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 25 December 2015


Dear Fellowship, 
5 years ago, I travelled home from Sydney secretly to surprise my mum and family on Christmas Day. Apart from the bit where Mum shut the door in my face upon seeing me stood there in the snow shouting "Surpriiiiiiiiise!!!' at her in a Santa hat, it worked like a dream. 
So when I returned to Sydney in mid-November just before my niece Matilda was born, I was already considering whether potentially repeating the great Connerty Christmas surprise of 2010 in 2015 was the best idea I'd ever had or in fact absolute lunacy. Turns out it was probably a bit of both...
And so yesterday, after a month of very uncharacteristic VC secrecy and 24 hours after leaving Sydney, I arrived in Henley wearing a jazzy elf hat (I like to mix up my festive headwear choices) and successfully scared the living daylights out of my poor unsuspecting sisters and mum. 
My bro got the same treatment on his eventual arrival this afternoon, the reason for this delayed Yuletide greeting - I don't know how Cilla Black managed 'Surprise, Surprise!' for all those years - it's exhausting! 
Jetlagged auntie, milk-coma'd niece

Probably more scared than my sisters was my brother-in-law Martin who I'd dragged into my Focker-style circle of trust only a day earlier and who I'm pretty sure barely spoke to my sister following my phone call, so fearful was he of letting the Christmas cat out of the bag. Thanks for being the Ben Stiller to my Robert de Niro, Mart.
So today I'll be enjoying all the chaotic trimmings of a UK Connerty Christmas in leafy Henley and it feels like the right place to be, especially this year. 
A year ago, I was in Jervis Bay awaiting the results of my Christmas Eve biopsy, opening presents in the sun, watching sunrises on the beach and being altogether blissfully unaware of the cancery storm racing towards me. 
This year, my latest Christmas accessory is my 3 week old niece, I've drunk way more water than wine and jetlag is the only reason I'll be seeing sunrise this week. What a difference a year makes indeed! 

Niece carnage
3 cousins, 1 squashed auntie
So all that remains is to send a very merry Christmas to all of you and yours from me and mine. I hope you're having the most delightful of times with the people you love the most. Because really, that's what Christmas is all about, innit? 
I know. I'm a bit like a ginger Oprah nowadays. Call it my Christmas gift to you all...
VC x
Happy Christmas!

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