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 14 July 2015


Dear Fellowship, 

So after a delightful weekend in NZ with the team and a false start yesterday, Radiation #1 kicked off this arvo instead. 1 down, 29 to go. Yikes.

Got a call late Friday to say they'd be postponing Monday's kick-off sesh by a day because they "weren't ready" - now I don't know much about this old radiation process but I do know that it's probably better that the folk hitting me with daily bursts of radiation are completely ready as opposed to all standing around looking a bit confused, daring each other to hit the red button...

So this morning was locked in. At least till yesterday evening when I got another phone call that started with 'Hello, it's St Vincent's Radiation unit here....Um, now why am I ringing?'. I suggested with a tiny amount of sarcasm that it might be because I was due to have radiation in 12 hours which seemed to jolt her memory, at which point she asked me to come in in the afternoon as opposed to the morning. A lie-in - lovely.

Had a quick chat with Sunburn Sue pre-radio about the results of an MRI she sent me for a week or so ago. At the time, she told me she wanted to look at Limpy's progress since January which seemed fairly sensible in light of them wanting to smash the lazy limb with a load of nerve-jangling radiation for the next 6 weeks. Today I asked what the MRI showed up and she confirmed that Limpy was definitely looking much improved but the good news was that "there was no signs of any tumour".

 I'm sorry, what?! When did we start checking for tumours under the pretext of just giving Limpy a cheeky MRI?! Gaaaah!

"Yep, we injected you with dye that would show up any tumours and it didn't show up anything, so happy days, let's crack on." Blimey.

She didn't actually say 'happy days, let's crack on' but that was the overriding sentiment. And I suppose it obviously is good news, even though I didn't actually know they were secretly looking for tumours, whilst claiming to be checking out poor old, much-maligned Limpy. That's the last time I say 'yeah go on then' when someone offers to stick me in a giant metal tube for 100 minutes...

The radiation itself was all fine and literally took 6 short minutes. My radiation techie for the next 6 weeks is a nice bloke called Richard. So he's now Radiation Rich, obviously. They're making these nicknames too easy for my bored little #chemobrain really. When it was finished, Rich then came back in and at my request, spent 5 mins explaining how it all worked, where the radiation came from, how apparently it's easiest and less invasive to apply radiation to things that stick out like boobs etc. All very interesting but  you know you're living in a parallel universe when you're having a lively discussion about radiation whilst lying on a table with your wig off and boobs out. Dear oh dear. Where did my British sense of decorum and dignity go?! Sigh. :)

Special thanks today to my amazing pal and Gemini twin Charl who has secretly spent the best part of 6 long months searching, cutting out and glueing the best inspirational and kick-ass quotes she could find into an enormous book for me ahead of these 30 days of radiation.

Like a radiation-loving Ron Weasley, I have been instructed to open this beautiful Book of Spells every day at a random point and take inspiration and strength from whatever I find on the pages. Below was today's! Love this so much and thank you Charl for neglecting your beautiful first-born daughter to create this mighty tome just for me - I will treasure it forever!

So in short, all is well back at Casa Victoire, I'm currently making a cottage pie and am glad to have kicked off the final part of this puzzle!

Gotta go chop some onions and peel some potatoes - til the next time...


VC #radiohead x

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