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 19 March 2015


Dear Fellowship,

So forget the insouciance with which I cast aside the beloved ringlets a fortnight ago and embraced the new 'trendy geography teacher-esque' cheeky crop, this week we are officially on Hair Watch. 
My oncologist said it would all be gone by day 16 post 1st treatment. It is now Day 9 of the Great Hair Stakeout of 2015 and to be honest, I reckon so far I've pulled out more myself than has actually fallen out of its own accord. 
This is currently my daily routine:
Wake up. Sit bolt upright fearfully. Check hair. Still there. Phew. 
Check pillow. What is THAT?!!!!! Bloody cat hair. Mental note to throw Bob and his abundance of cat hair off balcony later. 
Shower. Check hair. Still there. Phew. 
Pat hair dry like am petting tiny delicate mouse. Check hair. Still there. Phew. 
Go outside. Bit of a breeze. Yikes. Retreat back inside. Check hair. Still there. Phew. 
Bit tired from hair-checking. Have rest. Try to levitate head over pillow. Fail. Wake up. Sit bolt upright fearfully. Check hair. Still there. Phew. 
Get Jez to come round and check hair for bald patches and give second opinion. Still there. Phew. 
And so on. It's exhausting. 
Despite the above hysteria, I'm actually pretty ok with it going - hoping I'll look more Natalie Portman than Voldemort obviously - but the waiting game is beyond tedious. The old wiggage is waiting patiently for an outing and I bought a load of headscarves and hats in readiness the other day. That said, I tried one of the hats on and the response from my supportive man-slaves was 'yeeeeeees, ok, hmmm, wowsers, let's see the scarves then?'. Not the reaction I was quite hoping for...
The scarves themselves however are actually a nightmare from a Limpy perspective - if I thought tying a bikini with one arm was a challenge then I seriously hadn't thought through the logistics of wrapping and tying a scarf around my bonce with one limb. Let's just say, there are some advantages to living alone - witnessing me simultaneously grappling with Limpy and a metre-long headscarf is something no one else ever need see in their lifetime. No wonder Bob is moulting furiously and hiding under the sofa in tears.
So hair-stalking aside, it's been a fairly incident-free week post-chemo #1. Luckily, I seem to have escaped Round 1 relatively unscathed with no major side effects so far - yes, I'm sure they're coming - and now I have another 2 weeks to wait until round 2. 
I've struggled a bit this week with lethargy and extreme levels of 'can't be bothered' apathy - I was alerted to these by the enormous amount of cash I spent on 'loungewear' in Peter Alexander the other day. I need to keep a bit of a eye on this over the coming months, I think although the upside is that I am SMASHING through the box sets like there's no tomorrow! I suspect that the transition from moving at breakneck speed through life and seemingly never having enough downtime to slowing down to a tortoise pace overnight with more time on my hands than I know what to do with is going to present a fairly significant personal challenge.
That said, it's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just the new normal for 2015 and now treatment is finally underway and I'm not running about quite so much to appointments, harvesting eggs, getting ringlets lopped off etc, I can hopefully establish some decent routines to get me to each checkpoint along the way. So if I haven't replied to your messages or have been fairly monosyllabic this week, then don't be offended - I am either checking my hair for bald patches or immersed in another ep of Scandal. What would Olivia Pope do?! I'm guessing she probably wouldn't make herself a Cup-a-Soup and shuffle about in her new loungewear for hours….
Thanks as always for still checking in, both in person and via t'interweb - it's bonkers how, every single time I've been a bit waaaaaah this week, my phone has pinged to life with a message from one of you, largely nagging me to eat/ get dressed / get outside / stop watching Scandal. It's like you KNOW….
Special mention finally to my 7 year old niece Molly who has discovered the joys of Skype and likes to send me random messages that I don't usually see for days. This morning I found another one. Best poem ever attached. Gulp. Sob.

VC x

No comments:

Post a Comment