French Cancer League continues to grow

The main French charity for cancer is the Ligue Contre le Cancer, which was set up in 1918.

It now has 103 branches, with one in every department, giving both practical and emotional support.

It campaigns to prevent the illness, by promoting healthy lifestyles, and fights to ban carcinogenic products while raising money for research.

Cancer is the biggest mortality cause in France, with 150,000 deaths a year and 370,000 new cases annually.

The charity says the good news is that 60% of cases are now cured.

For those with cancer, the charity offers a wide range of support: help with administrative papers; psychological support, individually or in groups; sessions to help prepare for a return to work; and even sessions with companies to help them welcome back staff post-cancer.

It also has a wide range of morale and health-boosting services, including sessions with nutritionists and osteopaths, sport and creative workshops, and feel-good sessions with a trained beautician. All help is free.

Helen de Balbine is responsible for care for cancer patients at the charity and said there would always be a welcome from the league for those in need.

“We are flexible and treat every case individually,” she said. “We can give someone all the help they need but if they already have assistance from another source, they can come to us as well for complementary services, such as the beauty or sports sessions.

“Many of our centres are based in hospitals, so patients can combine a medical visit with a visit to us.

“Each department has slightly different programmes. There is a good map, which directs you to facilities in your area (tinyurl.com/se6le3w).”

More than 13,000 volunteers work in the league and new helpers are always welcome. Carolle Khouider is responsible for volunteers across France and said they can give as much or as little time as suits them, with many different ways of helping.

“You can come once a week on a regular basis, help for a few hours once a year in a fundraising event, or become involved on an almost permanent part-time basis,” she said.

“Missions include administrative tasks, sometimes specific professional roles, educational tasks such as holding prevention sessions in schools, and support of cancer patients.

“We also have volunteers liaising with medical and administrative staff in hospitals to give feedback from patients to help improve services. For all roles that are on a regular basis, there are training sessions, whether the task is in administration, or helping a patient.”

She said the best way to find out how to get involved is to contact your nearest branch.

See ligue-cancer.net.

It shows that expats involved in a service for English-speaking people are also working with, and linking with, the French community.

The two charities have been sharing an office, which doubles up as a “drop-in” facility, at Gourdon, Lot.

The CSF drop-in is on Monday afternoon and the league on Wednesday. CSF volunteers also help with Lot Ligue events, including the annual cancer drive, sponsored by supermarket Leclerc, which doubles the amount given in donations.

In 2019, this event raised €22,000.

In the summer, CSF helped the Lot Ligue celebrate its 60th anniversary at Labastide-Murat.

In Normandy, CSF volunteers use the league offices for monthly drop-in sessions in Saint-Lô.

In Provence and Gard, the two associations actively promote each other.

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