Cancer Support France (CSF), a charity which provides support for sufferers and their families in English in France, is asking people to get on their bikes this summer as part of an annual Activity for Life fundraiser.
‘A Lot of Cycling’ takes place in the Lot department from September 8-11 and centres on the town of Puy l’Evêque (Lot, Occitanie). There will also be a hike for non-cyclists.
David Wilson, from CSF, said: “All the rides will be loops that begin and end in the same place. People can do as much or as little as they like, can cycle at their own speed, and can use electric bikes. Although some of the routes will be hilly, others are completely flat.”
Participation is free in the expectation cyclists will raise sponsorship money. Travel to Puy l’Evêque and accommodation is at the cyclists’ expense but the charity plans to help organise places to stay and hopes to offer free lunches.
“It is not a big, serious sporting event,” said Mr Wilson. “It is a very social, convivial weekend. Some people come year after year, just for the fun of it. Before Covid, we even had people from the US.”
Since the pandemic, numbers have been down and this year CSF is expecting around 20 participants. In the past, there have been up to 40.
Full details are available on the CSF website, or on the Cancer Support France Activity for Life Facebook page.
The money raised is the main annual income for the charity, which offers free support to anglophones in France who are affected by cancer.
As well as emotional support over the phone or in person, volunteers can translate documents, interpret during medical appointments, and help organise paperwork such as applying for a carte Vitale.
The charity does not provide any medical information but can point people towards reliable sources.
“French medical treatment is excellent, and technically very advanced, but sometimes they do not have lots of time to listen,” said Mr Wilson.
“We do not only help people who have cancer, we help their friends and families too – anyone who is touched by it.
“In some cases, we build long-lasting relationships that continue even after treatment has concluded, because people can find the aftermath stressful. They worry about their cancer coming back.”
Cancer Support France is made up of 17 local branches covering most of the country. Areas without a branch can still offer support remotely.
Money raised from Activity for Life covers the cost of maintaining the website and freephone helpline, paying volunteers’ expenses and for Active Listening training, and publicity and marketing.