Riviera Reporter
Riviera Reporter

Expats fight against cancer with Cancer Support Group 06

You don’t need to go through it alone. As Sarah Legon explains, an English-speaking support group is here to help.

Sadly, it seems cancer touches everyone in one way or another.

I helped found the Cancer Support Group for English speakers while I was having chemo at the Clinque Tzanck in Mougins because the oncology nurse asked me to support English-speaking patients. Then Anne Sookhoo, a psychologist known to the Reporter, asked me to help her start a group along with Mim Kay of the Bereavement Network of the Var (which helps people in the Alpes-Maritimes also).

Cancer support group ladiesCSG06 seven supportive years. (L-R) Back: Angela Anderson (President of CSG06), Pauline Manassen, Meta Looij (Founding President), Dr H. Naman (oncologist). Front: Anne-Marie Swiegot, Mim Kay (also President of the BSN), Sus Stroyberg (head oncology nurse, Tzanck Mougins) Sarah Legon.
Photo: Rick Anderson

It began out of the Tzanck clinic because one of their oncologists, Dr Naman, came and spoke to me during my treatment and thought it was a good idea. He gave us a space on the premise and Sus Stroyberg, the head oncology nurse, joined us, which was fabulous. Two wonderful Dutch ladies (Meta Looij and Pauline Manassan had the same idea and came on board, and so we had the beginning of a support group.

Thus, in January 2009, Cancer Support Group 06 (CSG06) was founded by a group of concerned health carers and former patients who recognised the need for a cancer support group for English speakers. Our motto is: “You are not alone.”

The group has become an official association and more professional. Initially based at the Tzanck clinic in Mougins, most of the group services that we offer are now at The Grange, home of Sunny Bank, who allow us to use their lovely facilities at 815 chemin des Gourettes in Mouans-Sartoux and thus provide support in a non-hospital environment.

“No one should have to face this difficult disease alone,” says Meta Looij, outgoing President of Cancer Support Group 06, “and those who do not speak French fluently have not been able to find adequate support. We hope to change that with this group, after all there’s more to life than cancer.”

One of the founders of CSG06 adds, “Many family members and friends also need help. And sometimes you just need to be with others to talk about your worries, grumble or just joke about things. Learning you can live with cancer is a stage you often need help with.”

There are all sorts of activities for cancer patients and caregivers including Mindfulness, Art Therapy, Psychology, and Flower Arrangement. Cogs for Cancer, a yachtie group, and the IWCR have kindly raised a lot of money for the group and continue to do so. We thank them heartily.

In addition to group services, such as regular monthly meetings, art therapy, Ikebana flower arranging classes, Alexander Technique workshops and mindful meditation meetings, there is also one-to-one help. This might be support from our psychologist, sophrologist or counsellor, help with the French administration system, translation of documents or at medical appointments, practical help like shopping or even dog walking. Whatever a client needs, it’s our aim to help. Current services are all free of charge.

Future plans include working closely with the local Ligue Contre le Cancer, which has recently opened a new multipurpose space in Antibes – thanks to the fundraising efforts of another English-speaking group, Mimosa Matters (see Mimosa Cocktail fundraiser in aid of cancer) – and CSG06 hopes to offer English services there.

The monthly open meeting, on the first Wednesday of the month (15h30-17h) is open to anyone interested in our work, including clients, volunteers and potential volunteers. The meeting also includes many of the founding members, like psychologists Anne Sookhoo and Eli Cookson, Sophrologist Pauline Manassen and the head oncology nurse at Tzanck, Sus Stroyberg.

CSG06 is affiliated with the nationwide Cancer Support France (CSF), a group of associations which provide services to Anglophones. This involvement with a national body enables the sharing of information and expertise, together with vital help with training, which is an important part of ensuring that both clients and volunteers are supported.

CSG06 is a small but growing association that wants to raise public awareness. You can learn more about what Cancer Support Group for English Speakers offer – our new helpline answerphone 07 68 38 74 70 is checked daily – and also how you can help on our website: http://cancersupportgroup06.wix.com/csg06

Ladies with cancer support

Helpful cancer links

Pink Ribbon Monaco: www.pinkribbon.mc

SOS Cancer du Sein (French): www.soscancerdusein.org

Cancer vaccines Dudderstadt, Germany: www.immuntherapie.org

Cancer Options Service, UK: https://canceroptions.co.uk

Photodynamic light therapy, Winchester UK: www.doveclinic.com

The Haven charity, London, UK: www.thehaven.org.uk

IPCT Clinic near Munich, Germany: www.klinik-st-georg.de

Naturopathy & IPCT, US: www.manhattanadvancedmedicine.com

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