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

Wednesday 4 February 2015


Cancer arse-kickers reunited!

Our view from our perfect Bannockburn hideaway

Dear Fellowship, 

Kia Ora from New Zealand on World Cancer Day, my friends!

So, rather than mooch about the flat and Surry Hills for another week as the clock ticks down to T-Day on Monday and all the madness that will doubtless follow, I have taken myself off for a few days of R&R to see one of my favourite people in one of my favourite places.

I landed in beautiful Queenstown today and am soaking up some mountain air, mirrored lakes and apparently Puzzle World (not my idea - I am not 12) for the next few days with the Mr Miyagi to my Karate Kid and the veritable High Priest of Cancer Arse Kicking, Mr Greig '101' Trout, founder of www.whenyousurvive.com 

Our main aim over the next few days is to do as little as possible which is working out better for me than Greig so far - unfortunately the chopping of veg, making of tea, cooking of dinner and washing up of plates are duties that can only really be done safely and properly with two functioning arms. Who knew?

A rare shot of GT at the stove
The journey here was inevitably not without its challenges - my physio advised me to get myself a delightful flesh-coloured compression sleeve for the trip, just to add to the already woeful appearance of my right limb. Due to the lymph node removal, I am now at risk (as is everyone who loses nodes) of lymphodema which is basically when your arm swells up to ludicrous Popeye-esque proportions. Unbelievable really that a month ago my right arm was my pride and joy, lifting weights and hailing cabs like a boss and now I have to carry it onto planes looking like a ventriloquist's low-budget sock puppet.

Prior to boarding, I'd had to ask some hapless Qantas employee in the lounge to help me actually get the sleeve on over Limpy - let's just say it would have taken less time and effort to blow up 6 balloons, craft a sausage dog out of them before attempting to poke said work of balloon art through a tiny keyhole. Thank god for my Platinum Frequent Flyer status that forced staff to go beyond the call of duty or I suspect I'd still be grappling with my own arm in the departure lounge, 12 hours on...

Update on Limpy - had EMG / nerve test / electrocution thing yesterday. I was joking on Saturday when I referred to it as electrocution - turns out the joke was on me. I was essentially electrocuted for 40 mins, the initial harmless electrodes were replaced by massive electric-shocking needles jabbed into my arm muscles. If I'd had any secrets that my neurologist would have been interested in, I'd have given them up in a heartbeat.

The good news is that the EMG showed that the nerves are all still intact (though some of them are clearly as weak as kittens) so I won't have to deal with what sounded like truly hideous surgery involving nerve grafts, bionic arms (probably) etc - phew. Less good news is that he reckons it'll be a good 3 months till Limpy is rehabilitated and ready to re-enter society. But I'll take this as the win.

Til then, prepare to find me rocking the sling, tying my bikini with my teeth and swimming in one-armed circles like a goddamn pro.

Over and out from NZ,

VC x

Mountain ranges, rivers and vineyards. What's not to love?

Last night with this goon x

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