Cancer Support France – Sud de France


CSF Pyrenees OrientalesNewsletter September 2012


Active Volunteers and the Helpline

I joined the CSF Sud Helpline Team in March this year. The Helpline is an answerphone which is monitored regularly during the day by the Helpline Co-ordinator “on duty”.

Since the beginning of 2012, we have been averaging three calls a month which need positive action. Usually two of these require the allocation of an Active Volunteer, whilst the other is handled by the Co-ordinator. In addition, we have a small flow of new clients who come to us directly for practical, language and emotional support. Although this seems a small number, we are still supporting many of the clients who have contacted us since we began in 2009.

Some of our AVs have volunteered to cover areas of France where there is no CSF group. This means that they can be used by CSF National (which has its own National Helpline Number) or any other CSF group which is in need.    We are now receiving at least one new client per month in this way.

Rob and Miranda ran a two day training session in July for new AVs which brings the total of people in the P-O available to have direct client contact up to 22. We are fortunate in having a number of native French speakers, a huge bonus for those needing language help or guidance around the health system.
The next Training Session for existing AVs will be on Friday, November 2nd 2012 – venue to be confirmed.

Do come along.

Drop In Groups

At the beginning of 2012 we started two “Drop In” Groups, one in Céret and one in Prades. These are informal groups which meet twice a month over a coffee in a local bar and provide an additional means of support to anyone who wishes to come along. They are light hearted, giving an opportunity to chat on any subject, usually NOT cancer, although an AV is always on hand.

During the year, we have had interesting speakers at the groups talking on topics ranging from reflexology to mushrooms.

We have a selection of books in English for purchase against a small donation and drinks are provided by CSF. The groups are not restricted to members, everyone is welcome whatever their nationality.
The Céret group meets at Pablo’s Bar, Place Picasso between 10am and 12 noon on the first and third Wednesday of the month. The Prades group meets at Café Alchimie, rue Hospice on the first and third Thursday of the month between 3pm and 5pm.

Speakers joining us for October are Marian Thornley at Céret on October 3rd to share her relaxation techniques based on yoga and Liz Jarry on 18th October at Prades who will be telling us about naturopathy.
If you would like any information on either of these groups, please contact Rita on for Céret and Gill on for Prades.

CSF Sud Bureau Meeting in September

Every three months or so, CSF Sud, which covers the Aude and Ariège, as well as the P-O, has a “Bureau Meeting” attended by our President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and a representative from each of the three departments. This is a chance for us to catch up on events across CSF Sud, share any problems, review the budget and discuss the future.

Financially we are in a strong position with over €13,000 in the bank. Our annual expenditure in 2011 was around €8,000 and we aim to have a year’s running costs in hand. We are aware that growing client numbers means more expenditure, particularly on the Drop In groups and transport costs for AVs who attend appointments and visit people at home or in hospital.

Publicity is the other area which takes much of our funds. Our healthy position means that we are now able to advertise and we have purchased some items such as the banners for our stands.    Although we are now accepted as a credible association by most of the hospitals and clinics across our area, a more professional approach does improve our image.


Events past

In March a magnificent Ball was held at Eus in aid of CSF funds. Over 100 people listened and danced to Nostalgie, who generously gave their time freely. The staggering amount of €893 was raised. Many thanks to all those who made the event possible.

Rather less exciting was the annual March get-together for members and supporters of CSF Sud in the P-O, held at USAP Tennis. Over twenty people came and listened to Penny giving an overview of CSF Nationally and locally. Most people stayed to enjoy the excellent lunch in convivial surroundings.

Following on at Easter was the fifth Vin Art event hosted by Jon and Rachel at Domaine Treloar in Trouillas. We were again asked to run the raffle and help with the wine and cheese tasting. After such a successful Ball, we decided to share the raffle and wine tasting proceeds (generously donated to us by Jon and Rachel) with Enfants & Santé Pyrénées- Languedoc Roussillon, a local charity which raises funds for research into childhood cancers. CSF is one of the founder members of Enfants & Santé which made this particularly appropriate.

Glorious weather meant that we had a very enjoyable two days, sharing nearly €400 between the associations. Again, many thanks to all those who attended and gave their time to “man” the CSF stand and adminster the raffle and tastings, above all, Rachel and Jon.

The fourth successful “At Home” at Caixas was held on a hot evening in late August.    This is a chance for everyone interested in CSF – members and non-members – to get to know each other and enjoy a relaxed buffet. Thanks must go to all those who made the trek to Caixas, and those who contributed to the delicious buffet.    Although this is not a fund raising event, we did raise over €200 on the sale of books and other CSF items.


CSF Awareness Week
September 2012 sees the 10th Anniversary of the founding of CSF in the Poitou Charente area. This first association became CSF National and there are now an additional 14 linked associations across France. Although each association is free to operate in its own way, they all share the same committment to support the anglophone population living in France and touched in some way by cancer, be that as a patient, carer or friend.

Here in the P-O we have three events to celebrate Awareness Week, spread across the Department.
First was a Coffee Morning on a lovely sunny day in Céret, hosted by Fanny and Chris at their home. Over 50 people attended and many books were sold. In addition there were bring and buy and home-made produce stalls. The huge sum of €250.99 was raised for CSF Sud funds. Thank you Fanny and Chris and all the others who helped with the organisation and on the “day”!!

Then on Tuesday 25th we were at the Café des Artistes in Laroque des Albères. Anyone who bought a drink could choose two free books. We had some of Colin Dunster’s paintings on display in anticipation of his Exhibition in December (see Events to Come) and sold our tea towels and cards. Again the weather was kind, the wind dropped and the sun shone and we chatted to people from other parts of the P-O. We raised another €103.05 on the book stall.
Very many thanks to Mel and Fearghal for letting us use their space and to everyone who came and supported us.

Finally, we shall be at “Lizzie’s Kitchen”, Ille sur Têt, on Thursday 27th September for lunch. Lizzie is putting on a Special CSF Menu for us at €12 including wine. With a raffle, various items for sale and Lizzie’s welcome, it promises to be another enjoyable event.
If anyone is interested in joining us it may be possible to squeeze you in! Contact Penny.

CSF Gifts and cards

To spread awareness of CSF we produce a limited number of items for publicity purposes.
Currently we have a stock of tea towels which were designed for us by local artist Margaret Dibdin. These cost €4 each or 3 for €10. They are of high quality cotton and wash and wear well.

Our 2012 Christmas cards will shortly be available. This year they have been designed by Russi Dordi, an artist in the Aude. These are priced at €1 each or 6 for €5. The rear of the cards, which are blank inside for your own message, states that the cards have been specially designed and that all sales support CSF Sud.
We also have a small stock of previous years designs.

Events to Come…………………

Sunday 25th November at St Jean Pla de Corts Marché de Noël with FAB P-O
Although the preparation for this is not yet underway, the Mairie has reserved the last Sunday in November for what has become the annual Christmas Market à l’anglaise organised by FAB P-O.    FAB P-O is a French Anglo Business Network in the Pyrénées-Orientales providing help and support to existing and new businesses in both French and English and is in the process of redeveloping its website under the name of FAB Networks.
Please keep the date free in anticipation of Father Christmas, British bangers, café, gifts, our book stall, raffle …..

Throughout December at the Musée du Liège, Maureillas-las-Illas Exhibition of paintings by Colin Dunster
Many years ago, Colin Dunster retired from London with his wife, Liz, to their second home in Montferrer.   Colin took the opportunity to exchange his GP’s bag for an artist’s paintbrush and he has painted and exhibited widely in the area, not least at Domaine Treloar at Trouillas. He and Liz are returning to London and Colin has gifted all his paintings to CSF.

With thanks to the Mairie of Maureillas, most of these will be on display at the Musée du Liège during the month of December. Details of the vernissage will be circulated when the date has been finalised.



How radiation causes damage by Dr Richard Holloway

Radiation therapy is used in more than half of cancer treatments with the aim of either complete cure or disease management. Whatever the treatment delivery the purpose is to inflict sufficient damage to kill malignant cells and ideally achieve complete tumour eradication.

While the biomolecular pathways involved that lead to cell death are complex, it is widely understood that the critical target in radiation therapies is DNA, although other structures are undoubtedly implicated. The function of a cell, including its ability to replicate itself, is controlled both by its environment and the genetic information contained in its DNA. Radiation used in cancer treatment has the potential to critically disrupt DNA sufficiently to cause cell death – but how?

Some radiation has sufficient energy to eject electrons from the orbital shells of atoms. This is called ionization. Visible light, heat, radio and microwaves do not have this capability and are called non-ionizing radiation. X- and gamma rays are examples of ionizing radiation and are commonly used in radiotherapy. It’s often said that we are made mostly of water and the ionization of water during X-ray radiotherapy produces free radicals such as hydroxyl, a highly damaging oxidizing agent that can break chemical bonds such as those in DNA strands. Incidentally, our body cells are constantly under attack from oxidizing agents and the protective properties of antioxidants derive from their ability to neutralize some of these. Some DNA damage is repairable but complex patterns of damage can be difficult or impossible to repair, resulting in cell death.

The aim in radiotherapy is always to inflict greater damage to tumour tissue than normal tissue and it is advantageous that, generally speaking, normal tissue has a greater capacity for repair than tumour tissue. Nevertheless, radiation therapy is always a balancing act between delivering sufficient dose to kill the tumour tissue while sparing normal tissue and avoiding inducing secondary cancers.

We are lucky to have Richard as one of our local members and are hopeful that he will have the time to continue this fascinating series of articles. Thank you, Richard.

The Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) Network

The Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre Network was established in 2006 to bring together scientists, doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff to develop new cancer treatments and tests to benefit patients in the future. This initiative is in addition to traditional research, bringing the “lab” into the treatment centre, and thus speeding up the research process. The patients themselves play a vital rôle. There are currently 18 centres across the UK, and although their areas of research inevitably overlap, each one has a different emphasis. At Cardiff, for example, it is acute myeloid leukemia, whereas at Cambridge the genetic predisposition to cancer is in the spotlight.

If you are interested in this UK initiative, have a look at the following website which explains in detail the aim of the Network and how patients can help in the research process.

In France it is also possible to take part in clinical trials which are advertised on the Institut National du Cancer (INCa) website. Patients may also be invited to participate by their consultant. Some clinics, such as Val D’Aurelle – Paul Lamarque which is a “Centre Régional de lutte contre le cancer” at Montpellier, are research establishments as well as hospitals. These seem to operate in a similar way to the ECMCs.
CSF, INCa and La Ligue contre le cancer

Due to the hard work of Linda Shepherd since the inception of CSF in 2002, there is now a close working relationship between CSF nationally and the French Government sponsored body, INCa. Members of CSF, primarily from CSF Sud, have translated into English a huge INCa booklet on Cancer and Welfare Services (“Démarches Sociales et Cancer”).    As the law surrounding welfare services is constantly changing, this collaboration will be ongoing.

Our relationship with La Ligue is also good and we have recently taken on a project to translate a number of their leaflets. This task is being split between CSF Sud and CSF Charente Plus, the latter having already translated a booklet on Hair Loss and Chemotherapy.

Translated documents are available on the CSF Forum.
Documents in the original French can be found on or Both of these websites have a wealth of information pertinent to living in France and coping with cancer.

Membership of CSF

Membership of CSF Sud de France costs only 10€ a year. This sum is used to help cover the costs of providing a service in the CSF Sud area and beyond.

If you would like to join, contact Penny for a membership form, or download one from the CSF Forum  in the Regional Notice Board section for Sud de France.

If you are French tax payer, you can ask our treasurer for a reçu fiscal to claim your membership fee or any donation against tax.

Help Needed

We are continually trying to expand awareness of CSF Sud across the P-O. Perhaps you could pass this Newsletter on to others who may be interested. If you belong to an anglophone group, one of our AVs would be happy to come and explain what we do and answer any questions.    Help in any form is, of course, very welcome. There is no need to become a member.


Anything for the Newsletter?

This Newsletter is a way to keep our members and supporters aware of what is happening with CSF in the P-O, but I would also like to make it interesting and informative.

We are particularly lucky that Richard has offered to write for us on a topic which is both fascinating and pertinent.

Do you have anything which would be of interest to our readers? If so, please drop Penny a line for inclusion in a future Newsletter.

And finally

DON’T FORGET, you can find out more about CSF by looking at the CSF website OR the CSF Forum

We are also on Facebook

This newsletter was prepared by: Penelope Parkinson (Vice President)
Telephone: 04 68 38 81 28    e-mail:
Supporting all those whose lives have been touched by cancer
Cancer Support France – Sud de France (11,09,66)
Assn. Loi 1901 No. W112000594

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