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 2 January 2020

Where did 5 years go?!

Dear Fellowship,

Long time no speak (to those of you that are still here)! Don’t panic, I’m not about to smash you between the eyes again with a cancery tale two days into a brand new decade but I did want to take a moment to quietly tip my hat to this particular day (it’s still the 2nd Jan in Canada) and to this small(ish) but perfectly formed group on the 5th anniversary of my Stage 3 BC diagnosis. Yikes. Where did that half a decade go?
Now to be clear, I’m no more a fan of the term ‘5 year remission’ than I am of the expression ‘I haven’t fallen off a chairlift today’. Invariably uttering the latter at any point in the day results in me immediately lying in the snow at the foot of a chairlift in a tangled heap swearing at some hapless and tearful 7 year old skier. So, with that image in mind, be safe in the knowledge, my friends, that I won’t be throwing any ‘woohoo I’m in remission, people!’ parties just in case the universe is listening and decides to give me a hard shove off its metaphorical cancery chairlift.
However, I would like to quietly raise my glass and say that I’m happy to have tucked a cheeky half decade under my belt and officially clawed back an eighth of those 40 years Dr Dave promised to give me in exchange for the precious ringlets back in January 2015.
Fair to say I’ve packed a bit into those 5 years - left my beloved Sydney, moved back to the UK, rented a chocolate box cottage by the Thames, completed a Masters in Playwriting (with Distinction, yup), become a published playwright, gained a godson and a dogson and eased my way gently back into UK media life via 2 maternity covers (also known as stalking good mates who are pregnant and nicking their fabulous jobs for a year)...
And much as I’d like to say that 2020 will bring with it a much slower pace, a time for reflection, contemplation and relaxation, it probably won’t. Because in a month’s time, in a move that has surprised no one more than me, I’ll be leaving the idyllic river walks of Henley-on-Thames and heading for the bright lights of New York.
Because of course what someone who likes their sleep as much as I do needs is a low-key move to the city that never sleeps...sigh. I have no idea what this coming year will bring but that’s kind of the magic (and frankly, madness) of it all but I’m sure there will be many never ending stories to tell. At the very least, there’s going to be a LOT of Instagram opportunities about a pampered cockapoo from Henley carving out a new dog’s life for himself on the mean streets of NYC. Like a dog-based ‘Once Upon A Time in America’ type scenario with Jervis as De Niro obvs.
But all that 2020 shizzle aside, I just wanted to drop a post to say thanks from me to this illustrious Fellowship for the part you’ve played in my ticking this 1825th day off my cancery to-do list. When I look back on the five years that have flown by since that fateful Jan 2nd 2015 day, I wouldn’t change a single moment. Apart from that particular moment I got Limpy stuck in a bin chute, threw used cat litter all over myself and then had to clean it up with one hand and a dustpan and brush. I think we can all agree that was a bad day. But I digress...
So off we all go into the next decade - who knows what’s coming next but I hope all your paths are paved with gold. As for me, I’ll just be over here, heading casually off into the sunset towards the next 1825 days...
Happy New Year, one and all!
P.S I was interviewed a couple of weeks ago for my friend Richard’s podcast.
You lot get a mention. Surprisingly there’s a lot of rambling on, going off on tangents and some light swearing. So very much out of character then. If you hang on in there till the end though and you subscribe, rate and review the podcast, you get a cash prize. Probably. Please see Richard Stokes for details... :)

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