Wednesday 4th August 2021

Woman Of Courage #65. Denyse Whelan & Head & Neck Cancer. 92/2021.

Woman Of Courage #65. Denyse Whelan & Head & Neck Cancer. 92/2021.

In July 2021 The Women of Courage posts will be connected in some way to World Head and Neck Cancer Month (July) and the #WHNCD Day on 27 July 2021. Those who have followed my blog since 2017 know I was diagnosed with a rare Head and Neck Cancer in my upper gums and under the top lip. More here.

Two years ago… I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

This woman of courage story is making a change because it’s about me.

The changes are because I have written many updates about my head and neck cancer story and they can all be found here.

And when I first started the series back in 2019 I did write a post about being a woman of courage (not numbered)  but did not make it about head and neck cancer, instead making it about my sudden departure from my career as a primary school principal. That took a lot of courage. The post is here.

What have you faced in your life, with head and neck cancer,  where you have had to be courageous?

  • I have needed often to remember that I have been frightened, fearful and scared before quite a few of the surgeries and…
  • afterwards I know that by calling on my skills and experiences from the past, I get through them.
  • It doesn’t mean I am fearless…not at all, but I can now, because of previous experiences, have great confidence that things for me will go OK. Not always well but OK.
  • I also had (and still do) an enormous amount of trust in my professional team.
  • Both my husband and I knew and felt that from Day 2 of diagnosis, when I met my Professor and his associate, along with visiting Chris O’Brien Lifehouse where I would have my surgery.
  • I was nervous about the upcoming surgery (the big one which would take the cancer and reconstruct my mouth with part of my leg) but I never ever wanted to do anything differently.
  • I feel exactly the same over 4 years later.

 

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

  • Interestingly getting told I had  squamous cell carcinoma found in my upper gums and under one lip actually was more of a relief than a shock.
  • Surprised by that?
  • Well, I had no answers to what was happening inside my mouth for around a year and it was not until I, along with my dentist, decided (I really really had to find courage for this!) that all the teeth attached to the upper bridge in my mouth needed removal.
  • The skills via meditation, reading and learning from both my husband ( a counsellor in training, then), my psychologist and my GP came to the fore.
  • It was never easy and it sometimes needed drugs. The OK ones. But I did it.
  • Everything that challenged my thoughts I stood up to with these words: ‘I do hard things’

 

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

  • There is something in each of us that perhaps we are not aware of on a conscious level but that we can call upon when faced with life changing news.
  • In my case it was the news I had a rare and unusual cancer in my mouth.
  • I learned that there are experts who can guide me and help me.
  • I also learned not to use Dr Google as they say.
  • For me, once I had made up my mind my team knew its thing, I was right.
  • It did not mean I was leaving everything up to them!
  • I was proactive in finding out what to expect.
  • One of the doctors was kind enough to answer my questions via email.
  • I only had to ask. Never be afraid to ask!
  • I also prepared myself physically (not in a fitness way because I am not like that by nature) by using the time before my surgery to do some cooking for the freezer once I was home, and having practical items like clothing etc I could use in hospital.
  • I am a planner and organiser by nature so I did the parts the patient could do, whilst my team of doctors, surgeons, prosthodontists, nurses and so on did theirs.

 

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

  • Yes I am and I do.
  • I have applied so much of the experience of having faced the diagnosis of head and neck cancer and what it meant for me using aspects of exposure therapy.
  • I face what I am afraid of and do things in incremental ways.
  • I learned this to face the extraction of the teeth and bridge back in April 2017 and it built my confidence in small ways.
  • I also had the chance to take some risks which previously (in the years 2015-early 2017) I was too fearful to try: including going as a passenger in the car with my husband driving, driving to Sydney, going to appointments.
  • Each of these, I did with my husband for all of 2017 – often I was physically unable to as my leg was recovering from its surgery too and into 2018 when one day, I said…
  • “I am taking myself to Westmead today”. I knew the drive, I love my car and I was ready to do this. I did. And from that time I have driven myself to Westmead Oral Sciences. for many treatments (that’s the generic name for my sessions at the prosthodontist)
  • I have, of course, been driven by my husband for all four of my surgeries. He also brought me to a cancer check last September as I was unable to drive post wound surgery.

 

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

  • You might surprise yourself.
  • Do not under estimate your human qualities and abilities.
  • I also support getting some help as well.
  • We often need some more counselling AFTER a major life event so do make sure you see someone who helps with that. I am seeing a psychologist again too.
  • Don’t think you have to do anything alone.
  • There is always someone who just might understand and there may be support services too.

 

Head and Neck Cancer Australia – formerly Beyond Five – is a huge resource for patients, families, carers, and professionals to become more informed and aware of Head and Neck Cancer. My blog posts, since my diagnosis in May 2017, were of interest to my head and neck surgeon and his nurse when I spoke about them at one of my appointments and as a result of expressing interest in helping and having an informal interview, I was offered the role of Ambassador for Head and Neck Cancer Australia. This is my 5th year of recovery from head and neck cancer and my 4th year of being on board the team at H.A.N.C.A.  with other Ambassadors. It is a privilege to give back.

In writing the stories of Women of Courage, these women, all with Head and Neck Cancer affecting them, contributed their stories here. Thank you to them all.

Maureen Jansen.

Her story is here.

Tara Flannery.

Her story is here.

Julie McCrossin AM.

Her story is here.

Yvonne McClaren.

Her story is here.

Cosette Calder.

Her story is here.

Anne Howe.

Her story is here.

Thank you too, to all those who read and comment on my blog posts. It make a difference to knowing I am supported and cared for and about.

3 Year Difference. July 2018-July 2021.

Denyse.

My stories and photos along with suggested links and websites must not be seen as medical advice. I write this blog from my experience as a head and neck cancer patient. Words from others are accordingly from their personal experience and not to be taken as nutritional advice. Seek what you might need from qualified health professionals  who understand the needs of cancer patients.  Denyse Whelan. 2021.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

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Women of Courage Third Series Is Here in 2021. 59/2021.

Women of Courage Third Series is Here in 2021. 59/2021.

Two years ago….around this time of year, I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

Many of you know I have had the experience of a cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery and I am aware I had to garner a lot of courage to come through much of what has happened. However in my  courage post  you will read something different where I believe I was courageous.

For those like me, who are interested in attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in 2021, here is the link to the website. I was fortunate to attend the first LIVE event earlier this year when Festival Director (and Woman of Courage #49 found here) Rosemarie interviewed former PM Julia Gillard.

 

All the women’s stories from Series One (2019) and Series Two (2020) are here. 

In the 2019 group, there were 24 women who used their names and one who was published anonymously at her request.

In the 2020 group, there were 25 women who went public with their stories and four who chose anonymity.

Total: 56 women’s stories shared! Jane’s and mine did not carry a number.

First post in 2021 will be Woman of Courage #54.

I am excited, interested and curious about these stories from real life…and  now so grateful to be sharing women in a third series.

I hope you are too. I have asked over 20 women to date  who said yes, and have five responses so far which go live each Thursday after today….

There is always room for more, so if you would like to share, email me! denyse@ozemail.com.au or tell me in the comments.

 

I asked the first Woman of Courage, Sam if she wished to share any updates for her first post, found here,

And she replied “happy to leave it as is”….but “I have a new photo” and this, dear readers, is Teddy Roosevelt, who is already a STAR on Sam’s Blog found here. Thank you both!

 

And again from my first post…these words from Brene Brown.

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognise the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.” 

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” 

“The willingness to show up changes us, It makes us a little braver each time.” 

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” 

Last year I began listening to Brene Brown here on her podcasts. She has two. I have checked out both from time to time, learning more and being inspired by other women of courage and some of  her guests are also from all genders and walks of life.

Next Thursday, 20th May, I welcome Woman of Courage #54 to this blog community for her to share her story.

See you all then too, I hope.

Denyse.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

 

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Learning More About My Country, Australia. 11/2021.

Learning More About My Country, Australia. 11/2021.

As I write this post for sharing tomorrow, it is 26 January 2021, Australia Day. I ask that you read the highlighted areas below before going on.

 

 

Content within is about Indigenous Australians and there may be readers affected by images or references of people who have died. In this case, please be aware.

And, I appreciate content here may be for some readers, controversial or they may hold strong views which are not in keeping with the learning I am doing as I share. In this case, it is recommended that you do scroll on and perhaps not comment. I remind you that I can delete comments if not in keeping with my blog’s purpose. Thank you for your understanding. Denyse.

 

 

For much of my life, 26th January,  has been known to me as day of commemoration. It’s when a flotilla of English Boats led by Captain Arthur Phillip arrived in Sydney Harbour in 1788 and claimed it ‘as a territory of England’ …or words to that effect. The boats were manned by sailors and many had convicts aboard who would be prisoners in this colonial outpost of Mother England where gaols were filling. The stories of this are many, and I leave them to your research and interest.

What I have known for some time, however, is this. Australia’s east coast, where Captain Cook had landed in 1770 and declared it a place for habitation and settlement, was already populated.

There were indigenous Australians: Aboriginal people, had come from many places from the north, to make different parts of our wide brown land….home.

Today, 26 January 2021 I was delighted to see two flags representing Australia flying. We “still” do not have the best or perfect or representational flag but we do tend to see these two more and more.

Teacher Me Needs to Learn More.

Whilst I have known that I may have some Aboriginal heritage, and by appearance alone there are several members of my family, on Mum’s side who already could be claiming this. They are not. For their own reasons. Nothing by the way is verified as was often the case, because of the shame of Aboriginal heritage of yesteryear and the very real threat of children being taken ‘for their own good’ by church groups and welfare.

I have been, for the past few years, recognising my own likely heritage and wanting to learn more and accept what it is for me.

Books and Stories.

Many sites have books and resources. This is but one: https://koskela.com.au/blogs/news/25-books-on-indigenous-history-and-culture

I have read and listened to books by Stan Grant, June Winch and Bruce Pascoe.

One by Anita Heiss is a compilation of Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia. Others by Dr Marcia Langton.

I found this site and then bought the map I show here.

And I liked what I could learn about here.

About My History.

From the AIATSIS Map: I am adding place names for where I have lived and taught, then the Aboriginal Country or land name next to it.

Born over 70 years ago, in Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.

Wollongong 1949-1959. Tharawal country.

 

With “my’ Papa. It is his line of heritage that we believe is of Aboriginal descent. South Coast N.S.W.

Sydney: 1959-1969. Eora country.

Specifically: Balgowlah Heights, close to Manly, a first place named in the early days of the Colony for the Aboriginal Men’s appearance. Near my then home is Arrabanoo Lookout, named for an Aboriginal person. Right next to Tania Park, Dobroyd.

Barraba, 1970 North Western N.S.W.: Kamilaroi country.

Just up the road to school!

Maules Creek, Boggabri, 1971-1972.  North Western N.S.W.: Kamilaroi country.

Merriwagga, South Western N.S.W.1973-1975 & Hillston. Wiradjuri country.

Weilmoringle, Far North Western N.S.W. 1976-1977. Muruwari country.

Where Our Daughter Started School & we were her teachers.

Kellyville, north-western area of Sydney. 1978-1993. Bella Vista 1994-1998. Glenwood 1998-2015. Dharug Country

Schools where I taught and lead:

Cherrybrook P.S. 1978.

Jasper Road P.S. Baulkham Hills, 1978-1982.

Walters Road P.S. Blacktown,  1983-1984.

Seven Hills West P.S., 1985-1987.

Shalvey P.S. 1988-1998

Rooty Hill P.S. 1998

Richmond P.S. 1999-2003.

Kellyville Ridge P.S. 2004-2010.

Hebersham P.S. 2007

  • In each of the schools above there were and are, students of Aboriginal heritage and who identify as Aboriginal. The majority are from the schools I have marked by highlighting in black. The other schools would definitely have some but nowhere near the numbers from the others.

 

  • What is significant now, and even in some of the years I was a member of that school community is the identification of students and the assistance, where required given that can boost learning and more. There are likely to be people from the local indigenous groups working with students and staff in the school to have a better understanding of history, language and needs.

 

  • I assisted in the establishment of Aboriginal community groups within our local schools’ communities, supporting them as needed until independence was established. It meant the ownership and actions lay with the local community representatives.

 

  • Some of these people, through other agencies and groups, were appointed to school selection panels to approve employment of people in teaching and leading who were, by their estimation, deemed to have understanding of and commitment to the Aboriginal education policies of the employer.

 

  • In 1976-1977, Weilmoringle P.S. was already doing this. My husband, the teaching principal, and I was the second teacher and we had an Aboriginal person as teaching assistant. The community also helped us (as we did them) with cultural understanding, and more. Now, I see some decades later, the school continues to thrive and those same families are continuing to help the kids of the school, and their community.

Where We Live Now. Northern end of N.S.W. Central Coast. Darkinjung country.

I know something about the place where we live now. I know the first peoples used the river and the sea to feed themselves and the bush around them to have shelter. I know too, that I need to learn more and I am committed to doing so via more local research and understanding.

I think, as a senior Australian citizen, I not only want to do this but need to. Ignorance should no longer be an excuse.

I do not have a firm view on changing of the Australian flag at this point, as I see my English and Scottish history within. I would like the way in which we come together as Australians of all kinds to be inclusive and understanding. Will it happen in my life time? I am not sure. I know my daughter will be definitely hoping it happens in hers and that of her children.

I shall see.

I hope to be better educated.

We shall be respectful of each other as change occurs.

Have you noticed what I have written here at the base of my blog?

If you can see the areas on the maps, can you find, if you are from this area, where your country is and what it’s called?

Denyse.

Denyse wishes to acknowledge the Darkinjung people as Traditional Custodians of the land on which this blog is written.

Linking up with Leanne here for Lovin’ Life on Thursday.

Joining in with Weekend Coffee Share with Natalie here on the weekend.

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I Have Never. 41/51 #LifeThisWeek. 82/2020.

I Have Never. 41/51 #LifeThisWeek. 82/2020.

How to respond to this? I am doing it under  headings…. let’s see how this works.

I Have Never:

Been

  • in a physical fight.
  • a particularly brave person.
  • into a nightclub.
  • on a bar/pub hop.
  • into getting into drinking…ever.

 

Eaten

  • any offal. at all. intentionally or unintentionally.
  • dishes from other countries of origin – not an adventurous eater. Fried rice and pizza is my limit. Not together.
  • spiced anything. Chilli…noooo
  • a full menu from a restaurant: entree, mains, dessert for a very, very long time. In fact I wonder how I ever did!
  • something that might be ‘dodgy’ for example, use by date is passed.

 

Done

  • much that is brave or adventurous in some people’s eyes at all.
  • any type of sewing other than a button onto a shirt or maybe a small hem adjustment. By hand. Never a machine.
  • any true labour in the sense of manual labour. Some gardening maybe and some house cleaning. That’s it.
  • anything to deliberately harm anyone
  • much at all to dissuade anyone from being who they are. I really think that is true. I hope so anyway.

 

Found

  • someone who is a liar and then remain friends with them.
  • gold in ‘them thar hills’.
  • peace that is ever-lasting.
  • the above is impossible because we constantly change and grow.
  • bitching about anyone and anything is actually healthy.

 

Seen

  • a sunset at the beach in Australia.
  • a blue fairy wren in the bush.
  • any iguana/dragon/large bearded lizard in real life I hope I never do.
  • someone after they  have died.
  • Some states of Australia: Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania & Northern Territory.

 

Had

  • a true broken heart.
  • the desire to have an affair.
  • all my hair cut off.
  • radiotherapy and chemotherapy and hope to keep it that way.
  • the chance to travel to the UK thanks to no dollars and no planes anyway these days!

Interesting to me is the fact that I am, from this small sampling, a conservative and definitely not adventurous person ….ah well. To each her/his own.

I did have a think and I have to add examples of doing/being where some others may find they have not. I am fine with public speaking, and leading a school, along with travelling solo by driving to events away from home.

What have you never?

Denyse.

Link Up 210

Life This Week. Link Up #210

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Head & Neck Cancer: My Life Now: 3 Years On. 41.1/2020.

Head & Neck Cancer: My Life Now: 3 Years On. 41.1/2020.

In April 2017, after much searching for “why” my upper gums and palate were so sore, swollen and inflamed, I insisted that my dentist “take the bridge and teeth out, please as…I need to know what is under it.” That was done after almost 3 years of “wondering why” and being told many different reasons by dentists that it was most likely candida and “you are not keeping under the bridge clean enough. Sigh. This story can be found here along with many as I have journaled the Head and Neck Cancer story here on the blog.

On 17 May 2017, after the removal of bridge and teeth, with worsening gum conditions, I received what was, in many ways, the answer I feared or at least had considered over the past year or  more before. Yes, it is CANCER and it is called Squamous Cell Carcinoma and off I was sent to the BEST place and people ever for more diagnosis, subsequent surgeries and much much more.

 

Summing up each year as a head and neck cancer patient with a rare diagnosis. 

2017.

May & June: Meeting my surgeons at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. Examinations, testing and discussion on maxillectomy and using part of my leg. Visits to Westmead Oral Sciences for future mouth reconstruction preparation. Waiting. Testing. Being very concerned but at least I had the answer!

July: 7 weeks after diagnosis the major surgery of 11 hours. ICU and then recovery in single room at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. This was for 10 days. Learned that I recover well and that I could speak (hallelujah) and eventually swallow water with no problems. Home. Learning to live much differently. Back for checkups: particularly of my leg which had donated skin and flesh.

August: September: October: at home recovery, lots of community nurse visits, learning how for eat differently and prepare food for myself. Independent walking then became driving the car again Back for a post-op check and to hear what was next.

November: On the day the same sex marriage result was announced I went into surgery for more skin to be added inside my mouth: taken from my thigh. It was all part of hopefully allowing my mouth to eventually settle to take a prosthesis of teeth.

It was announced I would become a Community Ambassador for Beyond Five.

December: watching progress of mouth and sending photos of the inside to my lovely Professor Clark for him to see it was going OK. Always relieved to hear back ‘yes.’

2018.

January: continue as for December.

February: third surgery. Adding a stent into the top part of my mouth to allow skin to stretch and eventually be able to fit in the prosthesis of teeth. Alas, this failed as the stent was removed too fast by my prosthodontic team much to my professor’s dismay and…..

March: I got the news a fourth surgery would be happening. Initially not happy at all, but realised it was inevitable…and my mouth was particularly challenging as they try so hard to work with ‘what is’ to have me look as much as possible as I did post any head and neck surgeries.

April: more time for me to see the prosthodontist to check the healing mouth and for my team to consider what would be next.

May: almost 12 months from diagnosis, back to COBLH as I call it for short….and a much bigger stent added in another 2+ hour surgery. Wow. Thigh gave up more skin for inside my upper lip.

June. July: So many drives back and forth to Sydney for prosthodontic work: measuring, practising with models of prosthesis with the eventual promise of teeth up top…..

World Head & Neck Cancer Day: July 2018. Held a virtual Soup for the Soul a fundraiser for Beyond Five and met the Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support Group at Gosford and became a member of this group.

21 August; Yes. Upper prosthesis fixed into the abutments and I had a smile back (a good one too, thank you team) after 14 months.

From then until next year, 2019, I had a considerable number of visits back to Westmead with adjustments and I learned ‘how to eat’ with teeth that were nothing like how my mouth had been post-cancer. More on the page as linked before.

2019.

January. An unexpected visit to COBLH for my head and neck surgeon to examine ‘extra skin’ which had begin to grow near the abutments on one side. This visit, as I found out directly was to ensure “cancer had not returned”. OH. It had not but it threw me a bit because I had not even given that a thought. This was when I realised CANCER is never far away from our thoughts.

February, March, April: some visits to both professionals in my team. Making adjustments and checking progress of skin inside my mouth. I admit I was often nervous of outcomes as my mouth was pretty sore most of the time. No-one could tell me ‘how long’ that would last but I continued to be reassured by my prosthodontist in particular “everything looks OK” “you are doing a good job keeping the area clean.”

May: 2 years since diagnosis and I was proud to have made it. I was incredibly grateful to my body for healing well and to all who cared for me and in particular to my patient and good listener husband.

End May: CT scan showed “all clear”

June: Visits became more spread out to the surgeon and prosthodontist and I navigated using these teeth to eat. It was and is a challenge. My right leg had some changes from the loss of the fibula as my right foot became affected with gait. But all OK really.

July: Continued visits to Westmead and put my energies into blogging about Head and Neck Cancer, interviewing a patient for Beyond Five and being part of World Head and Neck Cancer Day at Gosford Cancer Centre.

August, September, October, November, December. Regular check ups and visits to COBLH and Westmead but longer intervals. In October it was raised by my surgeon that a possible fifth surgery could be planned if mouth needed it but he had no real plans for it at that stage. Continuing to help raise awareness of head and neck cancer in various forms via social media. In November I celebrated my 70th Birthday!

 

2020.

January: continuing own care and progress at home.

February: visit to the prosthodontist where he was pleased with how upper gums were looking. I admitted to him my concern there may be need for further surgery as outlined by my surgeon and he took photos and would confer with him as needed. Took part in filming for Beyond Five series of nutrition videos for head and neck patients, carers and professionals.

Early March: Saw my head and neck surgeon who was delighted with my progress, no surgery needed and I remain “his poster girl for recovery”…see you in 6 months!! I was a guest speaker at a Charity Ball held by 4 doctors at Avoca to raise awareness of head and neck cancer and aid the work of Beyond Five with a generous donation.

And then COVID-19 stopped us all in our tracks for quite some time.

End May: as I write. My prosthodontist should have seen me for a check this coming week but Westmead is not open for regular visits yet. I am not concerned as my mouth is OK. I am not due to see my head and neck surgeon till September. I am going to my dentist here (the one where we got the diagnosis sorted!) in early June as he ensures the 8 teeth I have remain in good order.

Record Keeping: For Me!
Visits to Prof Jonathan Clark: Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. 2 hours each way by car. M1.
2017
Diagnosis: 17.5.17.
18.5.17 (diagnosis: surgery plan w A/Prof too)
6.7.17 (surgery #1 in COBLH)
27.717 (post op: A/Prof)

10.10.17 (cancer check)
15.11.17 (surgery #2: day. Down & home same day)
20.11.17 (post op)
5.12.17 (post op St George)

2018
7.2.18 (surgery #3: day. Stayed night before)
14.2.18 (post op St George)
1.5.18 (pre surgery #4)
16.5.18 (surgery #4 day. Stayed n/b)
2.10.18 (cancer check & upper prosthesis)
– long time between checks as I was seeing Prosthodontist a lot!

2019
8.1.19 extra cancer check: skin growing ok
19.2.19 cancer check
21.5.19 cancer check & CT done. All clear.
24.9.19 cancer check

2020
3.3.20 cancer check.

17 total to date.

Next due: September 2020.

Visits to Westmead Prosthodontist. 2 hours each way by car. M1.

2017  24.5.17 (pre surgery #1)30.5.17 6.11.17 (pre surgery #2)

2018  23.2.18 (post surgery #3) 1.3.18  7.3.18  15.3.18

22.3.18 28.3.18 12.4.18  28.5.18 (post surgery #4) 31.5.18

12.6.18  15.6.18  18.6.18  25.6.1  3.7.18   10.7.18   16.7.18

23.7.18   6.8.18   9.8.18

21.8.18: Upper Prosthesis Issued

28.8.18  10.9.18   25.9.18 8.10.18 (lower denture prep)  25.10.18

5.11.18  15.11.18  19.11.18  27.11.18   11.12.18

2019  21.1.19 (unscrewed UP)  4.3.19

13.5.19  16.7.19  5.8.19

17.9.19    25.11.19

2020 17.2.20  41 to date  Due: 25.5.20 (postponed due to COVID

What is life like for me now as a head and neck cancer patient…over 3 years later?

  • I think about my cancer less
  • I maintain my cleaning of the mouth more willingly and never miss it because I would hate the spoil all that hard work!
  • I accept that whilst I have ‘teeth’ on top that look fine, they do not function nearly as well as natural teeth.
  • I know how to allow for that more these days in terms of food choices.
  • I am more grateful than ever to have had such a cancer experience so that I can share, help and be part of a community which may need assistance from a patient like me
  • I am less fearful of cancer’s return but I am never complacent
  • I do my best to help others who may find my story helpful
  • I blog less than those initial 2 years but maintain the updates about head and neck cancer as it is for me
  • I connect with others on-line to encourage, share and offer support where it may be needed
  • I like to help where I can to keep the messages of head and neck cancer current
  • I do this via my social media and re-sharing words, links and information from Beyond Five
  • I maintain social media connections via a facebook group from New Zealand for head and neck cancer patients, carers and families
  • I am willing to share my story for others: meeting them, making a speech and connecting via emails and on-line

However, I am less the ‘head and neck cancer patient’ these days.

I am more Denyse, who is a retired K-6 principal and teacher, wife to B, mother to K & M, and Grandma to eight wonderful grandchildren. I remain passionate about education: of the self, and of kids…and support on-going education at any age. I love to connect via my blog, meet up for a coffee and cake, take photos to share on instagram, make art in all kinds of ways….and get outside to be “oh so thankful” to be here…to be well….and to share!

Denyse.

23 May 2020.

Written, in part,  in readiness for World Head and Neck Cancer Day in July 2020. Events this year will be virtual and I am sure, I will be sharing more as time goes on. For now:

 

 

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Last 51/51 #LifeThisWeek 2019. Thanks To All! New Prompts for 2020. 123/2019.

Last 51/51 #LifeThisWeek 2019. Thanks To All. New Prompts for 2020. 123/2019.

Life This Week.

This has been another great year for me as each of you kind and generous bloggers have linked up, on or off prompt. I haven’t got a best of or anything like that for numbers as I am about the stories we share, the connections we make and being here.

This is why I comment on each person’s post.

I am chuffed when you comment on mine and if  you too have the time to visit others’ posts to comment that IS being connected. Not everyone can and I don’t believe “If I link up I have to visit everyone.” No, that’s my role as host, so please link up when you can and share the news of this link up going into its 4th year.

After the link up closes each week and I have visited to comment,  I tweet so everyone sees who’s linked up.

The fact that you, and others return here to link up each Monday is something I really value.

T        H       A      N       K                 Y      O      U

 

It’s Nearly Christmas Day 2019.

Have you seen Santa yet? I started doing this in 2017 and this is my 2019 version. Santa Claus is getting younger! OK, I am getting older too.

Some of my recent Christmas related art.

In 2014 this sad but resigned woman (me!) knew she was experiencing the last of the family Christmases as she knew it. In fact, she was not even hosting as the house of almost 18 years residence was being packed up for the move to the Central Coast in early 2015. I tried to enjoy and take in every moment and memory to savour it.

We had said, too, that because of the distance from Sydney and needing to use the M1 we would not travel back to Sydney. It was practical. It made sense but emotionally it was, as I knew, much harder. Then, on Christmas Day 2015 my 3 older grandchildren dropped in! One had her licence and car and the secret was kept with my husband too. Oh. That was awesome. So appreciated. And our son and his family called in a day or two later on their way home from Christmas further north. In 2016 it was again a lovely  drop-in visit from the older kids (and later the younger GD and her Mum – our daughter) and we talked to the others by phone. In 2017 I was recovering from two surgeries and of course “wanted to celebrate” but it was challenging so we sent off cards and some money to all.

Then in 2018 “We” hosted Christmas here for our daughter and her four. That was great fun, me getting back into my Christmas mode.

What’s on this year? Never say never…we are driving to Sydney – I have overcome so much of my fear of this kind of thing…as people who have read here for years – dropping into our son’s to see his four kids (we have sent gifts via Aust Post earlier) and then to our daughter’s for Lunch. And, ahem, I have been doing some Christmas shopping after a few years. Just for the “kids” and for the traditions to stay alive! They will love it too.

Christmas Cupcakes for all!

Back in 1999, we had two granddaughters….and I talked their grandfather into getting into more outside Christmas decorations. This board – of Santa and his reindeer (with 2 teddies – one for each girl here) is still going strong: at their mum’s house.

Here’s a recent photo of our two eldest granddaughters: thanks for being the best and most fun ever girls…See you Chrissy Day!

In her Papa’s arms is GD on left…and birthday girl (today) is the person who made us “Grandma and Papa”.

Next Year. Life This Week Optional Prompts.

The first week back in 2020 is Monday 6 January and the title for that post is below.

Then, in an effort to be clever…(ha) I have added the next 9 prompts.

There is a message in the prompts somewhere indicating what my word for 2020 is.

1/51 Word/Intention for 2020 6.1.2020

2/51 Good News 13.1.2020

3/51 Remember This 20.1.2020

4/51 Australia 27.1.2020

5/51 T: Time to Share Your Snaps #1. 3.2.2020

6/51 Interesting 10.2.2020

7/51 T: Telling Self-Care Stories #1. 17.2.2020

8/51 Unusual 24.2.2020

9/51 D: Day for Taking Stock #1. 2.3.2020

10/51 Excited To Share Your Snaps #2. 9.3.2020

Onward and into 2020.

I will continue to be blogging on Wednesdays too.

The Women of Courage series will resume on  Wednesday 5th February 2020…with a new photo: here it is!

I will be linking my Wednesday post to MidLife Share the Love Linky and on Thursdays Lovin Life Linky as well as Open Slather on Fridays..so I do hope all three return in 2020.

Looking forward to catching up with you all again next year. I hope whatever this holiday season is for you and yours that it is relaxing, fun and enjoyable. If it’s not, then it becomes a blog post…for telling later!

Cheers to you all.

Denyse.

Added: I do hope that you and yours stay safe and well over this Australian holiday period where temperature records are being broken and for most of Eastern Australia, especially my state of New South Wales, bush fires are exacting a huge toll.  Loss of pasture, forests, wildlife, over 800 dwellings and so sadly, as the time of writing, two lives of volunteer firefighters were lost in a vehicle accident on Thursday night after the truck collided with a fallen tree. For anyone wanting to donate to the NSW Rural Fire Service and/or to the funds being raised for these two men’s families, the link is here.

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

Next Week’s Year’s first weekly optional prompt is: 1/51 Word/Intention  6/01/20

 

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Gifts For Teachers. 46/51.#LifeTheWeek. 113/2019.

Gifts For Teachers. 46/51.#LifeTheWeek. 113/2019.

The end of the school year is nigh. Can I hear a YAY?

 

*teachers are exhausted…ask me how I know

*kids have had enough

*parents and carers….you tell me!

Some states have already commenced end of year holidays. Other still remain at school or at least the public schools are still operating.

Are you looking forward to:

  • No more early mornings.
  • No school lunches to pack.
  • No searching for a lost shoe/library book/hat/jacket/….despite the NAME being added

But wait, you also thought about getting a present for the class teacher or teachers didn’t you?

dreamstime_l_13165114-M-son-draw-150x225

I know there have been gift guides galore but if you want something directly from teachers..I have some here.

  • card or note is a great way to show appreciation
  • it is never “expected” to give a teacher a gift
  • Parents and children may decide that there is no reason for a gift or message & that’s fine too
  • Teachers who are parents had these thoughts about chocolate..some loved this, others said no thanks!

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  • personal notes, cards from parents and child ALWAYS a hit
  • gift vouchers up to $50 – NOT expected to be, UP to! There are limits for gifts under the Code of Conduct in NSW public schools. Check your school’s/system’s limits.
  • Popular ones include Myer, Target, Officeworks, Big W, Dymocks, ITunes, JB-HiFi…and more
  • homemade biscuits &  yummy treats.
  • stationery – many teachers are stationery-fans
  • A cup. A keep cup. Teachers are notorious cup-users. Maybe personalise it, but a lovely idea that gives and gives…

 

So, do you have some ideas or have you already sorted out what you are doing..if indeed you are!

I wrote parts of this post 3 years ago and not much has changed.

What I do see as a trend is that “wine” is the default gift. My view as someone who is not interested in “wine” per se is to leave alcohol out of the gift giving. Yet, more I see, I am in the minority. Maybe don’t assume wine or alcohol is liked or appreciated by all.

My go-to was always, if I could something I baked/made and a heartfelt card of appreciation. Always better too, if your child adds something that is a note of appreciation.

AND…

If you cannot afford a gift, do not stress. Please. Getting caught up in comparison at the school gate is not pleasant. No-one needs to know.

And, if your child’s teacher has not been one you wish to share a present with, do not.

No teacher expects a gift. Well, that was how it was when I was still in schools.

It’s almost a year since I received my ‘correct’ retirement medal from NSW Dept of Education. THAT was a gift and presentation I so appreciated.

Teacher and writer Polly Dunning wrote this on Sunday …food for thought about appreciation!

Back to you…did you make or buy a present for your teacher, your child’s teacher or maybe if you are a teacher, what did you receive?

Denyse.

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

Next Week’s optional prompt is: 47/51 Do You Celebrate “zero” Birthdays? 25/11/19

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Gratitude In My 70th Birthday Month*. 43/51 #LifeThisWeek. 107/2019.

Gratitude In My 70th Birthday Month*. 43/51 #LifeThisWeek. 107/2019.

Yes, dear blogger, “this” is the optional prompt *Your Favourite Book As a Child for this week but I have gone on another direction leading up to November.

Here’s more about why!

P.S. Favourite book as a child was definitely the Folk of the Faraway Tree (and its spin offs by Enid Blyton)

Having embraced the notion of turning 70 at the end of November, I wanted to make it a special one via my Instagram feed (which also goes to Facebook and Twitter) so

G R A T I T U D E 

is my go-to for expressing appreciation for my life…to date!

It’s now something I am far, far more aware of as a healing tool for me. I used to dismiss my husband’s “wise words” about gratitude as my head was not in the right space back in 2015- early 2017 to feel anything other than a far bit of fearBut, over time, and with a cancer diagnosis, I got more into understanding the need to express gratitude and to feel grateful. Two things…not just say, but actually feel.

The photos below have helped me remember gratitude. And to express it!

Earlier this year I wrote 4 posts in a series about gratitude which were part of my linking up with Min here for Zen Tips Tuesday.

Post One. Post Two. Post Three. Post Four.

Now for my birthday month, I am celebrating with an instagram post expressing my gratitude.

 

A good idea for coming up to 70 I think!

Celebrating love..and US. Grateful for over 49 years together.

 

 

I am suggesting if you wanted to follow along, and you are on Instagram (ask for follow, @denysewhelan1 if you don’t already), then these would be the hashtags:

#30daysofgratitude

#celebratelife

I am going to list a large number of prompts (I made it to 70!) and *my husband is referring to mine (as above!) with no order nor even suggesting how they are used.

It is up to you!

  • my husband*      nature      food      creativity       skills
  • kindness       health     simplicity      out & about 
  • colours     the sea   my life    friends    water
  • thought    change   life stage   travel    movement
  • connection   community    seen   felt   hearing
  • smelled    tasted   world   spirituality    art
  • photography     weather    seasons    social media
  • birthdays    blogging    freedom   recognition 
  • books   music    fun    time    coffee   
  • contentment    cake    singing    life    shopping
  • education    career   health professionals    study  
  • curiosity    relaxation   mindfulness   painting 
  • my country of origin    language   history   games
  • grass    air conditioning   my car   family
  • our children    our grandchildren   learning 
  • socialising    enough money   shelter   cancer treatments

Just in case you would like some inspiration too: A few pertinent quotes:

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” —Dalai Lama

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” —William Arthur Ward

We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean… and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect. – Michelle Obama

I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude. Brene Brown

source for all: Brainy Quotes.

Have you avoided, then changed your mind about celebrating a milestone birthday?

I admit I took some encouraging to get ‘with it’.

Denyse.

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

Next Week’s optional prompt is: 44/51 Colours I Love 4/11/19

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