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Thank you Denyse!

Today we bid a very fond farewell to Denyse Whelan who is officially retiring as Head and Neck Cancer Australia Ambassador after a remarkable five years!

Five years ago HANCA, then known as Beyond Five, was introduced to Denyse by her surgeon and one of our founding directors, A/Prof Jonathan Clark and #HNC Nurse Cate Froggatt. Denyse – a retired K-6 NSW School Principal and passionate educator - had been treated for a rare oral cancer in her upper gums in 2017 and was keen to share her story and ‘new normal’ to help others. It soon became apparent that Denyse had a lot more to give and in November 2018 we were delighted when Denyse joined as one of HANCA’s Ambassadors.

Since then Denyse has been a powerhouse of support and action using her expertise as an educator to help others by sharing her story online, at community education events and directly to healthcare professionals to help raise awareness of #HNC in her local community and across Australia. In fact, one of Denyse’s final education activities as a HANCA Ambassador was just last week at the Rouse Hill Family Medical Practice, her local GP clinic, raising awareness about the Changing Face of Head and Neck Cancer GP education module.

Denyse was one of our first community members to meet with her Federal MP, Dr Emma McBride MP, and over the past five years has regularly engaged with her other local MPs including Senator Deborah O'Neill to help raise awareness and advocate for people living with #HNC. These personal introductions helped HANCA enormously when we held our first Federal Government meetings and contributed to the success of our inaugural Parliamentary Breakfast in Canberra earlier this year.

Denyse has been an active participant of the Central Coast HNC Support Group and supported numerous people newly diagnosed with #HNC both in person and online. Denyse has also contributed to a variety of #HNC research projects sharing her lived experience to help others.

But that’s not all! Denyse was also interviewed for the HANCA Nutrition Video series that has been viewed 400 times and featured in several local media articles sharing her story to help raise awareness of #HNC in the general public.

While Denyse may be retiring as a HANCA Ambassador her comprehensive #HNC blog that she has kept updated with written reflections and photos since her diagnosis will remain online to help others into the future.

Denyse, we are beyond grateful for your dedication and commitment to the role of HANCA Ambassador and we cannot thank you enough for everything you have contributed over the past five years to support HANCA’s mission of raising awareness and improving outcomes for people affected by #HNC. We are also incredibly grateful for your friendship and wisdom and wish you, Bernard and your family all the very best! While you be enjoying a very well-deserved retirement as HANCA Ambassador you will always be part of our community.

#headandneckcancer, #community, #education


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