History of Cancer Support France

Our history

Cancer Support France founder Linda ShepherdCancer Support France began life in 2000 around a kitchen table in the Poitou-Charente. Its founder, Linda Shepherd, was struggling to come to terms with her radiotherapy treatment. A fluent French speaker, Linda found she could not express her deepest fears in a foreign language. She discovered other English-speakers with similar problems and started a regular coffee meeting in her home. She became aware that it was not only the patient who was being affected by the illness and its treatment; partners, family members and friends were struggling too, and were invited to join. With the support of her oncologist, Linda advertised the group to offer support more widely.



‘Cancer Support in the Poitou Charente’ is registered as a French ‘Loi 1901’ not-for-profit association.

Linda recognises the need for her members to be trained in the art of active listening. Macmillan in UK help her to establish proper training for those members intending to have client contact (Active Listeners).


Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres is created, the first independent Association.


To reflect that support is being given by telephone all over France, the name of the original Association is changed to ‘Cancer Support France – Charente Plus’

2007 – 2010

New Associations are registered across France – three in the Dordogne area and one in Normandy, Gascony and Brittany, followed by Sud de France and Languedoc


Cancer Support France (National) is created. Charente Plus remains the local Association. The National ‘office’ comprises a President (Linda being the first), a Treasurer and Secretary. These three, together with 7 representatives elected from local Associations, make up the National Committee.

The training package for Active Listeners, which was still based on Macmillan’s original guidance, is developed to suit Cancer Support France’s specific needs.


A partnership agreement is signed with La Ligue contre le cancer. At the AGM in March 2014, Linda retires and reorganisation of Cancer Support France begins.


The statutes are changed to ensure each affiliated Association has one representative on the National Committee, thus each affiliate has one vote. The National President is elected from amongst these representatives.


A new logo for Cancer Support France is unveiled with a new website.

Cancer Support France attends the World Cancer Congress in Paris and makes a short presentation. This contact led to CSF becoming a member of the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) (which inputs to EU legislation on cancer) and the International Cancer Information Service Group (ICISG).

The first Trainers’ Conference is held at the Oncopole, Toulouse.


Sadly, Linda dies in March. Her legacy – a thriving CSF.


CSF (National) has 15 affiliated Associations, covering much of France.

2020 – 2022

During the Covid lockdown period, CSF expands its service to support all Anglophones isolated and lonely, in France.

2021 – 2022

Cancer Support France provides a signposting service for those affected by BREXIT.


The training programme for Active Listeners is revised to reflect the changing needs of clients.


A new logo is designed, defining Cancer Support France.

Since 2002 – Today, much of Linda’s legacy continues on. CSF is continually adapting the support it offers to provide for people’s needs today. The increase in use of modern technology mean that support can now be provided by, for example, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp and text messages, as well as by the original telephone and email. Many affiliates organise support groups to enable face-to-face contact where members can share in a safe space.