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 20 January 2015


The greatest man-slaves in the world. (L-R Matt, Chris and Jezza)

Dear Fellowship, 

Officially one week post-surgery and what a week it’s been.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t had too many weeks in the last few years where I’ve low-fived myself (Limpy still refuses to hi-five) for safety-pinning my lymph drain tube to the shower curtain (with one hand, people – skills) so that I could finally take a shower without calling the panic-stricken Jaysun. Nor did I ever think I would experience the unparalleled joy that was my being upgraded to the hospital food ‘service list’ where all my meals suddenly began arriving cut up with my bread pre-buttered to avoid the escalating awkwardness of my left-handed table manners. Kicking goals in Room 804.

Limpy is sadly still in residence and my right arm remains a shadow of its former self. I have a fearsome grip but no bicep strength whatsoever – the only way to shake hands with someone at the moment is essentially to swing my arm like a club into their welcoming hand and then hold on for dear life. I have been practising it with some lucky visitors this week much to their horror – almost worth popping into work to try it out on some of my more unreasonable clients…

Still trying to get to the bottom of the arm situation especially as I’m discovering more things my right hand was good at – getting dressed, signing forms, putting headphones on, driving, pointing at things, opening tins of cat food, helping me not drown in a swimming pool etc. My head has been spinning with jargon but as of a nice visit to physio today, I know that my C5 vertebrae was put under pressure in the op. In simple terms, this pressure in turned caused the nerves coming from C5 and the surrounding C4 and C6-related nerves (they’re all mates) to have a sulk (neuropraxia) and so now only bits of my right arm are remotely interested in getting up in the morning.

The good news is that my hand works but is so pins and needle-y it feels like someone else’s hand (I keep getting startled by my own thumb – weird) and my tricep is also starting to work a bit. Unfortunately, without the bicep working which I need to lift the arm and which is pretty much all C5-related nerve, my right arm is essentially an inanimate useless limb. They are now talking 12 weeks until full use returns and that’s if I do my thrice-daily exercises which are so dull that they’re probably what drove my arm to sleep in the first place.

However, news just in - regardless of Limpy and his extended leave, we do have a bit of a Good Newsday Tuesday. My Pathology results from the op came back early today – in essence, Dave smashed it out of the park and Lumpy is officially no more! No traces of the primary cancery troll remain and therefore no need for any more boob surgery! Wahay! So now that there’s officially no more surgery beckoning, we can crack on with taking down Lymphy and his little pals.

So all in all, a bonkers week. I meet the oncologist next week to talk about the joys of chemo and radiotherapy but before then I have a delightful Aussie Day weekend of downtime in Jervis Bay locked in with my favourite man-slaves to enjoy!

As always, the last few days would have been profoundly more average without the ever-present support of the Fellowship. I must apologise to those who have been on the receiving end of my growing frustration and impatience with Limpy (you know who you are) and thankyou for resisting the urge to knock some sense into me with my own inanimate limb. Massive thanks to everyone who came to visit me, sorry I constantly messed up the times so you all frequently turned up together and had to squash up awkwardly on my bed and introduce yourselves to each other.

Thanks for my beautiful flowers, amazing gifts, awesome cards and ongoing delightful messages of support – I would be getting the right arse with constant Fellowship notifications and seeing a curly bonce in my newsfeed every 10 secs but loving that you are all gritting your teeth and pretending not to mind…

Today I am grateful for a lot but most of all, I’m grateful to Dr Dave and the steady hand that ended Lumpy’s short reign in the Kingdom of Connerty.

1-0 to us.


After a week in hospital captivity, freedom beckons...

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