am always there to say,

yes what would you like to know more about

Z – you choose and if there is no interest of course, I am respectful of that person. And, I sip my double shot small latte quietly!

Love this again: coffee sitting at a cafe. 2021.

Sunday 22 May, at Porter’s Creek I made this little 13 second video of gratitude:

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/WlluRTC6OhM

 

 

That’s my Take for Taking Stock.

Here is the list for anyone who would like to try it.

  • admiring
  • becoming
  • curious
  • delighted
  • excited
  • feeling
  • going
  • helping
  • imploring
  • joking
  • knowing
  • loving
  • making
  • next
  • observing
  • posting
  • questioning
  • reading
  • staying
  • trying
  • understanding
  • viewing
  • welcoming
  • X – you choose
  • yes
  • Z – you choose

Thank you for reading, commenting and also linking up a blog post if you had the chance!

Denyse.

Denyse Whelan Blogs Is a Community

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Denyse Whelan.

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What Is 17 May All About? #HNC. 5 Years. 32/2022.

What Is 17 May All About? #HNC. 5 Years. 32/2022.

It’s 17th May 2022 as I write.

I wasn’t planning a post but this date “made me do one”.

It’s because 17 May 2017 was a hugely significant day in my life, as it was the day I was told I had squamous cell carcinoma in my upper gums.

The story has been told in a few places, here for the first post,  by me, but today I want to use pictures more than words!

Marking the time I knew I had cancer.

 

My progress: 2017 into 2019

 

2019: 2 years ‘reward’

And going to Sydney to see Hamilton as my 4th year ‘reward’…very special:

 

Each May, I have both remembered and because of my relatively good progress with recovering from this form of cancer I had, I like to appreciate my teams and my healing body too. And to my husband and family and friends (on-line and off!) : you all help my healing with your kindness, love and care. Thank you.

And now: 5 years on.

I admit it feels somewhat surreal. Perhaps I couldn’t ever see it coming? No matter, it has arrived. I am here. I am very glad to be well. Here’s my photos from today: Tuesday 17 May 2022.

Special way to remember:

The word ‘heart’ means a great deal to me after using the song, Heart, as part of my self-care and courage building on my many, many drives to and from Westmead for long stays in the chair…and of course, heart is connection to those I love, and who love me…and the universal message of love is about caring.

My ‘gift’ to me is this: a bracelet with links of hearts and infinity symbol because love is forever….

Thank you to everyone from my heart.

Denyse.

17.05.2022.

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

Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

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