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

Thursday 5 March 2015


Dear Fellowship, 

So it's with a heavy heart that I sit down to write this little post. It's Bye Bye to the Connerty Bouff Day tomorrow when decades of absent-minded ringlet-twirling and hairdryer-avoiding will finally come to an end.
I made the decision a few weeks ago to take control of this inevitable hair loss situation (despite numerous wheedling attempts to find a way out of it) before chemo has a crack and so booked an appointment to get it all cut off ahead of my first sesh next Tuesday.

Unsurprisingly, this has been the toughest and most head-spinning of weeks so far for me I think as I stand on the edge of the chemo precipice, but the Bouff and I have been spending some quality time together, just hanging out in caf├ęs, buying juices, kicking leaves about in the park, going for long walks and laughing at Limpy's pathetic attempt at breaststroke in the pool. We've had a great last week reminiscing about old times and typically, the ringlets have never looked better. Manipulative little follicles.

My friend Cath and I went on a wig-exploring expedition last week to check out the lay of the synthetic hairpiece land. A lot of friends, after I rejected trying cold caps to try and keep my hair then suggested that I simply make a wig out of my own hair. Easy! Yikes. I had some minor reservations about this, the main one being whether it would be a bit Silence of the Lambs-y and maybe I should just go the whole hog and get a matching suit of skin as well. That said, I did like the comedy potential of responding to the usual 'is your hair natural?' question from randoms by whipping off the ringlets with a flourish and handing them over for a closer look...

So our first stop was a wigmaker who seemed confident she could simply chop off the ringlets, one at a time (whaaaaat?!?) and stick 'em in a wig for the princely sum of $3600. All seemed a bit too easy and expensive to me and I didn't like the way she was eyeing up the Bouff like a lion might eye up an antelope. We beat a hasty exit.

Next up was a wig emporium designed possibly for the older lady about town. They had a great video on their website -I'm a sucker for quality online content - featuring a 20yr old model, which of course is what I think I am in my head. Certainly, they were a bit flummoxed when I walked in, sat down, pointed to the ringlets and said, "Got anything like this?". Next minute, I'm wearing a wig with a demi-wave and a fringe that turned me instantly into someone called Pam who's probably working in a bank and going through the menopause. Apologies to any Pams out there - your hair is truly magnificent but probably not for me. My friend Dave confirmed this today at lunch when he was nearly sick from laughing so hard at the pic of me in it. I bought 2 beanies and legged it.

Finally we arrived at the third appointment by which time Cath and I had lost both the will to live as well as our senses of humour. This one was with the self-proclaimed 'inventor of the spiral perm' and a qualified curl technician. I figured we'd either hit it off immediately or wrestle to the death for the illustrious title of Ringlet Guru.

As it turned out, despite being largely bonkers and banging on about my auras and chakras, she nailed it on the wig brief. At one point I thought she was veering towards a wig that would have made me look like a human cavoodle, but luckily she landed on something far more acceptable that we were all happy with. Wig mission accomplished.

I have entrusted her to cut the Bouff with care tomorrow - my nan always said people would pay a lot of money for my hair. I'm hoping that's true because my medical bills are out of control...

So, despite the ridiculous wig tales, tomorrow is a big day and also the start of the next 23 weeks of weirdness so big deep breaths all round this end. My beautiful friend Vix is currently in the air from London to hold my hand and pour the wine (abstinence is dead to me tomorrow) and Cath, ever the calming influence, will be there to hand Vix tissues when she gets all emotional and jetlagged.

As for me, the curls are my Dad's legacy and our Connerty family trademark so whilst everyone keeps telling me they don't define me, I'll still be sad to see them go after so many years defending my turf against the perils of hair straightening. That said, it's only hair, it's simply taking one for the team and besides, I'm quite looking forward to skulking around Sydney scaring people in my new role as a master of disguise...

Thank you to everyone who's offered me advice, wisdom, an ear or just a cup of tea this week - even though I know I've been pretty average company, I'm very aware of how lucky I am to have you all.

Here's to the Return of the Ringlets!

VC x

P.S Happy 40th to my curly-haired sis this weekend. Sending you some superior ringlets in the post, love. xxx

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