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

Tuesday 6 January 2015


Dear Fellowship, 

So after 4 surreal days of post-cancer diagnosis madness, I found myself sitting in St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney with a cannula in my arm, drinking luminous drinks so that my insides lit up like a Christmas tree ahead of the CT and bone scans that will reveal whether Lumpy and Lymphy have any little pals roaming around the Connerty ecosystem*.

I was also radioactive for 12 hours which meant my pregnant wingwoman Soph was forced to make a swift exit as they said 'no VC, you probably shouldn't be around kids what with being radioactive’ - thanks to Soph for not going ‘waaaaaah’ too obviously and to Clare Robinson for ably stepping into the breach at short notice and pandering to my every whim. "I think I'd like chicken. Roast chicken. And gravy. And some veg. And hummus. And bread. And some milk for my tea". Poor Robbo. This is why I need the biggest support network ever. Largely so you can all support each other through this testing time as my demands and levels of emotional blackmail grow ever more outrageous.

I've been pushing for these scans since Saturday when I suddenly realised that I actually had very little info from my amazing GP Jacqui. Not her fault but 24 hours post-diagnosis, the control freak in me kicked in alongside my ever-over active imagination. Not a fabulous combination. By Sat evening, halfway through The Imitation Game (Cumberbatch on fine form as ever), I became convinced I was positively RIDDLED with Lymphy, Lumpy and their merry band of cancery thieves.

Thankyou to my old boss, mentor, legend of calm and fellow cancer-kicker Fishy for talking me down off the ceiling late on Saturday night. Fish has been kicking Hodgkins Lymphoma to the kerb over the last 6 months and has so impressed me with his resilience and approach to tackling it that I would be a fool if I didn't at least try to follow his lead to some degree. That said, he built a shed and a drone and started aeronautics training during his treatment period. I can confirm I will be doing none of the above. Clearly, he is also mad.

The last 4 days have been fairly full-on to say the least. You know when you've said the word 'breast' with a straight face to your CEO more than 5 times in one conversation that shit just got very real but stuff is starting to move along finally.

The Fellowship of the Ringlets i.e you lot, have been nothing short of sensational and I continue to be amazed by and grateful for the tremendous folk I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by at this very strange time. Please remind yourselves of this gratitude when I'm grumpy as all hell over the coming months, am failing to respond to texts, making spurious demands and you are wondering what you signed up for. Also loving that my UK friends and fam are connecting with my Aussie friends and fam, although my raging FOMO (fear of missing out, for the old people reading this) makes me want to be cc'd on ALL correspondence! Final thanks of the day goes to my brothers from other mothers Jezza and Matt who continue to astound me with their generosity, love and ability to smash out the best home cooked meals ever.

I'm not sure how these updates / musings will progress (they could well just peter out into just random swear words) but for now, I just want somewhere to write some stuff down and give you somewhere to go to know that I'm alright, still scaring people, probably being wholly inappropriate about cancer and importantly not drowning in a bucket of tears.

Meeting with Dave the boob surgeon on Friday to discuss strategic plan of attack on Lumpy and Lymphy - he is by all accounts a total legend so I am hopeful he will be my man with a damn good plan.

VC x

*Update 7 Jan 3pm: GP Jacqui the amazing cancer-detector just called. Results of the scans are in and CT and bone scans are both clear, so it looks like Lumpy and Lymphy are flying solo. I don’t want to lower the tone of these updates but thank FUCK! (sorry, Mum).

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