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 24 April 2015


Dear Fellowship,

Finally! I'm a motivational tool for people who like exercising and stuff! Soon I shall bring out my own one-armed fitness video! It shall be immense! 
Some kind words below from my long-suffering friend and new trainer Rich, written in an attempt to guilt his proper paying clients out of bed and down to the beach at 6am for daily training. Good luck with that, Richard Overstall
I'm not loving the pics - the combo of cap, baldy head and angry little punching face is not my finest of looks - but I've put my vanity to one side momentarily in the hope that I look back at these in a few months and say 'blimey, day 3 post chemo #3 and I was kickboxing on Bondi Beach. What an absolute eejit'.


Wednesday 22 April 2015


Dear Fellowship,

We've officially reached chemo halfway house, my friends. Wahay! 
Round 3 done and dusted and appropriately dramatic cyclone warning weather to mark the occasion! Hence the blurry photo and me shouting 'just take the bloody thing and let's get outta here!'...
Thanks for all your love and support so far - it's been immense and heartwarming and delightful and has without a doubt helped me get through this first chemo trilogy. Too many 'ands' in that sentence for my liking but I'm letting it go...
Only another 9 weeks and chemo will be history. 
Special thanks to my buddy Ryan for coming along for the 4hr ride at such short notice - you're a star!


Monday 20 April 2015


Dear Fellowship,

Way back in Jan, when I was just getting my confused face and curly bonce around all this brand new cancer shizzle, my friend Jo messaged me. 
She told me she had signed up to run the Great Wall of China Marathon in May (as you do if you are 98% mad and enjoy climbing up 5,164 steps for fun) and that in the wake of my cancery news, she wanted to raise money for a charity of my choice. What an amazing gesture from a top bird.

The Great Wall of China Marathon madness

I thought long and hard about which charity to choose. The obvious choice would have been a breast cancer charity I guess, but in the end, I asked her to run on behalf of the MS Society. 
My amazing mum Lyn was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2004. A radiographer by trade, she had enough medical knowledge to know what her symptoms probably meant before she officially got the results. Her four kids on the other hand were totally oblivious and pretty terrified when she told us - we didn't know what MS stood for, what it looked like or what the future held for us all and I suspect this is still the case for lots of families across the globe. 
More than ten years on and Mum is still doing a monumental job of refusing to bow down to MS and its ongoing effects. Alongside my dad, she too is a shining example of how to get up every day and just get on with life, regardless of what gets thrown at us along the way. 
Having Limpy (literally) hanging around for the last 3 months has been fairly annoying but I always believed the feeling and movement in my arm would eventually return which I'm happy to say (after a fair amount of physio and a number of stern talking-to's) is thankfully starting to happen. It seems poor old Limpy's days are finally numbered! 
I'm lucky though - by comparison, MS is a degenerative disease and sufferers just have to tolerate and adapt to their ongoing and worsening symptoms. There is still no cure and like cancer, early detection and preventative research is critical.
Over the last few months, lots of you have asked me if I need anything or if there's anything you can do, which has been tremendous. There really isn't anything I'm lacking - your support and generosity has already been overwhelming - but if you do have a few spare quid or if MS is as close to your heart as it is to mine, then I would be hugely grateful if you could find time to click the link below and sponsor Jo and her friend Lucie.


Never one to let her MS dictate or hamper her plans, Mum has been over to Australia twice in the last few years to visit and is coming out again in less than a fortnight with the rest of my Connerty clan. I cannot WAIT to see them all descend onto Australian soil (there will doubtless be tears at Sydney Airport on the 3rd of May - not from me obviously, I'm hardcore) although I fear, currently looking out of the window at torrential rain, that I may spend most of the time explaining to my disappointed niece that despite rumours to the contrary, it isn't actually sunny in Oz all the time…

The clan, then and now(ish)
Meanwhile it's Chemo #3 tomorrow, the last of this current drug cocktail and therefore the official halfway point in the old chemo treatment plan. Boom! My usual man-slaves are taking a well-earned break in both Europe and the slightly less glamorous Melbourne so I have drafted in my friend Ryan as a replacement who's just popped over from the UK for work. What better end to his trip than 4 hours in a cancer centre watching me get chemo'd?! Thanks Rhino! :)

I still feel really good at the moment so fingers crossed that this continues beyond tomorrow. Meanwhile, I have Netflix, Apple TV, Foxtel and a brand new 50" TV (it's like having the Moonlight Cinema in my living room - ridiculous) to keep me occupied during this restful week - frankly, I may never leave the house again…

See you on the flipside of Chemo #3!


Monday 13 April 2015


Dear Fellowship,

Below is one of my favourite photos of me and my dad. I think we were attempting to take my first passport photo - who knows what Mum was thinking, letting us two clowns wander unsupervised into a photo booth though the fact I still have the original set of 4 photos means a re-shoot probably took place…
RMC & VC - 70's selfie

We lost the inimitable RMC, his razor-sharp wit and eclectic sense of style (he remains the only man in the world who could somehow make wearing yellow trousers seem entirely acceptable in modern society) to stomach cancer in 2002. 
He would (no doubt with great reluctance) have turned 72 today and it's testament to the incredible man he was and the gaping hole he left in the lives of those that knew and loved him that 13 years feels like no time at all.
Unsurprisingly, I've thought about Dad a lot over the last few months, both in terms of wishing that he was still around to lend a comforting paternal shoulder during my occasional 'waaaah' moments but also because I've come to realise that his own outrageously high levels of style, dignity and humour set me the best ever example of how to approach this current cancery challenge. 
I'm not sure I'm actually achieving all three of these elements in equal measure right now but a girl's got to have something to aim for, right?! 
With that in mind, on Saturday night, Wiggy and I ventured boldly out to Bondi for my friends Matt, Rob and Ryan's joint birthday bash. I was a bit anxious about Wiggy's first evening engagement, especially in the presence of a bevy of twenty-something Bondi beauties whose swishy shiny hair probably hadn't spent the day casually plonked on a polystyrene head but I took a deep breath, manned up, wigged up, did a few stretches with Limpy and pushed off to the beach. 

With the boys - Wiggy's big night out

The party was sensational (Happy Birthday, boys!), the Bondi beauties were delightful and Wiggy went down a storm. Almost too well, actually. I'm sure I could feel the Bouff bristling in rage at the roots every time someone said "Oh my god, I LOVE the hair!". I had kind of assumed that most people knew that I was wigged up so when I bumped into the singer from my friends' wedding at the bar, I wasn't overly surprised when he also said "I LOVE the hair!". Things took a slightly more confusing turn when he then went on to say "It must have taken you ages to straighten it". Hmmm. 
Now, there were two very clear paths for me to consider taking at that point: 
1. Smile sweetly and agree that yes indeed, it DID take a while to straighten and walk away with dignity, style and good humour
2. Be me. 
So I leant in, shouting over the music "I haven't straightened it! It's a wig! I'm having chemo! I'm almost as bald as you are under here! I'm also boiling to death but that could just be the hot flushes from all the hormone drugs I'm on! I'll have a fresh lime and soda please!". 
Then I watched as his innocent little face froze in horror as the cancer penny slowly dropped. Ho hum. Brand new levels of awkward reached in 8 seconds with dignity and style nowhere to be seen. Must try harder next time. Sigh. 
In other news, it's been nearly a fortnight and I think I've been lucky enough to have so far escaped chemo #2 relatively unscathed again. Some people, god love 'em, do like to continually remind me it's cumulative but so far the anti-nausea drugs seem to be doing their job brilliantly and I'm not feeling too wiped out at the moment, although I suspect not drinking, not being at work combined with my little daytime nanna naps are all doing their bit. In your face, chemo! 
Somewhat more bizarre is that the Bouff, despite it now officially being Day 33, is still showing no signs of moving out anytime soon. I suspect the appearance of the wig has stirred up some competitive follicular spirit - not sure the ginger 'Annie Lennox circa 1983' look I'm sporting is a deadset long-term winner but go, the stubborn ringlets! 
Finally, my Australian citizenship application was officially lodged today, 7 years to the very day since I left the UK for unknown foreign shores with just a rucksack, my CV and a winning smile. The whole citizenship process normally takes about 3 months so hopefully I should be able to celebrate the end of my treatment in August as a fully-fledged Aussie with a brand new passport and a clean bill of health! 
More importantly, Wiggy will be immortalised in all her shiny, swishy glory within the pages of that Aussie passport for the next 10 years. Yikes. Personally, I cannot WAIT for 10 long, torturous years of shouting "For crying out loud, I'm not Jason bloody Bourne - it's a wig, you fools!!" at the confused faces and raised eyebrows of every customs officer I meet. Good times. Laden with style, dignity and humour of course. smile emoticon
Big love to my family today and Happy 72nd Birthday, Dad - I miss you, your yellow trousers and your unapologetic love for an 80's classic track every single day.


Dad and the infamous yellow trousers on the golf course