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

Monday 12 January 2015


Dear Fellowship, 

So here we are - the eve of what will become my 'new normal' for the next few months.

Tomorrow at about lunchtime, Dave the boob man will ask Lumpy and Lymphy politely for ID before hauling them up by their collars and unceremoniously booting them both out of my private club and onto the streets where they belong.

What is actually happening (for those confused by my rambling analogy) is that I'm having what is known in the trade as a partial mastectomy tomorrow. This means Lumpy is currently small enough to evict from the premises without Dave needing to do any major renovation/ reconstruction etc. There is a 20% chance Lumpy may be fatter than he appears on screen - my Pathology pals will determine this over the next week - in which case we might need to re-visit but the odds are pretty good apparently based on my lack of family breast cancer history combined with my youthful good looks (I made that last one up) - fingers crossed Lumpy hasn't had too long hanging out in there to graffiti the walls in marker pen...

As for Lymphy, he will also be popped in the post to Pathology along with 14 of his node colleagues - depending on how many of them look dodgy will effectively determine my chemo and radiotherapy treatment. Obviously I'm hoping Lymphy is just Lumpy's sad little loser mate in shit trainers with a rubbish haircut and no friends of his own.

I'll be in hospital apparently for about 2-5 days. I've downloaded enough box sets and books to last 2-5 years so I'm quite annoyed they'll probably want me to leave by the weekend. I have been practicing my 'I'm not sure I'm well enough, doctor' face and it's coming on a treat...

Evil corporate giant rant alert - Bupa are the Voldemort to my Harry Potter today after telling the hospital this morning (24 hrs pre-op) that I wasn't covered for my hospital stay unless I proved my cancer wasn't a pre-existing condition when I upped my cover with them in July last year. The process for this is that my surgeon and GP have to now confirm it wasn't pre-existing, Bupa then spend 5 days 'assessing' whether they genuinely think I secretly knew I had cancer in July, changed my policy like the cunning fox I am and then waited 6 whole months to mention it just to get a private room after surgery. Then after 5 working days they will presumably arrive at the conclusion that they are outrageous charlatans preying on the sick, weak and feeble and pay out.

I confess my usual calm and Zen-like demeanour was somewhat disturbed by this news - poor old Jade in the Bupa call centre is probably still lying trembling in a darkened room somewhere with a cold flannel over her eyes following our little chat. All sorted now, thanks to some very generous individuals who I owe bigtime (literally) but no thanks to Bupa. Avoid them like the plague, my friends....

So, this time tomorrow I'll be hopefully watching some quality content and bossing people about from the luxury of my hospital bed while Lumpy and Lymphy will be lying disgruntled on some petri-dish somewhere, having a little think about whether turning up at my gaff uninvited was a good idea after all.
Thanks as always for all your good luck messages, texts and calls today - it was a bit weird writing 'I will now be out of the office for the foreseeable future' today when I feel completely fine but I feel that all will ultimately be well. Dr Dave is a top man and will look after me. He does have a bit of a stutter though which is quite sweet as long as it doesn't extend to his scalpel hand... 

Wish me luck, Fellowship and see you on the flipside!

VC x

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