Client testimonials

Below, some of our clients have generously offered to share their experiences of the support they received from our volunteers. Click here for more comments on the support that CSF-Languedoc have been able to provide to clients. 

Nick and Laurent

Although, by early 2014, I was in remission following treatment for lower bowel cancer that had started in March 2012, my partner Laurent and I were still deeply affected by the stress and trauma of my illness.  I felt as though I was in a bubble that isolated me from the rest of the world, and was very much aware that the end of my treatment did not signify the end of my journey as a cancer patient, nor of Laurent’s as my main carer. It was at this time that we saw a CSF-Languedoc poster at my gastroenterology clinic and decided to get in touch. 

We were immediately encouraged by the warmth, moral support and, most importantly, the understanding we received from everyone we came into contact with at CSF, be they Active Listeners, other volunteers, or those who had also experienced living with cancer. After just one conversation with my Active Listener I lost all sense of isolation. It was like stepping from a fog into a clear day, where everything started to seem normal again.

In November 2015, Laurent learned a lot more about the breadth of the support that CSF give when he attended an Active Listener training course. He says that it is this vast range of support and services that make CSF so unique.

To be able to talk so frankly and openly about the emotions and concerns we had felt during the treatment and since it ended, was a very positive experience, allowing us to quantify and look at what we had been through much more objectively. When you know the people you are talking to don’t just understand, but really care about how you are feeling, it makes a huge difference to your morale. It was like being among family, but without the awkwardness and difficulties that can often arise when talking about cancer with those that are closest to you.

Throughout my diagnosis and treatment, we had also found the medical support provided by the French healthcare system to be second to none.  In particular, accessibility to medical personnel was outstanding: we were regularly reminded that we could contact a dedicated nurse at the radiotherapy clinic if either of us had any questions or concerns.

But it’s not just the medical treatment that gets you through; it’s the emotional and practical support that runs in parallel with that – and far beyond. This is where CSF is so special. The care and understanding we have received from our Active Listeners and the other friends we have made through regular attendance at Drop-In days (which we try never to miss and always enjoy) has been incredible. Neither of us can imagine how things would have been if we hadn’t discovered CSF.


Angie

Colin and Angie moved to Pezenas in the Languedoc in 2003 following Colin’s retirement. Less than a year later, on a trip back to the UK, Colin suffered a severe stroke and was hospitalized for five months. He had lost his power of speech and was paralysed down one side of his body. But the couple wanted to return to their French home and, having done so, were hugely impressed by the support they received from the French healthcare system. Unlimited speech therapy and physio were just some of the treatments Colin received over the next several years.

Angie became a 24-hour-a-day carer, but with the support of a large circle of friends, life went on. Then, in 2010, Colin was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Angie knew that things were about to become very hard to deal with alone and, at this point, she contacted CSF-Languedoc.

Colin was scanned prior to chemotherapy treatment for prostate cancer, but during the scan secondary tumours were discovered in his liver, as well as a primary tumour in his colon. After three years of difficult chemotherapy, that set Colin back to where he had been immediately after his stroke, as well as monoclonal antibody therapy, Colin and Angie met with the specialist. Having ascertained that the couple were both very realistic in their outlook, he advised them that further intervention was unlikely to be effective and that their best course of action may be to “go home and make the best of what you have left.” Which is just what they did. 

Throughout all this time, CSF-Languedoc was at Colin and Angie’s side, providing practical and emotional support.  Angie says they felt very protected. “All the people we dealt with were wonderful.  They really cared.” She adds, “Whatever we were going through at the time, we knew we could talk to CSF who would listen to and support us.”  Angie stressed that it was this all-encompassing care that had made so much difference to them both.

Summarising the extent of her experience with CSF, Angie says: “It’s not just the translating and going to the doctor with you, it’s the love and care you get in between all that. It’s something I will never forget.”

 In 2013, at the age of 76, Colin died of cancer of the liver. In Angie’s words, “I don’t know how I would have got through that last three years of Colin’s illness without CSF’s help. They were here as much for me as they were for Colin.” On the day he died, throughout the period immediately after his death, and for the three years since then, Angie has continued to receive support from the Association.

Angie has been a regular at the Association’s monthly Drop-In days, where she helps provide craft sessions, and is attending the next Volunteer Induction Training Day, which explains the many roles available to CSF volunteers. She is keen to give back to CSF in any way that she can.


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