In January 2015, following a routine check by my vigilant GP, I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

As a Brit living in Sydney, Australia since 2008, I realised over the following days just how many of my friends and family were scattered across the globe and different timezones.

The Fellowship of the Ringlets was originally just a tremendous pun and the title of a closed Facebook group I created to keep those distant friends and family in the loop and worry-free.

But over 12 months, my little group somehow grew from 80 to 800+ and became a veritable band of brothers, a support team like no other and a true Fellowship in every sense of the word.

Their love, laughter and rallying cries have been the greatest tonic a little ringlet'd cancer-face like me could have wished for.

The following letters, musings, incoherent ramblings and occasional bouts of bad language are for them all.

Welcome to the Fellowship of the Ringlets.

VC x

Friday 25 December 2015


Dear Fellowship, 
5 years ago, I travelled home from Sydney secretly to surprise my mum and family on Christmas Day. Apart from the bit where Mum shut the door in my face upon seeing me stood there in the snow shouting "Surpriiiiiiiiise!!!' at her in a Santa hat, it worked like a dream. 
So when I returned to Sydney in mid-November just before my niece Matilda was born, I was already considering whether potentially repeating the great Connerty Christmas surprise of 2010 in 2015 was the best idea I'd ever had or in fact absolute lunacy. Turns out it was probably a bit of both...
And so yesterday, after a month of very uncharacteristic VC secrecy and 24 hours after leaving Sydney, I arrived in Henley wearing a jazzy elf hat (I like to mix up my festive headwear choices) and successfully scared the living daylights out of my poor unsuspecting sisters and mum. 
My bro got the same treatment on his eventual arrival this afternoon, the reason for this delayed Yuletide greeting - I don't know how Cilla Black managed 'Surprise, Surprise!' for all those years - it's exhausting! 
Jetlagged auntie, milk-coma'd niece

Probably more scared than my sisters was my brother-in-law Martin who I'd dragged into my Focker-style circle of trust only a day earlier and who I'm pretty sure barely spoke to my sister following my phone call, so fearful was he of letting the Christmas cat out of the bag. Thanks for being the Ben Stiller to my Robert de Niro, Mart.
So today I'll be enjoying all the chaotic trimmings of a UK Connerty Christmas in leafy Henley and it feels like the right place to be, especially this year. 
A year ago, I was in Jervis Bay awaiting the results of my Christmas Eve biopsy, opening presents in the sun, watching sunrises on the beach and being altogether blissfully unaware of the cancery storm racing towards me. 
This year, my latest Christmas accessory is my 3 week old niece, I've drunk way more water than wine and jetlag is the only reason I'll be seeing sunrise this week. What a difference a year makes indeed! 

Niece carnage
3 cousins, 1 squashed auntie
So all that remains is to send a very merry Christmas to all of you and yours from me and mine. I hope you're having the most delightful of times with the people you love the most. Because really, that's what Christmas is all about, innit? 
I know. I'm a bit like a ginger Oprah nowadays. Call it my Christmas gift to you all...
VC x
Happy Christmas!

Monday 7 December 2015


Dear Fellowship, 

Meet Fishy. David Fish has a lot to answer for. He hired me, probably very much against his better judgement, as a Strategist for a big Aussie radio network when I first arrived in Sydney back in 2008. What he really wanted was someone to do copious amount of research, put together beautiful presentations and help sell some tremendous radio-based media solutions to some cynical agency types. What he got was me. Let’s just say I interview well.
Fishy & me pre-flight!
Working with Fish for 2 years was probably one of the greatest gigs I ever scored. I had no idea what a strategist really did (still don't, to be fair) nor did I possess the remotest inclination to do any actual strategising - instead I spent most of my days scornfully correcting my sales team’s grammar and spelling mistakes or rolling my eyes and sighing heavily every time someone started a presentation with ‘digital is the future’…
But regardless of my being the least strategic so-called strategist in the southern hemisphere, Fishy let me stay and a firm friendship, mostly based on me bending his ear for hours on end and him waiting patiently for me to finish, was born. 
In 2014, Fish was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma. In true Fishy fashion, he tackled the whole cancery tale with his legendary sense of calm and unwittingly set me the best example of how to face a cancer diagnosis head-on. 
He finished his treatment plan this year just days after I started mine and is now happily all-clear - I like to think of us as a cancer-fighting relay team, him coming round the bend and passing the cancery baton over to my outstretched hand to power it down the home straight. It’s like the Olympics - just more legal drugs, way less lycra and thankfully, zero running. 
While I learnt how to hand-tie floral bouquets during my months off work, Fishy decided to learn how to fly aerobatics with a view to one day taking part in those mad-arse Red Bull stunt flying competitions. And whilst I was proudly showing off some flowers in a vase this year, he was busy perfecting the art of stalling a plane in mid-air. 
When I returned to Sydney a few weeks ago, Fishy offered to take me up in his little flying machine and demonstrate his new-found stunt flying skills.Never being one to turn down a free scenic flight over Sydney with a fellow cancer survivor, I of course said yes and so yesterday, we flew up the coast, over the Harbour and Opera House and up to Palm Beach where 4,000 feet up, we executed a loop, a roll, a wing over and a stall turn in a tiny 2-seater plane! Gulp. 
Thanks to Fish for the most epic, scenic and brilliantly stomach-churning experience yesterday. The twin sensation of utter exhilaration combined with buttock-clenching terror is hard to beat. I am very glad we managed to re-start the stalled engine as we plummeted towards the ocean or this would have been an awkward ‘what Vix did next’ tear-stained blog that someone would have had to write on my behalf…
Meanwhile here are a few comedy pics and video evidence for you - the genius and tragedy of my new haircut is that there are no upside-down ringlets spinning about for you all to enjoy...shame.


View over the stunning Harbour from the cockpit!

And roll!



In breaking (waters) news, I’ve also just been told that my super-organised sister has gone into labour, just hours into her due date! So in the next few exciting hours, I shall be battling for that 'favourite auntie who sends us nothing but stuffed koalas but she lives in Oz so let’s keep in with her because when we’re 16, we’ll need a foreign bolthole' status once more and we shall have another gorgeous member to add to the clan!! 
Good luck to my beautiful sis Liz Connerty (and my brother-in-law Martin Christie, who is breaking all sorts of speed limits on the roads of Oxfordshire as we speak) and get ready to be introduced very soon to the latest recipient of my much in-demand, baby-whispering cuddles! Wahay!


*update : I have a little niece and Molly has a little sister!! Welcome to Matilda Christie - apparently a touch of red hair as well - an Aussie name AND a ginge, I have this fave aunt shizzle in the bag! (Sorry Magz Connerty)

Monday 23 November 2015


Dear Fellowship, 

So welcome to National Hypochondriac Day. Where I mostly wander around Sydney complaining to anyone (who’s paid to listen to me) about my various ailments.

Back in Sydney. Hideous view. 

As far as I know there isn’t actually a day in the calendar dedicated to imaginary aches and pains but if there was one, it would be today and if there was an award involved, then I would almost certainly win some sort of Grand Wizardy Whingeing Pom Lifetime Achievement type accolade.

My long-suffering GP Jacqui, after a 3 month respite from listening to my arm, foot, hair and boob-related woes, reluctantly booked a whole hour in her diary with me this morning to ostensibly sign some forms and write some referrals. 48 minutes later, I suspected that behind the sympathetic head tilt, she was mentally banging her head against her desk whilst I regaled her with yet more symptoms to have a crack at.

The good news is that the nerve pain in my foot that has had me muttering about neuropathy and gulping down old man levels of nerve drugs since July isn’t actually anything to do with chemo, cancer or neuropathy.

The bad news is that it’s probably something called ‘Morton’s Neuroma’ which is basically a delightful-sounding thickening of nerve tissue and is commonly found in women who wear heels a lot. Anyone who’s ever seen my Imelda Marcos-size shoe collection will not be remotely surprised by this new twist in the tale.

The good news is that it can be treated by either injecting steroids into it (gulp) or via surgery to remove it (gulp), resulting in a few days on crutches.

The bad news is that the last time I had to use crutches for more than 10 minutes back in 2004, I accidentally flung a whole pint of Lucozade onto a brand new cream carpet, resulting in our whole flat having to be re-carpeted. The lesson is never balance a pint of Lucozade on a book whilst moving from one room to another on crutches. Seems obvious, I know...

Anyway, I digress. X-Ray and ultrasound locked in for later this week but it’s looking like there is at least a better outcome for the old right foot than ‘it’s just down to the chemo, innit?’ explanation I’ve been offering up for months. Well done to Cath Walters for listening to me whinge for half an hour about it last week before getting on Google and texting me ten minutes later “I reckon the pain in your toe could be a Morton’s Neuroma…”. She’s so smug right now.

 Meanwhile, I now have good old Morton to add to Lumpy, Lymphy and Limpy - together, they sound like the ugliest Scandinavian boy band ever.

Next up and a trip to Sunburn Sue. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I bloody love Sue. We had a nice chat about my holidays, how much we both love the Scottish Highlands, isn’t Skye amazing and wasn’t the Harry Potter train over the Viaduct fun etc - if I hadn’t been sat there chatting away with top off and boobs out, it would have been a bit like going to the hairdressers. As it was, she’s very happy with everything and reassured me that yes, I am now definitely, most assuredly 'well' and no, I did not need to take up precious space in her room anymore. Then she booted me out. Sad face. I miss Sue already.

Then I popped upstairs to see Dr Dave to book in my annual mammogram for January, which as a breast cancer survivor, I am now entitled to. Sadly, Dave wasn’t in - probably off saving women everywhere like the legend he is - so I had a chat with his PA, Kate.

“When do you want to do it?" she said “You choose.”
“Next week?”
“December’s terrible. Don’t say December.”
“Ok then, how about mid-Jan?”
“Locked in. Want an ultrasound with that? You might as well.”

I’m not even joking. It was like being at a McDonalds Drive-Thru for boobs. Which I know would be a dream come true in many ways for several of you lads.

Then I spent 5 minutes explaining to Kate and her colleague on reception exactly how a mammogram worked while they both pulled faces only 22 year olds can pull when confronted with the words ‘boobs’, ’squashed’ and ‘like an ice cold sandwich press’.

I’ve been back nearly a fortnight and am starting to settle back in after ten tremendously recuperative and gorgeous weeks back in the Motherland. The ridiculous 30+ degree temperatures are certainly helping with this re-adjustment back into Sydney life but if it makes my English pals feel better, I did cry for pretty much the whole day when I landed. Cried driving to a massage, cried during the massage (not recommended), cried unpacking my bag, cried on my friend and her baby. Literally, all day. Then I took a sleeping pill, had 12 hours solid sleep, the sun came out and I felt much better. I still miss you all very much though. :)

In other exciting news, the Bouff has had its first official haircut! Yes! The Return of the Ringlets is all systems go! Both my mum and my sister both remarked in the UK how much like Dad’s hair it looked which, though I loved my Dad and his hair very much, is not exactly the look that I was quite aiming for. Another friend who shall remain nameless suggested it looked a bit like a wet tennis ball. He is still apologising, 2 weeks later. So the first thing I did post-crying massage was push off and see my hairdresser Roger.

“Too soon?” I said, anxiously as he strode towards me in the salon. “Never too soon!” he replied, whipping out his tiny nail scissors. Had a lovely time, a little ‘fro trimmage and Rog pretended there was a long-term strategy in place for Bouff-growth and maintenance which made me happy.

Before - wet tennis ball...

After - tennis ball. hmm. 

 I have to say as an aside that wrestling with the new Bouff has become my least favourite pastime. How much wax is too much wax? Why, o why does it insist on curling out at the sides like Count Duckula’s tail? I mostly just look like I’m auditioning for a role in Bugsy Malone. As a lad. And now they’re telling me I’ve got to go easy on the heels. Man alive. No online dating for me for a while...

But for now, sensible shoes and hair wax aside, we shall simply press on with getting back to normal. Whatever the devil that might be. :)

VC x

Thursday 29 October 2015


Me, my niece Lottie, Peppa Pig and my dad's tree. :)

Dear Fellowship,

So with 8 weeks down and just a fortnight to go until I head back to Aussie shores, I thought a post might be a reasonable plan!
There have been plenty of moments over the last couple of months when I’ve considered relaying to the Fellowship the details of this recuperative period but for some reason - time, inclination, the dreaded ‘fatigue’, fear of not appearing withery enough versus fear of looking too smug - I haven’t quite managed to get pen to paper or numb thumb to keyboard. 
The big news is of course that we have officially bid an emotional farewell to Wiggy after 6 months of loyal service, much to my dismay. As soon as I posted that picture of the re-sprouting bouff, I knew her days were numbered. As a result, this trip has largely been what I lovingly refer to as the 'Jean-Paul Gaultier' chapter. 
Because of course what every girl recovering from cancer treatment wants is to look like a small grey-haired gay Frenchman in a stripy T-shirt. It also does not help that every T-shirt I own is stripy. Plus I have a French degree. It turns out I virtually AM Jean-Paul Gaultier. 
It was therefore with some trepidation that I headed to Sitges in Spain for Tom & Becky’s beautiful wedding. Who knew that Sitges is in fact the gay capital of Europe and thus where better to debut the new ‘Jesus Christ, there’s just so much FACE’ Connerty / Gaultier haircut? 
Big love to the patron saint of patience Jez Clark for tolerating 3 days of me badgering and boring him with "Wig on? Wig off? Do I look aggressive? I look aggressive, don’t I? Aggressive and bald. You look scared. Right, that’s it - I’m wigging up. I can’t go to a wedding looking aggressive and bald. Where’s the wig? Oh my god, it’s so hot I might faint.” etc etc ad infinitum. 
Wig-free wedding!
So poor old Wiggy remained confined to the wardrobe for the entire trip and once I’d got through the most glamorous of Spanish weddings without anyone running screaming for the hills at the sight of the aggressive little baldy on table 6, I realised that my girls meeting me in Ibiza a few days later would sadly never get to truly experience the power of the Wiggage. 
As I write, Wiggy is sitting forlornly on a little polystyrene head, staring at me. I must say that regardless of how grateful I am to finally have a relatively decent head of hair again, I genuinely miss her straight-haired swishy disguise more than anyone will ever quite know.
What with a Spanish wedding, a week in Ibiza, a 10 day jaunt around the Scottish Highlands, an upcoming few days in NYC and of course precious downtime with friends and fam in beautiful Henley, this, without doubt, will have been a trip of epic proportions which was of course entirely my intention when I sat planning it during chemo and radiation house arrest back in Sydney. 
Ibiza with my gals (and niece)

Chasing the sunset with my Gemini twin

Beautiful sunrise on the Isle of Skye in Scotland

Seaplane-ing over Loch Lomond with the boy Trout 
Having enough time to see my favourite people when I want to, rest when I need to and get my arse into gear when I have to has made it pretty much the perfect recuperation strategy. Well done, me.
That said, it’s been interesting to come out the other side of cancer treatment and experience what I suspect I've been subconsciously preparing myself for all year. You see, the trouble with cancer, as I always saw it, was never the actual treatment itself. For me, getting through treatment surrounded by love, care and kind words was a bit like being cocooned in a snug duvet on a cold day. By contrast, I feared that the post-treatment experience would be more like getting booted out into the snow without a coat or socks. To be fair, it's not been quite as bad or dramatic as catching hypothermia but the real challenge certainly lies in the 'getting back to normal'. 
Because to be honest, ’normal’ for me nowadays is having a grey-haired/ice-blonde crop, a wonky arm and a numb hand and foot. 
’Normal’ is voluntarily taking a drug for the next 5 years that, if you believe all the potential side effects, will possibly make me one of the least eligible bachelorettes in town, if not the world.
‘Normal’ is chatting with my girlfriends about babies while my 8 eggs chill out in a North Sydney freezer. 
‘Normal’ is getting my mum to teach me how to knit as it might be good for my right hand’s reduced motor function, or in layman’s terms, my numb thumb. 
'Normal' is wearing a compression sleeve on a plane and worrying more about the risk of blood clots than which films and choc ices are on offer.
‘Normal’ is being more desperate for my physio, a hot bath and a kip than a Sav Blanc. 
‘Normal’ is breaking into a cold sweat every time I have an ache or pain because my addled and over-thinking brain says it might be cancer back again. 
My new normal is officially as mad as a bag of frogs and more importantly, it doesn't remotely resemble my old normal which makes it tricky to merge the two. 
Today, my sister tagged me in a photo from my brother-in-law’s 40th last Saturday where I’m drinking a beer. In a terribly ladylike way of course. The photo looks like a lot of other photos taken of me before this cancery tale began (hairstyle aside, obvs) and is very much, in many ways, a glimpse of the old normal. 

Yet I looked at it and thought "you shouldn’t be drinking a beer, you mug. You’ve had cancer. You should definitely be drinking nettle tea or something with turmeric in it. You shouldn’t even be out. You should be indoors, reading something about mindfulness and doing those boring arm exercises the physio gave you”…Welcome to my new normal, what a massive killjoy. 
So this new definition of normal in a post-treatment world is what I’m currently trying to clumsily navigate. Admittedly, it’s a tricky beast and so it might take a while for me to eradicate the madder bits of this new perspective on life. Sit back, relax and continue to enjoy my ever-dignified, none-too-silent ongoing struggle with that.
Till then, rest assured that while i might have taken up knitting, I am also pretty sure that I’m smashing the definition of cancer recuperation out of the park. I think there may well be actual books being written right now about how to get over cancer that feature this particular trip’s tremendous itinerary! If not, then I shall write one! 
But first I must finish knitting this tiny scarf fit for a Borrower, plan my Halloween costume for this weekend’s NYC Parade and make a little 'C’mon Lou!' banner ahead of the New York Marathon on Sunday. So goddamn BUSY right now!

VC x

My welcome home cake with scary Half-Face me...

Monday 28 September 2015


Dear Fellowship,

I am aware that many of you have recently been forced to suffer the bombardment of nauseating photos from my tremendously recuperative Spanish and Ibizan sojourn. The good news is that a blog post featuring many of those pics is coming soon - I know many tears of joy will be shed at the chance to re-live some of those beautiful sunset and beach shots over and over again so I'm happy to oblige... smile emoticon
Meanwhile I'd like to tell you about a friend of mine, Louise Shaw . Lou and I have been friends since we were 11. The usual story - she was good at maths and sport, I was useless at maths and sport so I immediately hated her. She was also in a cool gang being cool and probably skating to school in fluorescent rollerblades every day whereas I was shuffling around in my Clarks shoes being miles from cool with my massive ginger bouffante, wearing Girl Guide sweatshirts on non-uniform days, and wondering whether lacrosse, clearly the most pointless sport ever, was invented simply to torment gingers with no sense of direction.

At some point though, I eventually stopped judging Lou for being smarter, better at sport and cooler than me, I forgave her for her part in convincing me to Immac my non-existent sideburns aged 12 on a school trip to France, and despite our shaky adolescent start, we became firm friends. For the last 30 years, Lou has been in my life and this year, her support has been as unwavering as the previous 29.
Lou has always been a superior long distance runner to me, despite my attempts to mirror her achievements at school. There were only 2 occasions I beat her in the 1500m, once when she "had a knee injury" (sure) and the second when I sat on her heels strategically all the way round the track, surging forward at the last minute to overtake and beat her to the line - still my greatest sporting achievement since winning the Under-14 Non-Team Singles Tennis tournament, or as some jealous runner-up said 'the best of the rest'. Hmm. 
19 years ago, Lou ran the London Marathon in the time it normally takes me to run a bath. In a month's time, she will take on the New York Marathon in aid of Cancer Research. She is running for me, in memory of both our fabulous dads and with the eventual hope that less of us will have to start or join Facebook groups like this one in the future. 
I know not everyone will be able to sponsor Lou but if you can spare a few quid, then that would of course be sensational!
I have fallen upon my sword and agreed to take on the hardship that is being there to greet her at the Central Park finish line - prepare yourselves now for the onslaught of NYC photos... smile emoticon
Lou, you're my Forrest Gumping hero. Despite being clearly mad as a bag of frogs.

VC x

Friday 11 September 2015


Dear Fellowship,

A year in the life of the Bouff...yikes.

I'm posting this photo with a not insignificant amount of insecure, girlish trepidation but as I wandered round a service station anonymously yesterday 'sans wig' on the way to see my Mum, I thought it might finally be time to reveal the new Bouff in all her glory to my actual pals, instead of some random West Country shoppers who probably just think I'm a trendy nan, attempting to go full (Judi) Dench.

I've not wanted to focus on the hair loss shizzle too much in these musings over the last year. The few cancer blogs and books I've read labour the point so much that it can become, I believe, pretty unhelpful to those going through and facing cancer treatment as well as to those who are not.

Yes, losing your hair is not fun. But dying is worse. It's really that simple. So you stop crying about all your wasted curl products and you suck it up. You embrace the loss of the very thing you thought defined you and you discover that a head full of ringlets didn't actually define you at all. You find that actually you kind of love the simplicity of the crop and then you find a magic wig that re-defines the very perception of cancer wigs. You even learn that many people (mainly boys, you saps) prefer the wig to the Bouff but that's ok. Losers. :)

And now the Bouff is coming back. It's poking its roots cautiously over the parapet and concluding that it's safe to re-emerge. And it appears to be coming back grey or as I prefer to call it, ice-blonde. OMG. I fear that I may end up more Supergran than Judi Dench but we shall cross that bridge (and hairdressing salon) when we get there.

But my point is this: cancer is not about losing your hair, it's about not losing your life. And way back in Jan, when the diagnosis had sunk in and I learnt that my hair would need to take one for the team, I was oddly ok with it. Because when you are here, my friends, in the swirling eye of the cancery storm, you really don't care one jot about hair.

So do not get all misty-eyed about seeing the Bouff in her former glory. She is coming back in a disguise so cunning that even Hannibal from the A-Team would be impressed. (Actually she's currently in a bag in my apartment so she's still around if you want to say hi.)

Off to google 'ice blonde crops' and get some inspiration... :)


Tuesday 8 September 2015


Dear Fellowship,

So I've been back in the bosom of my homeland for 5 days and what a tremendous 120 hours they've been.

So amazing in fact that I am currently lying under my duvet fully clothed writing this with one eye closed, in a futile attempt to rest...

The holy trinity of jetlag, cancer-related fatigue and multiple emotional reunions has ensured that, since Thursday, I have been running largely on a winning combo of adrenalin and PG Tips, neither of which, I'm guessing, feature that heavily on the agreed 'how to take things easy post-treatment' guide. So I thought I'd share my own alternative tips for taking it easy below:

1. Fly Business Class back to UK

See? I was all over the 'taking it easy' thing initially! Wrote a nice blog from the comfort of the business lounge, ordered a celebratory glass of champagne, threw it all over myself within 8 seconds, ordered another one while a flustered waiter attempted to mop up first glass without making eye contact. Wolfed down a random plate of food (because it was FREE) which included pasta twirls, a new potato, some grated carrot, a beetroot and a bowl of soup. Got on plane. Found massage button on seat. So far so good.

2. Avoid wig-related stress.

Wafted about in swishy wig being all business class fabulous for first 20 mins of flight before going to loo and casually re-emerging without hair. As you do. I avoided the temptation to run out, screaming hysterically about the G-force power of the flush having whipped my hair clean off my head because I am in fact way more mature than people give me credit for.

Instead, I strolled casually back up the aisle, as if it was the most normal thing in the world to go into the loo one minute and pop out the next, sans barnet. Flipped Wiggy up into her own private overhead locker where she lay happily for the next gazillion hours.

3. Arrive home to textbook welcome

After a 24 hour flight and approx 20 hours sleep (gotta love a flatbed), I pushed my over-laden trolley through Arrivals with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye to be enveloped by my gorgeous welcoming committee. My niece Molly came running from one direction, my nephew Otis from another (although to be fair, he stopped short of flinging himself at me when he remembered that he was in fact a 7 year old #lad) and my remaining niece, 18 month old Lottie, was nowhere to be seen. Turns out she was having her own toilet dramas on the M4, much to my sister's horror.

There's an ongoing complaint in my family (by me) that no one ever gets to Heathrow arrivals in time to physically greet anyone - less 'Love, Actually', more 'love, do you mind meeting me out the front to save on parking?' - so we knew how guilty Marg would feel, having failed to make my arrival on time despite it being through no fault of her own.

Thus ensued some panicked chat where it was genuinely discussed at one point whether I could possibly go back through the arrival doors with a view to re-emerging 5 minutes later like some dazed and confused Stars in Your Eyes contestant. Madness. Instead I just hid behind a post, chucked out a lame 'surpriiiiiise' at my sis, Lottie burst into tears, everyone hugged and off we went. Phew. Special thanks to Mizz and Charl for embracing the predictable chaos so valiantly.

4. Laugh in the face of chronic jetlag

Or, as I like to call it, 'pop upstairs for a quick nap' at 11am and wake up at 7pm. Excellent 'laughing in face of jetlag' technique. I believe we went out for dinner that first night. No memory of it. I may well have been slumped face first in my burger all evening. I do remember being awake that night until 6am though. Good times.

5 days later, I'm really smashing through it and waking up as late as 4am. Sigh. That said, as a result of having been up most days with the lark, I have been able to already achieve my twin goals of dropping my niece at school and walking the dog down by the river of a morning. Nothing tests the mental strength of a cancer survivor like having to fill multiple doggie bin bags before 9am...

5. Hang out with 75,000 people in a stadium

Took my bro to see the England v Ireland game at Twickenham on Saturday - big thanks to my pal Tim for both sorting out the tickets in response to my blatant emotional blackmail from overseas and for shouting us a posh lunch too! We're of English and Irish descent but if I'm honest, Jon and I were less confused about who to support than we were about the rules of rugby in general. Football is in our Scouse blood, rugby is far too posh for us and Jon spent most of the match looking confused and asking what the score was and why. Nonetheless England won and I ditched Jon and the pub for a night in Teddington watching telly on the sofa with my buddy Lou. All about balance, innit?

6. Hang out with 200 people on a hill in London

Now then, regular readers of my ramblings will already be aware of one Greig Trout, the fabulous founder of 101 Things To Do When You Survive (www.whenyousurvive.com) but importantly, the Mr Miyage to my Karate Kid, the Lacey to my Cagney as I've navigated this cancery world with wide-eyes for the last 9 months. His friendship, advice and two-time experience himself with the old C-Bomb has been utterly invaluable to a cancer novice like me this year and I'm sure I'll be continuing to pick his brain (whilst turning a blind eye to his continual Whatsapp-based typos and grammatical errors) for years to come.

September is the month when Greig passes the 5 year mark since his last duel with the cancery troll which puts him officially and brilliantly into long-awaited remission. To mark this awesome occasion, his family, friends and followers of his 2 year blog headed to Richmond Hill on Sunday to celebrate.

What a truly tremendous day it was - the sun came out, old friends turned up, new friends were made and I got to finally put some faces to the names of people and friends of Greig who have been so generous in their support this year without even knowing me! I shall wait to see if the Fellowship numbers start to dwindle now they have finally met me in the flesh....

For me, Sunday marked the beginning of the next chapter of my life and firmly closed the door on the last several months. There were so many awesome people, young and old, who have faced and continue to face far tougher challenges than me that just chatting to them on the day reminded me once more how delighted I was to be simply sitting on the grass with my good pals taking it easy and soaking up the afternoon sun. Plus I won a raffle prize which helped....

An awesome day organised by an awesome man for an awesome cause. Nice work, Troutster - you absolutely rock. :)

Blimey - so much for scaling these posts back!! And this only covers the first 120 hours of my UK trip! This is what happens when I put 'rest' instead of 'lunch' in my diary - those who keep telling me to rest have been warned....

Right, off out to pick the niece up from school and shout 'Pair Device, for crying out loud!!!' at my deaf hire car for the 79th time.

Thanks for reading this far, Mum! :)

VC x

Wednesday 2 September 2015


Dear Fellowship,

O.M.G!!! Happiness is finding out that your friends and family have clubbed together and upgraded you from Economy to Business Class...waaaaaaaah!!!

I am completely blown away. Individual shout outs to Lyn Connerty, Liz Connerty, Magz Connerty, Jon Connerty, Charlotte Hickson, Diane Barnes, Miriam Haddu, Zena Birch, Louise Shaw, Philippa Collier, Pipa Unsworth, Athena Mandis and Liz Saunders - you are all bleedin' legends and I love you all for your ridiculous but beautiful generosity...amazing.

Regardless of the flat bed, extensive movie collection and free cheese that now awaits me, I cannot explain how grateful I am to not have to hang old Wiggy off the tray table in front of me or have the predictable awkward convo with the bloke sat next to me asking where the blonde flicky-haired glamazonian went...

Currently at the airport waiting to board a 24hr flight home. It's been the busiest week on earth so I've barely had time to contemplate this trip or even really celebrate the end of treatment! Thank you to Cathy Walters, Jez Clark and Matt Furlong for helping me turn my messy flat into an Airbnb 5* review-level show home. You have each helped prevent me from curling up into a wailing ball this week when faced with emptying out yet another cupboard...love you all to the moon.

Champagne is kicking in clearly - lots of love for everyone right now. Am getting all teary-eyed about reaching London and finally seeing my amazing friends and family after 9 long months - avoid Heathrow Airport at 7am Thursday - it will be flooded...

But before I settle back into my flatbed (swoon), I just want to say thank you to everyone in Oz who has looked after and out for me this year. Having no family around to help out and support me could have been a tough call in January but I honestly wouldn't change the decision to have my treatment here for a second. They say friends are the family you choose and this year, that has never been truer.

Thank you for every call, card, present, dinner, text, Gold Class movie and walk on the beach. Thank you for always laughing at my inappropriate cancer jokes and for not freaking out when I whipped the wig off at random intervals. Thank you for showing me how lucky I am to have found such good and generous people on both sides of the world. I couldn't have got through the last 8 months without your rallying cries so thank you for always having my back and making me excellent cups of tea. You are all sensational.

My flight is being called so you are all saved from further champagne-induced ramblings!

Australia, I will see your beautiful face in 10 weeks. UK, I'm coming to get you. Stick the kettle on...

VC x

P.S Please note awkward selfie taken in Business Lounge, 30 seconds before I spilt entire glass of champagne over myself. I now have a 24hr flight to board, stinking of booze. So rockstar right now. :)

Monday 24 August 2015


Dear Fellowship,

And so, exactly 7 months and 22 days after we began this crazy tale, we finally draw it to a close. Gulp! 
and we are done… :)

Today was the last day (I might have mentioned it once or twice along the way) of my cancer treatment plan that will hopefully mean we have seen the last of Lumpy, Lymphy and their merry band of cancery thieves for good. 
Apparently it was Oprah who once said 'Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down'. 
To be honest, this analogy doesn't really work that well for me because everyone who even vaguely knows me should be aware that I would totally get a cab if my limo broke down but let's roll with this hypothetical scenario for now. Let's imagine a world where there are no cabs, no Uber app and no man-slaves to drive me around. Horrifying. But if that world existed, THEN I would probably be forced to get a bus. If I couldn't cancel the meeting or appointment at the other end obviously. 
I digress. 
What I'm trying to say in simple terms is that I'm so, so glad that each and every one of you is on my metaphorical bus. Even if it is a bus so big it wouldn't actually be able to take a corner at speed without tipping over. 
The video I watched this morning coordinated by my amazing baby sis so beautifully and that so many of you contributed to warmed the cockles of my ginger heart. Once I'd stopped ugly crying (deleeeeete those pics), it reminded me once again how lucky I have been and still am to have my own bigger and better band of merry thieves behind me. 
The Fellowship of the Ringlets was really just an admittedly tremendous title for a Facebook group back in January but over the last 7 months and 22 days, it has become absolutely the finest sort of Fellowship. I'm grateful to every one of you for agreeing to get on the bus, without you really knowing how bumpy the ride, how far the destination or whether there were even toilets on board. (This analogy is getting out of hand.)
I have also been wondering / overthinking over the last few weeks about whether or not I should gracefully bring this Fellowship group and these musings to a close now that treatment is complete or continue to write. 
Today I proudly join an illustrious and impressive group of people who have emerged victorious from their own cancery tales and as I said in my last post, the road ahead now becomes about getting back to 'normal' when my previous normal may realistically no longer exist. 
That, in itself, feels like a pretty rich subject for me to tackle and address over the coming months or maybe it's just an excuse for me to post endless photos of me having a lovely, recuperative time in Ibiza. Ho hum...I shall work through this and let you know smile emoticon
But for now, I shall crack on with the post-cancer part of my life, which today involved clearing out my kitchen drawers in preparation for a myriad of Airbnb'ers over the next 2 months. No time for champagne in Sydney today! 
I wanted to end this post with a simple thank you to all of you for the last 8 months and I found this quote from a trusted source regarding what a fellowship truly means:

"You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin - to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours - closer than you yourself can keep it. 
But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends. 
Anyway, there it is. We are horribly afraid but we are coming with you. Or following you like hounds."
J.R.R Tolkein, The Fellowship of the Rings 

Thank you all for following me like hounds.

VC x
P.s link to the vid below - waaaaaaaaaaaah!!! xxx
Password : cancerbye

Pre-radio coffee with the man-slaves


Breakfast Team

Sunburn Sue
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Thursday 20 August 2015


Dear Fellowship,

28 radiation blasts down, 2 to go! The finishing line is finally within touching distance...yikes. 
As these last few days have crept ever nearer, I've noticed that I've been increasingly pinballing between a sense of massive euphoria that I'm nearly done followed by a heart-stopping little panic at the thought of having to re-introduce myself back into normal society. 
The merry-go-round of treatment and specialists and dramas and drugs over the last 8 months, whilst overwhelming at times, has also unwittingly provided me with a little protective cancery cocoon. It's strange and even a little sad to think that from Tuesday, I won't have to traipse up to the hospital, skinny latte in hand, for my daily dose of radiation from Sunburn Steve.
I've got quite used to sitting in the radiotherapy waiting-room, reading my book or watching eye-wateringly bad infomercials for life insurance on TV. I've also met some good people over the last 6 weeks, some of whom are dealing with far more dire situations than mine - if you want to get some perspective on the important things in life, then a radiotherapy waiting-room is the place to hang out, kids. 
I've become so used to being monitored and checked and prodded and MRI'd and asked how I am that I feel almost institutionalised by the non-stop care I've received this year. Imagine, if you will, Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption, finally being released from prison after 25 years and standing on the street, wondering what to do next. I'm a bit like that, but with less bouff. And younger. And more importantly, not a murderer. 
Rubbish analogies aside, I'm definitely hitting what I like to call the Hysteria chapter of this cancery tale. This is the part where rationale goes out of the window and batshit crazy VC turns up, shouts a lot and then sulks in the corner, rolling her eyes like a pre-pubescent teenager.
This week I had to go for my final visit with Dr Dear to chat about the lovely hormone drug I have to take for the next 5 years. Unlike the radiotherapy waiting room where there's no phone signal so I am forced to read a book or watch adverts for life and funeral insurance, there is more phone signal than you can shake a stick at over at Dr Dear's place. As it turns out, phone reception, access to the internet and a 30 minute wait during Hysteria Week are not a good combo. 
To give you some context, this week I have largely (and wholly irrationally) been stressing and obsessing over the rate at which my hair is growing back. It's been 7 weeks since my last chemo sesh and my hair is definitely growing back. Bless the Bouff. It's been through a lot this year. It's coming back very blonde (or grey, depending on my optimism levels) but it's coming back. These are the facts. However, I relay this information to you from the cosy Armchair of Common Sense that I'm now thankfully relaxing in. 
Earlier in the week however, while languishing in the Rollercoaster of Negativity at the peak of Hysteria Week and sitting in Dr Dear's chemo waiting room surrounded by people wearing beanies, I became convinced that actually it wasn't growing back at all. And as a result of it not growing back properly, I would clearly be forced to spend the rest of my days wrestling with a transparent and thinning strawberry blonde combover, looking like a horrifying cross between Donald Trump and Benjamin Button. I would never enjoy absent-minded ringlet-twirling again, I'd be forced to wig up forever and I would definitely never find a willing father for my frozen octuplets. 
So, faced with this hideous prospect, I'm ashamed to say I broke my own golden rule and frantically googled 'how long till hair grows back post-chemo?'. Oh dear. 30 minutes and multiple forums later with the unwanted advice from the likes of Janice in Colorado and Helen in Northumberland ringing in my ears, I was resigned to my inevitable fate as a 42 year old woman with permanent male pattern baldness. Blimey.
5 minutes later and I was slumped in a chair in Dr Dear's office with my arms folded, sulking about my male pattern baldness while she told me all about the side effects of the hormone drug I have to start following the end of radiation. Normally, I tend to zone out during side effect chat but this time I was listening intently and waiting for her to mention 'hair thinning' - Janice in Colorado on the Forum of Doom had informed me that this hormone drug also causes hair-thinning, just to add to my Hysteria Week woes, so even if the Bouff comes back it will drop off instantly.

Finally Dr Dear finished the side effect chat, at which point I triumphantly brandished my 'a-ha! you missed out hair thinning!' card. She looked at me like I was quite mad, at which point I confessed I'd spent 30 minutes Googling like a madwoman in her waiting room. There is nothing a medical professional hates more than a Googler but good old Dr Dear hid it well. Even when I whipped old Wiggy off and forced her to give me her honest opinion on my hair growth, she gently reassured me that all was well and that the Bouff is clearly and slowly but surely on its way back to the Connerty head. 
Hysteria Week has now thankfully drawn to a close but it's made me very aware that as the final day of treatment approaches, the real test will begin. Navigating the treatment itself and keeping a calm head over the last 8 months has been challenging but holding a steady course and staying mentally on top of my game now I'm 'fixed' will,I think, be the true test. 
My acupuncturist (yes I have one of those now too) asked me this week, while he stabbed my numb foot repeatedly with needles, if I thought this year had changed me at all. Initially I said no. I told him that I felt the same, this year hadbeen utterly surreal, my perspective on certain things had definitely changed but fundamentally I was the same person. Then I went away and thought about it some more and now I'm not so sure. 
You can't submerge yourself entirely in this cancery world for months on end, look behind the curtain, see all there is to see, experience all there is to experience and then walk away, unchanged and unaffected. 
That doesn't mean I have to or want to spend the rest of my days talking about cancer or thinking about cancer or writing about cancer but it does mean that, thanks to this mad year, I don't sweat the small stuff as much as I used to. It does mean that I value family and friendship even more than I did and it does make me nauseatingly grateful for the smallest things, such as being able to hold a pen and write my own name again!! Wahay! 
On Monday, after my last radiation, a few of us will have a little celebratory breakfast and wave goodbye to the last 8 months. There will most certainly be tears as I'm welling up even thinking about it (!) and we will draw this ‪#‎radiohead‬ chapter to a close. 
Special thanks to all those tremendous friends and family who got me through Hysteria Week, and shout out to my buddy Lou whose wise words (and gorgeous daughter shouting 'I wuv you Vicki' in the background of our call) got me back on the straight and narrow. 
See you at the finish line, my friends. Phew. :)

VC x
P.S As you can see from the pic, I'm so nailing this floristry shizzle...