Here in France, Relais pour la vie is organized by La Ligue contre le cancer, France's biggest cancer-fighting organization. Our head office is in Paris but we have 103 different committees all over France and in the West Indies. Our first Relay took place in 2006 and was organized by the committee in the Bas-Rhin region, and although we have had our fair share of teething problems, each year more and more people are becoming involved and the Relay movement is gaining momentum. Over the last five years 51 Relays have taken place in France, with over 50,000 participants in 14,000 teams. The money raised by French Relays helps with all kinds of aspects of the fight against cancer. In Martinique in 2012, the money the Relayers raised was used to build a medical center for cancer patients in Fort de France. Elsewhere, funds are used to finance research and to improve quality of life for cancer patients (from getting wigs made for people going through chemotherapy to helping patients get back into a program of physical activity, or just helping people get to their hospital appointments).
There is specific research and help funded for young people who suffer from cancer and we also seek to offer support to caregivers or the families of those who are ill. Another hugely important thing that Relay is doing in France is making people look at cancer in a different way. For a long time it has been a taboo subject, something so terrifying that people prefer to simply not think or talk about it. It is obvious that this simply cannot continue, as unfortunately the sheer number of people touched by cancer means that we all know someone who it affects. Cancer cannot be ignored, but increasingly in France, neither can Relay for Life. Relays are showing people in France that you can fight back against cancer, you can do something positive, and if you are affected, you are not alone. I lost someone I loved to cancer, and through all the helplessness you feel, the question often emerges: What can I do to stop this? Thanks to Relay, cancer is not being swept under the carpet, there is something on offer for everyone who asks themselves that question and more and more people are starting to see it. Relay generates hope, the magic is spreading through France. 2014 was good and I am looking forward to 2015 as the year when we spread our wings even further as part of the Global Relay Movement. I wish Relayers all over the world a Happy and Healthy New Year!