Thursday 26th May 2022

Self Compassion: My Healthy Life Challenge: April 2022. 19/2022.

We Missed Mondays…..

I had some nostalgia last Monday, wondering “what do I do on Monday mornings now?”

I thought I was caring for my health by stopping the weekly link up at 280 for Life This Week, and that stands….

But for me, and it seems a few/most of my blogging friends, the ‘once a month’ thing wasn’t feeling all that friendly. So, as I said, we I can change my mind…and with that…Mondays, every 2nd week, will be blog link up time again. A slight name change so it’s a bit different. Life’s Stories and the link up will be open this Monday at 5.00 a.m AEDST. Denyse.

 

Self Compassion: My Healthy Life Challenge: April 2022. 19/2022.

In my post for Word of The Year March 2022 I will be writing more about how hard it has been in some ways to:

BE   ME

This got me looking back to my Self Compassion course done via an app in January 2022 (see this post for more) and continuing my progress to become more self compassionate.

I have had some emotional and mental turmoil take over parts of my being and I need(ed) to challenge and ask what was going on.

More about that in the post that is coming.

For now, and into the 30 days of April, I offer to others a  Healthy Life Challenge about being:

Self Compassionate.

An example from recent weeks and my self compassion (inner talk, self kindness, care, criticism and so on):

Left: been to skin doctor & had biopsies taken. I felt somewhat sorry for myself…..and took myself out for a coffee and consider how that had unnerved me a bit.

Right: an ordinary every day selfie. Pointing to where the skin was biopsied. What IS it about me and selfies, my husband recently asked…I said

“I have never felt confident at all about my appearance, especially my face, until post-head and neck cancer surgeries, and I like to get reminders, in the selfies that my outside is looking good, even if, at times, my inside tells me different stories”

Having completed the January 2022 course, I was pleased with my growth in self compassion, but it takes so much reminding and practice to learn!

Link to course is here.

Some words from within the course.

“our human compassion binds us to one another – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future” Nelson Madala.

What IS Compassion?

  1. We have a brain and body that has been built FOR is, not by us – our brain and body evolved with emotions (such as fear and anger) and behaviours (such as fighting, avoiding and running away) to help us survice. But these can cause us a lot of pain.
  2. We grow older and eventually our lives come to an end – not writing this to make us sad, just that this is a reality of life. But for many of us, knowing this will happen can cause a lot of distress.
  3. We’re shaped by life experiences, which are not always in our control – those experienced shape the minds we have, and the people we become. For example, if you were raised by your next door neighbours rather than your family, it’s likely you’d be quite a different person, with different interests, lifestyle and even political and religious beliefs.

 

 

Over the years, via this link to Kristen Neff’s Self Compassion quiz, I KNOW I am doing well.

Yet, because of the habits of life till recent times, I have forgotten or remembered too late about

Self Compassion

So, as I make big shifts in my life, changing from doing (less)  me to being  (more) me

I made a challenge:

(and I always seem to like one of those!)

Changing from less doing to more being.

  • 30 Days
  • Instagram (@denyse.whelan -ask for follow)
  • Facebook (@denysewhelanblogs)
  • and Twitter (@denysewhelan1)
  • What does my self compassion look like, feel like today
  • Share with an image or representation of self compassion done your way
  • Share a quote or image that sums up how you are helping yourself be more self compassionate

Do you know that we are far more likely to be self compassionate to friends and family than to ourselves?

I would highly recommend some books that you can read, borrow or listen to, that have helped me in many ways:

I’ll use these hashtags

#selfcompassion

#selfcare

#timeforme

#takingcare

#healthinageing

#lifetransitions

The RULES….for this challenge…there are no rules.….

other than to learn to be more self compassionate, and to forgive yourself on each occasion you forget.

and, 30 days is arbitrary.

Posting is as well.

Make this something that works for you, with self compassion at its core.

I will be continuing to review my days via the app, using gratitude as the base and to write to help me heal and grow. All within the app, and private for me. It’s a discipline to remember as I have another diary app but I am enjoying the value of both, along with the writing reflections I do after each Calm meditation.

How about it?

Are you thinking you could be helping yourself with some self compassion?

Let me know your thoughts,

with love, AND compassion,

Denyse.

Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share today

Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

 

 

 

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Fifteen Years Ago. Why 5 March Matters To Me. 14/2022.

Fifteen Years Ago. Why 5 March Matters To Me. 14/2022.

CW: death, mourning, grief

 

Today is Saturday 5th March 2022 and it marks 15 years since my dear mother died.

I say “died”…because the messages/words around death need to be used as they are meant to…to  convey meaning, not to confuse. I heard recently of a person being told on the phone, that a loved on, in a care home, was “gone” and that confused the recipient even more, because “where had he gone?”

About her 80th Birthday.

Mum said to Dad after attending yet another person’s funeral, “why do people wait till others die before telling them what they meant to them?” She was right. So, for her 80th Birthday, 6.12.2004, we hosted a Family Birthday Dinner and Celebration of Mum. I made a timeline with photos and the story of her life, and we were all there for her. Her husband, her adult kids and their partners, her adult grandkids and 3 grandchildren…and we shared words to her, in written form, cards and a speech of sorts. In looking back at the night, because I recently found the photos, there is a little video of Mum speaking about the gratitude she has for us all. I found that very touching and I am so glad I have it.

over 17 years ago! My brother & I with our parents.

Mum & Dad with B & Me, and our two children. 2004

Mum was the birthday cake maker….but not for her 80th. The look is so much my Mum…and the 3 great grandkids helped her with those candles.

I wrote back in 2017 for Telling My Story, a little of Mum’s history and what happened to her health after the celebration of her 80th Birthday.

Up until Mum’s 80th Birthday in December 2004 she had been quite well. A few so-called minor things were wrong and I know where my worry/anxiety gene comes from. But my mum, just as I do, could put on a smile no matter what.

So, we as a family watched over our Mum as her health, and with that her demeanour changed. Speaking to Dad now he says “she just wasn’t the same” and I know now why. In the course of her eventual hospitalisation in late January 2007 and an MRI, Mum was diagnosed with secondary brain tumours. Her downward health spiral the 2 or so years before had including symptoms of bad pain and some tremor but despite some doctors’ advice and care, Mum was a very scared reluctant visitor to doctors and specialists…and to hospitals. Obviously it was based on fear and Dad had to do what he could to convince Mum to get help and care. A big challenge. So, after the diagnosis of the secondary brain tumours, there was some ideas of what her primary cancers might have been but there was no way to know and Dad decided against an autopsy.

And now it’s the 15 Years Anniversary.

I don’t really know WHY this one is standing out to me but I am making some guesses:

  • Dad had a stay in hospital this week and whilst he is now back home, he is a visually impaired and mobility challenged, fully cognisant 98 year old. So, yes, I did get concerned “this may be his time” early this week.
  • Dad has no more peers, nor family members alive. Those who are his friends where he lives are in their 70s and 80s.
  • Dad says he missed Mum more than ever. I suspect with the added loneliness and covid restrictions he IS indeed lonely.
  • I finally accepted that his death will be a shock despite what I logically know
  • I am now, thank goodness, well enough and better in myself emotionally, to realise the significant of my Mum dying
  • I was a pretty distant daughter in my own way but that was because of “my” views of me, and perceived critical views of me by my mum.

Here’s why I needed to write and post today.

  • I appreciate now more than ever the mother Mum was to me
  • I was, and still can be, someone who is a challenge in relationships…mostly fuelled by my old ways of seeing me
  • I know that she gave me unconditional love
  • I know I WAS loved
  • I know that by sharing this now, I may be feeling more loving towards my Dad too.

He and I will chat today on the phone and I will listen to his thoughts.

We only have one chance at this thing called LIFE and I wanted to write more to enable this to be seen and viewed by me and others.

My Tribute in This Image & Words. 5.3.2022.

 

This was going to be a facebook tribute but then I changed to a blog post. I now am pleased to have done this.

Today, Mum, it’s 15 years since you died.

Wow. You had been quite unwell for around 2 years before this, and it was via secondary brain tumours that you succumbed.

Dad is missing you more than ever as he ages alone at 98, having left the home you shared together 4 years after your passing, to live at Dee Why.

Thanks for your love, presence, care and support in my life growing up. And then when Ibecomea mum, a very young one, married to B, another teacher & living in remote northern NSW.

Thanks too for the love, care and cooking for our family too,as I was a full time teacher. Taking our kids to stay and have holidays with you and Dad gave me respite. And they loved Noreen’s porridge and rice custard!

Your life was a busy one, and you gave a lot to the community. Thank you. And before you turned 80, we decided as you always said, it was better to tell people how much they meant to you before you died!

We listened, and your family, including by then, great grandchildren, did so on 6.12.2004.

What joyful photos and memories there are here!

You are missed by many, Mum & Noreen.

 

 

Love is a wonderful and necessary human connection to sustain life, but to love someone is to mourn for them once they are dead. I know that there is a saying along the lines of grieving is the price we pay for loving.

If this post has brought up memories or more grief from your past, there are people who will listen here: at Lifeline 131114.

Grieving is on-going and shows itself in all kinds of ways. It is something we live with. I know my grief today is heightened as it is an anniversary day.

I am going gently and kindly and thinking of my Mum and all she brought to my life…by giving me life.

Vale Noreen Simpson nee Chapple. Mum.

Mum’s Memories. After her cremation, Dad placed some of her ashes in pots, along with her favourite flower. Other family members did similarly.

Thank you for reading. I hope that it has not been too sad.

I am finding the power of writing on my blog a force for good.

Denyse.

 

 

Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share today

Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

 

 

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

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

The backstory first:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you ready to come along?

Early April 2019.

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

What a day!

The upshot.

This.

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

Late April, Mother’s Day and into  May.

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

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

About An Idea: Women of Courage.

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

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

Women of Courage.

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

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

Ready steady….Women of Courage

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

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

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

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

June, July, August…..2019.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Some Highlights: June to November 2019.

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

On Turning 70. 

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

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

Loved this big surprise.

Lovely portraits of our 8 grandkids

 

Christmas 2019 Was Different.

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

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

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

Onward into 2020 with Gratitude.

I accepted this would be word for 2020.

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

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

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

 

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

Here is the link to each post.

Part One 2020

Part Two 2020

Part Three 2020

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

 

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

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

Warm wishes,

Denyse.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

 

 

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

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

The backstory first:

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

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

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

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

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

 

June into July 2018.

About my mouth.

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Routine Helped.

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

Life went on.

In between times, I did not sit around.

Actually I do not doing sitting around very well.

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

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

School Holidays. Visitors. 

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

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

 

Head and Neck Cancer: Sharing The News.

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

I did.

Thank You: No Words Are Enough.

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

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

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

August 2018. How LONG?

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

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

I smiled for a LOOOOONNNNNGGGG time.

First time I smiled….

 

After an adjustment from my prosthodontist.

September into October 2018.

I Could Not Stop SMILING.

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

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

What it was not.

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

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

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

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

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

November into December 2018.

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

Back to schools!

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

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

We hosted Christmas.

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

What Would 2019 Bring?

January 2019.

Birthdays!

Always birthdays first…my Dad…95

Then our son 40

And our grandson 18.

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

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

February 2019.

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

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

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

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

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

March into April 2019. 

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

I had to learn to add in time outside.

In nature.

Taking walks.

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

Remembering my late Mum’s death anniversary here.

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

Reality of my reconstructed mouth….

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

Thank you so much if you made it this far.

I appreciate that!

Denyse.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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