Wednesday 25th November 2020

Two Years Ago. Head & Neck Cancer. October 2018. 85/2020.

Two Years Ago. Head & Neck Cancer.  October 2018. 85/2020.

For this week, one week ago, and the next week on Wednesday I am posting a ‘review’ blog post mostly to remind ME of how far I have come in terms of the changes brought about in my life thanks to the diagnosis of head and neck cancer on 17 May 2017. The whole story is here. 

Using some photos I am adding my memories from the time.

Here I go:

October 2018.

 

Early October 2018 and I was off to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse with a LOT to smile about. I received the long-anticipated upper prosthesis of teeth on 21 August 2018 – some 14 months after surgery.

  • It was a cancer check day but also a chance to meet with Nadia from then Beyond Five – now Head & Neck Australia to discuss my prospective Ambassadorship as a volunteer.
  • Photo – top left. Then briefly caught up with then then Specialist Head and Neck Cancer Nurse (top right)  who had last seen me as a very raw new-to-head and neck cancer patient in July 2017. She was stoked! My cancer check went very well indeed (bottom left) with smiles and congratulations all-round.
  • How good it must be for the Professor (Jonathan Clark AM) and his Nurse Surgical Assistant and Consultant (Cate) to see a patient post surgeries…yes, all 4 they were part of…and my much anticipated S M I L E.
  • Last photo is me with Gail O’Brien, the late Professor Chris O’Brien’s wife whose vision it was to have this wonderful comprehensive cancer centre built and to tell her how much I appreciated the work and vision of her late husband…he was a head and neck surgeon too and my surgeon trained with him.

 

 

School holidays in October 2018 saw two visits from our Sydney-based family.

  • Much appreciated as always.
  • We entertain casually for lunch with their favourite snacks and foods and much chatter is heard.
  • Often we go outside for a play even though our yard is very small.
  • On this occasion the four younger kids (left pic) took home a special pot with some items planted and some crystals along with a few old fave toys from our Sydney house…and their younger days.
  • With the older group there is often some reminiscing and music too, particularly as the older grandson is a DJ.
  • I felt so much more at ease now I had the teeth in my mouth. It still took quite a bit of getting used to for eating but it was much better than before!

 

 

I was interested in attending a Look Good Feel Better Cancer Patient Workshop and once my ‘teeth’ were in I happily took part in a local event.

  • I did get some good advice and took away a swag of amazing free products.
  • What left me feeling somewhat disappointed was the fact that my cancer is so rare and not known.
  • These workshops were pitched at breast cancer patients more than anyone.
  • Some needed help with using wigs and scarves, others with how chemotherapy had changed their skin/hair.
  • I guess I need(ed) to be more grateful because I was/am doing well.
  • I wonder as I write this if these activities have now been stopped because of COVID and that is a shame because it was psychologically very helpful to us to be ‘seen as a woman, not a patient.’

 

 

It was, and still is, important for my mental health to have something creative to do most days.

  • I liked the idea of holding a mindfulness colouring class at the local library. I did get to have it, but it took so much box-ticking, I left it as a one-off.
  • However, I know I enjoyed being ‘teacher’ again.
  • My months of making bookmarks for the charity The Big Hug Box were always enjoyable and I must have contributed well over 500.
  • They were individually constructed by me and sent in batches to Lisa for adding to the boxes.
  • In November 2018 I took part in a packing boxes day at her house and met other cancer patients.
  • One got me to design some mandalas for a colouring-card idea she had. I was pleased to share my creations.

 

 

 

About eating. And drinking. I remember pre-upper prosthesis having all kinds of thoughts about what foods I might try with teeth in my top gums.

  1. I admit now, 2 years on, that some of those foods were just not a success.
  2. You see, as it was explained to me by my lovely Nurse, Cate, my mouth has more inside it than a ‘normal mouth’ and it cannot do all that it did.
  3. My prosthodontist had added a partial denture of a tooth on each side to hook into my remaining natural teeth on the bottom and this helps hugely.
  4. Some meals I tried and could eat (and still do) are  above, even though the hot meals are likely to be over 2 nights.

 

 

Keeping up appearances…was very important.

  • This trend went right into 2019.
  • In 2020 I do this occasionally.
  • But in between treatments, visits to Sydney for cancer checks and more, dressing well and with purpose was/is very important.
  • More important than everything was I was finally able to (and definitely wanting to) meet up with friends again. Yay.

There it is. Snapshots to help me remember what life as a head and neck cancer patient was like in October 2018.

Denyse.

Linking up with Leanne (whose image appears in this post!)  here for Lovin Life Linky.

 

 

FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest
FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest

Three Years Ago. Head & Neck Cancer. October 2017. 83/2020.

Three Years Ago. Head & Neck Cancer. October 2017. 83/2020.

For this week and the next 2 weeks each Wednesday I am posting a ‘review’ blog post mostly to remind ME of how far I have come in terms of the changes brought about in my life thanks to the diagnosis of head and neck cancer on 17 May 2017. The whole story is here. 

Using some photos I am adding my memories from the time.

Here I go:

October 2017.

 

The way in which I recorded the times. My husband kindly took photos of me outside Chris O’Brien Lifehouse on the afternoon of our visit as a check-up in October 2017. It was the first time I had seen my head and neck surgeon since leaving hospital in July after the first major cancer removal and mouth reconstruction. Of course I brought cake! Cake is my appreciation gift to my medical and surgical professionals. What I see in ‘me’ is the way it was then. I had no way to smile and it was probably because of seeing photos like this that I finally went and brought properly fitted bras. Sigh. The photo of the drive back home over the Harbour Bridge is a great memory. One of relief too. However, glad I have this as we can no longer use iphones in cars without risk of huge fine.

 

 

 

Seriously I was gob-smacked at this image. WOW. My fibula, the shapes at the top, cut into 3 pieces and made into my new jaw by being attached with screws to under my cheekbone. The little dot-type images: one at the front, two on each side, five in all, are where the screws are embedded into my new jaw and which will, over time, hold the upper prosthesis I have now in place. This was so good to see however, as it showed just how clever my team is!

 

 

 

The first time I ventured down the M1 alone that October was for a very good reason. To meet up with my daughter and her two eldest daughters for morning tea at Hornsby Berkelouws. It is a favourite place to meet because it’s about an hour from our place and reasonably convenient for those who live in Sydney to meet up. I was still very new to what I might eat/drink but I managed a piccolo and a very small cake with icing. Lovely as always to see the family. I admit I was tired out. Pretty big deal only two + months since my big surgery.

 

 

 

Our daughter. Very proud of her. This lemon meringue pie – a firm family favourite – made ‘just for her’….to celebrate her completion of her Master of Education Teacher Librarianship. It’s pretty tough being a single mum to 4 and working generally full-time as a teacher and then teacher-librarian too. Not only that, she started a new school’s library. One book at a time. Many hundreds of times. Eventually to complete the last semester of the pretty gruelling regime to do a Masters on-line (and to keep her job) she took long service leave and “got the job done.” She and the four kids (3 are adults) joined her in the celebration of her achievement at Charles Sturt University Graduation Ceremony later in 2017.

 

 

 

In late October I decided I needed a ‘challenge’. A personal one. It seemed that I wanted to show off this new-to-me slimmer body and the enjoyment I was beginning to find in looking for clothes that actually fitted me. Of course, my weight loss was because 1. cancer and 2. I couldn’t eat properly but I was also not allowed to lose any more weight by my professional team. This instagram challenge took on a life of its own and over time I did this every.day. for many, many days as it helped me emotionally to see my improved look and demeanour despite the ravages of how my mouth had been reconstructed using part of my leg.

 

Glad to have shared this. I know long time readers may recall some of these images. Thanks for reading and commenting.

 

Denyse.

Joining Leanne and friends for Lovin Life Linky here. 

Joining here too: Esme’s Senior Salon link up.

FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest
FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest

Why Did I? 32/51. #LifeThisWeek. 64/2020.

Why Did I? 32/51. #LifeThisWeek. 64/2020.

I have given this optional prompt some thought and as my blog is having its 10th Birthday in late 2020 I decided to go with this question.

I am 67 here: only birthday cake photo I have.

Why Did I Start a Blog?

Before I did…here’s what went on.

  • From the time of my final retirement from education in early 2010 I was noticing how much I missed social connections and engagement with people. I miss school! It was, as I found out, my only place of being with people for a purpose and for a long time in my life: 4 decades.

 

  • I had my first iphone and discovered the (then) wonderful, engaging and fun world of Twitter. I called myself @denwise1 – a play on the spelling of Denyse with the y and added ‘one. Geddit? I am now @denysewhelan1 and have been for some years.

 

  • I first found fun and engagement via a very simple and great (then) on-line space called mamamia (dot) com and there were so many chances to engage and ‘chat’ with others. I virtually met so many people then, who have gone on to become IRL (in real life) friends I have met.

 

  • Suddenly I was connecting and I loved it, especially Fridays when there seemed to be a great number of us chatting away.

 

  • I found blogs like Woogsworld, Baby Mac, Styling You, MagnetoBoldToo, and many, many more. I loved commenting and, as I said making connections.

 

  • I was in awe of the ways in which this blogging thing worked. You wrote a post, published it and people read it and commented.

I thought (naively) I can do that!

 

 

Here Goes. The Blog. How I Did This. Not Well. But….

I outsourced my blog making to my internet provider and away I went. OH OH. No idea of what to do next. It was, as I saw, a static page. Ummm. That was not what I wanted. Initially I called my blog: Memories by Denyse. It was self-hosted on a wordpress platform and my name had already become my website. But, I know not what to do. So disappointed but also I am not someone who gives up.

Becoming Enlightened AND Overwhelmed.

I ummed and aaahed whether I could call myself a blogger when the first (ever!) Aussie Bloggers Conference was announced: to be in Sydney where I lived and on a weekend. Pay your fees and accommodation and come and meet like people. This was awesome. As an idea. You know that imposter syndrome, I really had it then.

 

Why Did I Attend the First Aussie Bloggers Conference in March 2011? 

To meet the people I already ‘knew’ from their blogs, their twitter feed and their comments on Mamamia. It really was that simple. Of course, I did hope to learn a bit more about this blogging thing but it was all about meeting people. From that day, and into the evening I met so many who had previously had twitter handles and blog names.

There are many of us still blogging from then but there are many MORE who have stopped blogging and ventured back into work, on-line ventures and more. But back then, it was a rush and a buzz being part of this and for me, knowing new people. Nothing to do with my world of education. And all, of course, much younger than I, but all very inclusive.

Why Did I Change The Blog’s Purpose Over Time?

  • Initially the blog was to help me make memories of the time we were living in as a family. I really could only add words and a few photos. I had no idea how to get anyone to read my blog’s posts.

 

  • I sought help from a couple of self-titled blog makers/developers over the next 2 years but remained frustrated that I was paying other people to do something I was not getting any income from. But wait. There IS more.

 

  • I made the blog into THREE: memories by denyse ...teaching by denyse….school by denyse …to match what I thought were my audiences. This was in 2011-2012 when there were at least 4 blogging conferences and meetings and I was R E A D Y to share my talents and skills (my words!)

 

  • I tried my best to share the words from the blogs with relevant audiences: parents where I was advising on starting school, and pre-service teachers needing help with potential employment and a personal blog about family life.

 

  • It was too much. No-one was reading much. I was working FAR too hard. I did at one stage, get some sponsorship and that $500 paid for my flights to Melbourne and attendance at Blogopolis. I did not enjoy having to be connected with a brand.

 

  • I sought local website development and blog-making help and after a coffee shop conversation, with me using hand drawn charts and ideas, the wonderful and patient Craig (who I call Tech Guy) came up with what is NOW: denysewhelan.com.au

 

  • I already had the name as my website and it took me till 2014 to finally let go of doing any kind of blogging other than what worked for me.

Why Did I Seek An Audience and How Did That Come About?

I am going to share this in next week’s post: I want. It kind of goes with the story too.

 

Do you have a story to share about how/why you began to blog?

Denyse.

Link Up #201

Life This Week. Link Up #201

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: 33/51 I Want? 17.8.2020

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest
FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest

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

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

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

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

From Beyond Five, this information:

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

 

What Are Some of the Symptoms?

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

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

*neck lump

*pain in the throat

*ear pain

*hoarse voice

*painful or difficulty in swallowing

*blocked nose on one side and/or bloody discharge

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

 

How is head and neck cancer awareness and information shared?

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

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

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

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

 

Why July is a strong memory for me.

July IS Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month.

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

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

 

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

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

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

Well. The memories ended for me.

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

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

That was my 6 July 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

 

From Beyond Five’s Website.

“Who Are We?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meeting Marty Doyle – at HNC support group.

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

Mike shares his story here.

May you all stay well.

Denyse.

Link Up #198.

Life This Week. Link Up #198.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest
FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest

The Value Of A Smile. 46.1./2020.

The Value Of A Smile. 46.1./2020.

I’ve been contemplating the ways in which smiling can improve my/our health.

Maybe too, because of being socially isolated and  when being out keeping our distance, I have noted that when engaging with people a smile cuts through any communication to be gain a positive response often with a smile back!

Have you noticed this too?

Regular readers here will know I lost my smile for a long time when the top half of my mouth (and some of my top lip too) was removed because of head and neck cancer, and that I really, really missed my smile!

Recovering from Cancer Surgery 2017. Smiling as Best I Could.

Interesting to get to know my needs for social inclusion were/are based on my ability to connect with my smile.

I think it is fascinating that of the three things I lost for a while after the July 2017 surgery: ability to eat & drink, talking clearly and smiling…that I found

S M I L I N G was what I needed to do most.

There is science in this too!

Recently I read this:

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do. Peace begins with a smile.

Mother Theresa.

Years ago, I was seeing a psychiatrist for some issues and he talked of the fake it till you make it smile. It seemed silly to me then, but apparently there IS something to this.

I can share this practice , from my experiences of meditation and being mindful, of not allowing myself to retreat or resist what I am not liking. I still need to remember this. In fact, I ask myself ‘what am I afraid to admit, or do or be’?

I need to be in the moment. The only moment as that’s all I have.

Yet, the physical act of helping my body make a smile, works. It’s like a circuit breaker. I can look in the mirror and smile. Not always genuinely but it changes things.

Further advice in troubled times:

  • life the corners of your mouth with your fingers, literally putting a smile on your face.

  • let the smile remind you that acceptance is more powerful than resistance.

  • breathe deeply, then exhale slowly

  • invite yourself to be curious about whatever set of circumstances initiated your resistance.

           Ashley Davis Bush: The Little Book of Inner Peace.

I do engage as much as I can with feeling gratitude each day (and made a promise to do this every day in 2020). Smiling reminds me of how grateful I am for my health, and that even though my top lip is shrinking back somewhat, smiling is one very sound exercise as is connecting with the people around me.

I made my first vlog…I am not sure that is what I call it…but I now have the ability to make mini-videos at home and sorted my channel on You Tube to be able to do so. Yes, the ending is a bit unproffesh but the message is mine!

Take care, people….and do remember to smile.

Denyse.

FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest
FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest

Share Your Snaps #3. 15/51. #LifeThisWeek. A Love Story. 30/2020.

Share Your Snaps #3. 15/51. #LifeThisWeek. A Love Story. 30/2020.

In July 2018 I met the members of the Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support Group at the first Soup for the Soul event in Gosford Hospital’s Central Coast Cancer Centre. That day was the first time I met other people who had been diagnosed with a head and neck cancer. I was “still” toothless but was made very welcome. Interesting isn’t it that it took me a year to get out to meet anyone at all in a setting like this. My surgeries and treatments for my head and neck cancer were all in Sydney. I had no idea of what support there was where I was now living until that month, close to World Head and Neck Cancer Day 2018, when I was invited by Lisa Shailer the Nurse who oversees and assists all head and neck (and lung)cancer patients who receive diagnosis and treatments at the centre to attend. I met many of the members, and it was good to share our stories where we could.

The couple I will now introduce, with what I have named  ‘A Love  Story’ are Stuart and Jill.

Stuart shares the story now after some questions for this post. Thank you Stuart and Jill for sharing.

We are Stuart and Jillian (Jill) Garfatth.  We have been  living in the Central Coast town of Toukley for the last 6 1/2 years.

 

How did head and neck cancer affect your lives?

The cancer had a very significant effect on both of us, of course, more so Jill than I.   It has completely changed our outlook on our lives, we realise how incredibly lucky we are to be living in Australia,  particularly the Central coast, because the treatment Jill was able to have has left us in no doubt that it is the best in the Western world, both medically and the people who cared for Jill in her time of need, of course the financial cost was virtually nil, which was a great help in eliminating that particular stressful component of treatment. We both have a vastly different outlook on life, we do things that we normally would not do,  get out and about, travel internationally much more than we normally do, and enjoy every minute of it!

 

 

How long have you both been members of the Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer group?

We have been members of the Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer group since August 2015, and it has benefited both of us a great deal, particularly the knowledge that we are not alone is a major factor of our membership of the group.

 

 

Do you have any particular stories to tell from your involvement there?

We don’t have any particular stories as such, but we always look forward to the meetings, gaining and sharing information about a great range of subject matter pertaining to Jill’s and everybody’s treatment and experiences. Of particular note presentations by people who are at the ‘coalface’ of research and treatments, they just reinforce the value of on-going research regarding advances in cancer treatment, very heartening indeed!

 

 

There is a story about your motorbike, and why it is special, can you share more?

Yes, there’s a bit of a story about my Sterling Autocycle motorbike. In April 2016, my twin brother rang me and suggested I get on the internet and have a look at a rather unique motorcycle, built to order by The Black Douglas Motorcycle Co. in their workshop in Melzo, just south of Milan, Italy. The company is registered in the U.K. but each bike is hand made, taking about 200 hours per bike, and no two are exactly alike, given differences in overall colour and applied finishes, like pinstriping, and other materials used in their construction.
I told my brother that I thought they were rather nice, and certainly ‘different’ to what is being mass produced by the very large manufacturers, but I could not see me buying one as they were a little ‘pricey’, and I didn’t see a need for me to have one. He replied, “Well, I’m buying two, one with a 230cc motor, and the other with a 125cc motor, and you can have the smaller one”.
“WHAT!, you’re paying for both?!,  I was stunned to put it lightly. Well, after getting over the surprise, I contacted the company founder, Fabio Cardoni, and set the wheels in motion to import the first two Sterlings into Australia.

Can you share more please…I know there IS more! 

As my brother is not on the internet, everything fell to me about liaising with all the relevant Authorities, both in Australia and Italy, little did I know what was to come!. Our greatest stroke of luck came about when I contacted the owner of Ballina Motorcycles, Joe Fisher, who has over 44 years experience in the industry,  he proved to be fundamental to the successful outcome, that took 3 years to bear fruit, and have our bikes registered to ride in Australia, his tenacity and unflagging determination, despite some very serious setbacks, was incredible, but for his efforts, our two bikes would never have been imported and registered here, his honesty and dedication to the task was incredible to see, we cannot thank him enough.

There is a down side to the whole saga though.  Our bikes landed  Australia June, 2016, and after a minor delay, we took delivery and put them into Joe Fishers hands, and he started what turned out to be a 2 year process of getting them legal for road use, and boy, what a story that was! Then towards the end of November 2016, the company ceased trading, it was bankrupted by some new owners who thought they could do better than its founder, Fabio Cardoni, so our two Sterlings are now the only two in Australia, and ever will be.

 

 

Please tell more about how the ribbon for Head and Neck Cancer (named for Jill) came about.

The head and neck cancer ribbon I have put on at the front of each side of the petrol tank came about when I soon realised that when the bike was out in public, it attracted a lot of attention,  many many photographs  taken, many questions are asked,  I was even videoed  once whilst riding, so this got me thinking.  I had the ribbon professionally designed and applied, so that whenever an image of the bike was taken, and published, particularly on the internet, the public profile and awareness of head and neck cancer could grow, which it has, as the image has been seen in the U.K., Europe, North America and Canada.

 

 

What else would you both like to add to this love story?

I had Jill’s name applied within the ribbon for two reasons. One, the bike is unique and very pleasing to the eye, and two, so is Jill!

As my bike is the only one on this planet with such unique livery, and Jill is the only Jill also on this planet, I felt it fitting that I should pay my homage to Her by naming my Sterling after her, and ever it will be.

 

Thank you Stuart and Jill for sharing the story of love, as I named it. I know you won’t argue there. I trust that there are many more days to come, sharing the bike, its story and the head and neck cancer ribbon…once we get through the challenges our country is in now thanks to the COVID19 pandemic.

This was a Share Your Snaps with a difference, and I am glad I saved the photos and story till Easter. We all need a lift in spirits I think and with this story I know I was smiling as I compiled it.

To Love…and Stuart and Jill.

 

Denyse.

In writing here,  partly in my role as a Community Ambassador for Beyond Five, the organisation which helps raise awareness of head and neck cancer which is Australia’s 7th highest, I acknowledge Stuart and Jill are also raising awareness with their bike and meeting attendance at the Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support Group. Coming up in July, it’s unlikely there will be a Soup for The Soul at the Cancer Centre as in 2018-2019 – sorry Stuart, who enjoys serving the soups with Jill and sampling them too, so it’s vital we continue as individuals and groups to share the knowledge we have about our head and neck cancer stories.

 

 

Life This Week. #184.

Life This Week. Link Up #184.

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 weekly optional prompt is: 16/51 I Heard 20.4.2020

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

 

 

 

 

 

 

FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest
FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest

Taking Stock #1 9/51. Life This Week.18/2020.

Taking Stock #1 9/51. Life This Week.18/2020.

Here we are, if you also follow the optional prompts: Taking Stock #1 for 2020. These prompts come in roughly every nine weeks. Let’s go: first one this year.

I wanted to be different this time round so added photos first, then the prompt that I thought suited best. Hope you enjoyed the pictorial version.

Happy first week of Autumn (Southern Hemisphere) and I know Northern Hemisphere people wait till equinox: 21/22 March for first day of Spring!

Denyse.

This is the list of optional prompts I use for my taking stock posts. Feel free to copy them from here if you wish.

Making
Cooking
Drinking
Reading
Wanting
Looking
Playing
Wasting
Wishing
Enjoying
Waiting
Liking
Wondering
Loving 
Hoping

Marvelling
Needing
Smelling
Wearing
Following
Noticing
Knowing
Thinking
Feeling
Bookmarking
Opening
Smiling

Link Up #178.

Life This Week. Link Up #178.

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 weekly optional prompt is: 10/51 Share Your Snaps #2. 9.3.2020

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest
FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest

Birth Stories. #1. An Occasional Series. 6/2020.

Birth Stories. #1. An Occasional Series. 6/2020.

Who doesn’t enjoy a birth story?

Oh, maybe that should read…would you enjoy reading some birth stories?

If YES… read on.

If NO…Thank you for reading so far. I will catch you back here soon I hope!!

Images of the most of the babies are photos from their first day/night of life. I have a framed photo collage of each of the 2 groups of 4 grandchildren. Very special memories.

The ‘last’ grandchild’s BIRTHday.

This (bad) photo taken at sunrise was when I drove to Sydney – around 90 minutes from our new place of residence on the Central Coast. I had been on “Grandma-standby” for a few days but with the birth now not expected till the following week, I got quite a shock/surprise to get the news that our son and his wife were on their way to the hospital and a neighbour was in the house while the siblings slept. That dear ‘breech’ baby wanted out of there and she was delivered naturally and both mother and baby were well. I waited at our son’s house with his sister (who had also been called to relieve the neighbour) till he arrived home with the news for us all…and with great relief, we left the family and went for a much-needed breakfast.

Here she is: 

Our daughter’s arrival. LONG time ago. 

So, this young, married, and pregnant teacher (me!) soon learned the hard way about being pregnant. I was going well. We lived outside a country town in north west N.S.W. in 1971. I saw the local G.P. for my check-ups and then… BOOM! “No, you won’t be having your baby here as you need specialist attention and that is urgent.”

Yikes. Way to scare a mother-to-be and the father too… yet he is not really scared of anything. So, chastened, worried (because I had gained a LOT of weight in a short space of time) we arrived at Tamworth, two hours from home,  to meet the Ob/Gyn. His examination ended up with me getting a diagnosis of then toxaemia, (pre-eclampsia) and taken straight to the hospital for bed rest and diuretics and keeping me and baby well. It was a LONG week I was there, confined and scared…because I knew nothing really. The treatment worked and my now Doctor let me home with the promise of returning in 2 weeks for induction AND (I never understood this, but obeyed) eat lots of lollies.

Dutifully, we returned one Wednesday evening and after admission, some induction strategies began. Pills and pessaries I think. Husband went home (2 hours away) as he had to teach at his one teacher school. No progress towards labour that night. All day Thursday still nothing much. Was transferred to labour ward that night and the Ob/Gyn visited and broke my waters. He was surprised to see some blood and explained it was likely to be a placenta previa partly covering the cervix that had been noted in a pelvic Xray (yes, of my baby and me)  but he showed no real concern. In this time nothing happened. Boring. Waiting. Boring but wait. It was Friday. Off to delivery suite. No idea why. BUT I did have some pains like periods. Nothing much given for pain other than some gas (mask). My husband called around 1 p.m. to be told “no she is not in labour don’t come down in this awful weather.”

Meanwhile, this pain which grew was in the back and more. A wonderful midwife was so kind. But still….I had no idea UNTIL around 4-4.30 I wanted to be sick (not like me ever) and I wanted to leave. Those who have given birth will know this is called transition. I did not but the pain escalated, as did my tightening of the poor midwife’s hand…and around 5-5.30 they called in the Ob/Gyn…he arrived in his whites. His squash gear! And by 6.35 p.m. I had delivered our little ray of sunshine. There were no pain meds. I was on a high. He even managed to stitch me and tell me 9/10. I thought it was my performance …later I found it was the baby’s APGAR.

The lovely Ob/Gyn then left the room but I could hear him on the phone “Mr Whelan you have a beautiful daughter”……and with that, my husband and his mate (my principal) got in the car and began the drive in the rotten winter night to meet his daughter.

But he could only see her through the glass. She was held to the glass for him to ‘meet’. Then he came to see me. “She has your fat cheeks and a dimple and my long fingers”. True. Back in those days no-one got to hold the baby except for the mother and nurses and it was not until we were discharged 6 days later that he got to hold his daughter and meet her properly.

Here she is in 1972 with “our bags” ready for me to go to school and her to daycare with my boss’ wife in the residence next door to school. So grateful for this!

Our first grandson’s arrival.

If you remember hot and stormy weather (oh yes, we have quite a bit of that lately!) then I can vouch for it early in the 2000s too. One very hot (up to 40s) Monday in mid January, our daughter was admitted to hospital for an induction for the birth of her 3rd child. She and her then husband were all for me being around  (this is the last Mum, so it’s fine if you want to be there). Once we knew that she was in her delivery suite, and the 2 siblings (then 4 and almost 2) were OK with my husband, Papa, I set off with camera(s) and ready to be there. But….I can now tell you truthfully, it was not the space for me.

Back then, despite thinking I could do this, my anxiety was quite high – because I was certainly not able to help in any way and it became confronting to be in the room where I was no help – my words. So, as my daughter laboured….and continued to resist epidural notion, I needed to be elsewhere…so went out for a walk around the wards. I passed an anaesthetist moving fast towards my daughter’s room as I had heard “get me the epidural” words….but alas, not to be. I then heard what was for me “loud noises” and tried to compose myself as I re-entered the room….and it turned out, that it was my grandson’s birth that had been the source of the sounds and there he was!!

He was so attentive I will never forget his engagement with me. The eyes! There was a bit of a kerfuffle I will call it though when her Ob/Gyn arrived, as the midwife had safely delivered B. He was asking why she hadn’t called him earlier. I remember her trying and it being constantly engaged. He was about 15 minutes drive from the hospital and it was school holidays. Before our grandson arrived and I heard the midwife trying to make these calls, we concluded it was probably not going through as back then only one phone line did the internet too. We reckoned it was his daughters!

Nevertheless the issue  settled.

But the weather did not that night. Around the time of B’s birth one of those raging southerlies arrived and with a hospital on top of a rise in Sydney’s north shore, we could feel its impact. When I left to drive home, around 8 p.m. everything outside the San at Wahroonga was dark. I wended my way through a tree-branch strewn carpark and drove slowly home via blacked out traffic lights and rain. We had tried calling my husband with the news but did not then know the phones were out too. My excited arrival home, in the dark, was chastened by “shush, I just got the girls to sleep, it’s been very scary”….and “oh” from me…then I told him of the news. I am afraid his tiredness meant a less enthusiastic response but the next day, we loaded up the brand new sisters and went to meet Mr Now Firelite DJ when he was one day old.

Here he is.

 

There are more stories to tell.

Like it says, this will be an occasional series.

I have deliberately kept all details as private as I can for those here.

Do you like to share stories like these?

I hope so but I do know that they do not appeal to all.

Denyse.

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest
FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest