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 2 January 2015


Cat in a wig. The light in the dark that every cancer diagnosis deserves. 
Dear Fellowship, 

So today I got my laminated membership card to the most exclusive but least sought-after club in town. The Cancer Club. Now normally I'm a sucker for a private member's club but I'm still not sure if I want to keep this one. Annoyingly, the first rule of Cancer Club is that you don't get to choose apparently. Typical.

On the second day of 2015, I was told that the results of a cheeky biopsy on Christmas Eve (excellent timing) showed that cancer was apparently lurking in my right boob and had also turned up in my lymph nodes.

I don’t even really know what a lymph node is or what it actually does but I'm pretty sure that a cancery one is not a good thing. I would Google it but I've banned myself from Googling anything related to boobs, lymphs or cancer. The only things I'm allowed to Google for the foreseeable future are pictures of cats in wigs. Try Googling 'cats in wigs' and not crying with laughter. It is physically impossible. Fact.

The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur and by that I don’t mean I’ve been worrying myself senseless, I mean I've been really busy with work / media lunches, Christmas planning, panic buying absolute crap for people online, having a mini-nervous breakdown in town the day before Christmas Eve over whether to buy my gay friend a bow-tie or a pair of tailored shorts, the usual 1st world problems I face on a daily basis…

Despite the solemn-sounding biopsy, I wasn't even really thinking about the possibility of cancer at all. I popped to the GP a couple of weeks earlier, grumbling about the reminder letter for my 2 yearly smear test (delightful) and then this very nice doc asked if I'd like a breast check at the same time. So off she went. And she found something pretty quickly. I thought she was probably just being over-zealous. Maybe she was new. Maybe she hadn't done one before and was just having a crack.

And so it began. 'Cautionary' boob check followed by 'cautionary' ultrasound. 'Cautionary' ultrasound followed by 'cautionary' mammogram (where they essentially squash your boobs in between what is basically a fancy sandwich press and take pictures - the least sexy topless shoot in the world by the way) 'Cautionary' mammogram followed by 'cautionary' core biopsy to lumpy boob (Me to GP: What’s a core biopsy? GP to me: You know what an apple corer is? Me to GP: STOP TALKING!!) and FNA (Fine Needle Application = not an apple corer) to the lymph. Every girl’s Christmas dream!

And so 2 days into 2015, it turned out that the little cancer dwarfs Lumpy and Lymphy (as I shall affectionately call them) are actually attempting to wreak havoc in the calm and orderly Kingdom of Connerty. Unbelievable. Especially when I’d just tidied up and taken the tree down.

Telling people the news today was utterly surreal but listening to their wise words and reassurances did make me feel better. Some have been pragmatic, some have been tearful, some have offered advice, some have remained silent and just listened to me rambling on but every single one of them has helped me in some way and I already know I chose this merry band well.

I am probably going to be really quite grumpy at times over the next few months but I'm also going to follow a dear friend's advice and try and be grateful for at least one thing every day, once I'm done being grumpy. So today, I am grateful for my support crew who sit in all corners of the globe and I'm grateful that I don't have to kick the shit out of Lumpy and Lymphy on my own.

VC x

p.s thanks to my niece Lottie for this perfect pose in her new low key T-shirt!! xxx

The youngest of our clan joins the Fellowship

No comments:

Post a Comment