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Interview with Cancer Support France Volunteer Robynne Pendariès

Members of Cancer Support France at event, Activity for Life

A cancer diagnosis can be an unimaginably difficult time, but if it happens while living abroad from one’s home country and family, life can become even more complicated. Language barriers, lack of understanding of treatment options and facilities, feelings of isolation and more are all common experiences for people living abroad who are diagnosed with cancer.

So was the case for Cancer Support France founder Linda Shepherd, who was diagnosed with cancer while living in France. Knowing she was not the only English-speaker to be diagnosed with cancer while living abroad, she founded Cancer Support France (CSF) in 2002, which aims to provide free, confidential support to English-speakers in France affected by cancer.

CSF has volunteers throughout 16 local associations in France. Here we interview Message member and CSF volunteer Robynne Pendariès about the charity, what it is like to be a volunteer and the many ways it supports cancer patients and loved ones of cancer patients alike.

Can you describe how you found the charity, why you joined, what is your role?

My close friend Deb Lillian started the Paris chapter of Cancer Support France. In the beginning, I did it to show solidarity and support my friend. I quickly realized how important the work we were doing was for anglophones touched by cancer here in France. I also realized that several friends and clients of mine (in my work as a professional organizer) were facing cancer, and I didn't know how to best support them. I have since learned through my volunteering with CSF how to best be present for them, what to say and what NOT to say, etc. My role is "National Rep" which means I represent the Paris chapter within this France-wide charity organization.

What is an impactful memory you have from volunteering with the charity?

One of my favorite memories is when our previous president and I travelled to Montpellier for a national meeting. It was so heartwarming to be in the same room with other volunteers who are all so selfless and giving of their time for such a worthy cause.

Does the Cancer Support France have any events to know about?

Our volunteers create events as fundraisers, which span all sorts of events and skills. These fundraisers are usually organized within their local association. For instance I am part of the Paris & Ile de France Association, and I led a Zoom fundraiser by walking people through my "Checklist to Complete LONG Before You Need It" and raised over 800 euros for CSF. Another member of CSF made a beautiful quilt to sell to benefit the charity. In the fall, we will be selling raffle tickets also to raise funds. In addition, we plan on participating in the "Course des Lumières" as a fundraiser (run/walk through Paris at nighttime), in November, to raise funds.

How can members of Message help, if they are interested?

Message members can help by donating and/or by becoming members of CSF Paris, and also by volunteering (feel free to contact me with any questions by email at

Many CSF volunteers hold the roles of "Active Listeners" to support the people who reach out to us. There are additional ways to support CSF (doing publicity, training, design work, planning fundraisers, helping with local meetups, etc). We like to match our volunteers’ roles with their skills and interests.

  • Please note anyone who is an adult and speaks English can be a volunteer, you do not have to be touched by cancer yourself to volunteer. Learn more about volunteering for CSF.

You can also help us spread the word about Cancer Support France

If you know of someone or their entourage touched by cancer, English-speaking in France, any nationality, send them the CSF website and contact information. After calling or emailing, you will get a response as soon as possible, most likely within 24 hours. Phone calls are taken on an answerphone and are free from a land-line

Communication with our clients is also provided through Zoom, Skype, Whatsapp, text, in order to reach people in the means they prefer.

Is there additional information you want Message members to know?

Cancer Support France supports both cancer patients, and anyone in their entourage: caregivers, friends, family etc. so please reach out.

Also, your loved one with cancer does not need to be in France. For example, we have several people we support who live in France and have parents with cancer in the U.S. Our services, besides emotional support, includes language support at consultations, home visits or hospital visits, sharing resources in English about cancer treatment in France, information about accessing health and social services, and social meetings.

Image via Wix

Thank you Robynne for the work you do and telling us about this special association!


Interview has been lightly edited for clarity. Message cannot be held responsible for any information contained in or omitted from this article. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Message.

1 комментарий

Laura  Guillaumin
Laura Guillaumin
24 июл. 2023 г.

Thank you for sharing such an important cause.

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