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 2 June 2015


Dear Fellowship,

Chemo #5 - tick! One more to go, my friends and we are DONE!! Wahay! 

Some inevitable minor league dramas yesterday when my routine pre-chemo blood test revealed my neutrophil (the cells that fight infection and ward off germs) count was at a lowly 0.1. 
I had no idea what that meant of course, but you know when you get a anxious-sounding voicemail from Dr Dear the night before chemo that all is not well. 
Basically, the chemo folk like your neutrophil count to be at at least 2.0 pre-chemo - 0.1 means that if a ladybird sneezes on you, you could be laid up in hospital with a raging fever for a week. Or something. 
Anyway, I was dragged back in for another blood test this morning in the hope that my neutrophil minions had got their act together overnight. Then ensued lots of serious chats with Dr Dear about delaying this round of chemo, dropping the dosage etc, neither option being ideal with everyone ultimately just crossing fingers and hoping for a better blood result today. 
I was somewhat confused as to why I felt so bloody good when internally I was apparently as vulnerable as a newborn gerbil. Popped off to do some baby whispering with my friend Caroline and baby Violet and then came the call to say that oops sorry, actually they'd given me the wrong results yesterday and my count was actually 4.3. Sigh. 
So chemo was back on. More comedy moments when it took 4 attempts this time (new record) to get a canula in my veins. Darren, who trains the other nurses how to insert canulas in veins eventually came wafting over confidently, made 2 failed attempts and went off to kick some recycling bins in a rage while his protégée Joy was next to have a go (prior to the bird off reception probably) and nailed it. Smug Joy is now her new nickname. Darren has become Shit Darren - she loved it, him not so much...
Anyway, big love and thanks to my briefly-returned man-slave just over from Singapore Chris Stephenson to do his rightful stint as chemo supporter for Chemo #5. 
Witnessing me getting stuck like a pig four times and then performing an excellent watery-eyed bottom lip tremble during ice gloves hideousness can't have been easy but he rolled with it like a pro. Thank you, Christopher and delightful to have you back carrying my stuff around again! Love you. 
So there we are - Chemo #5 all done and now I shall retire from public life for a few days to take my pills properly this time, avoid climbing Harbour Bridges and keep my eye firmly on the prize. Which is of course that I have one more of these and then we're done. Phew! 
See you on the flipside...

VC x

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