Jump to content

Cancer Treatment in France


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 285
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Remember Grecian, no matter what they had told you, you would have got on with it and seen what they had to offer to help. That is what we do, and I reckon most of go in to get the results, hoping for the best and expecting the worst.

And I would like to ask, would it have been easier for you if you had lived in the UK? It's just you seem to have worried about so much, what happens, the organisation etc. And maybe you would have had family/friend support there?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, good news Grecian, well at least for no spread, obviously not the bit in-between. You will feel better now, and once a treatment plan is organised you'll feel much more confident that you can beat this C thing.

I've found with my treatment here in France, some professionals are nice and caring, even if they speak no English, yet others are absolute pigs. I suppose you would find that wherever you have treatment.

Go and enjoy the vin rouge, medicinal of course.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Brilliant news Grecian, you can enjoy a meal and wine at last, oh and the cancer's not so bad either [;-)]  no lymph node involvement should mean no chemo so that's excellent if it's true because it wouldn't be fun over winter.  Mine was summer and I couldn't have an ice cream which is the one thing I really missed.

The robotic surgery could be good to as it would be les invasive. Google da Vinci robot for some information, I only know that because I read a brochure in Kent & Canterbury hospital.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The latest technology is a sort of robot arm guided with infinitely more precision than other wise possible by the surgeon who an now SIT DOWN in front of a screen.

This shows that you are in a centre with the latest equipment [:)]

This is the guy who put it up me


It sounds as if your tumour is in a similar place, quite high in the rectum rather than in the colon as mine was.

I could explain why this is difficult but you may prefer not to hear. Too much information?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Grecian

Christmas, New Year and your birthday all rolled into one.

Don't doubt the guy who looked at your scan. What he says is what everyone will take as gospel and work upon.

Nice link from Norman on the da Vinci machine. As far as I can work out the only person looking at you during the "procedure" will be the anesthsetist.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Would it have been easier if I had lived in the UK? To some degree definately I was born in Exeter and the hospital was a 5 minute walk from our house, I actually said to my wife at one point, I really wish we still lived in Exeter at this moment in time, although we both passionately love our life here in France. Again at my lowest ebb we said we will have to reconsider our position of living in France when this is all sorted, but now having progressed to the position where we now find ourselves, and having a clear idea as to what will happen next, I think we will be staying in France.

I would defy anybody who is put in the position I found myself in some three weeks ago to not freak out, imagine the situation you know you have a life threatening condition, and yet have no idea as to how the system works in order for things to be put right. So yes guilty as charged for seeming weak and pathetic, would you have been any different?


Thank you for your kind words, I think that I may have exceeded the the dose stated on the label of the medicine bottle last night, but we have had no 'normal' life for nearly a month, so last night we let go a little, well a lot actually!


Thanks for the links provided regarding the robot, looks like the surgeon is playing on his X-Box, at least the anesthsetist was showing some interest. I do no know if this will be the procedure used, as the doctor who viewed my MRI said he is not a surgeon, but thought a robot could be used due to the position of the tumour. Norman my tumour is a lot lower than yours was I think, literally just inside my bum, only worry is there may not be enough left to restitch, will have to wait and see.


Thanks for that, very reassuring.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is always the problem with rectal tumours. The organ is only a few inches long and there are two sphicters on at the exit and one a bit higher up at the junction with the gut which controls the entrance of waste matter just as the one lower down stops it coming out.  Mine was up near the top one which meant that it was almost out of reach by passing in the natural way, which is probably the reason that that attempt failed.

The second time I had a bigger operation in which they open you up by keyhole surgery from the front(the belly), and it is for that one that the robot is very useful as it can enter easily through the small hole and is controlled electronically.

For the time that the wound heals I was given a stoma so that nothing passes the rectum for several months.

A length of bowel is brought on to the tummy and the bowels empty into a bag.  I had this for about 6 months; then another operation reversed it and I am now back to 'normal' though it did take a while for the intestines to get back to work.

You may not need this, but I mention it now as a possibility so if they do mention it it doesn't come as a shock....

From your name it sounds as if you are from St James's park, but if you were near the old Heavitee hospital you could be from Newtown or if near the New RD & E  I suppose it could have been Heavitree ..

"Debn born Debn bred strong in the arm thick in the head "


Drink up ee zyder..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the information Norman, I appreciate that it is in a tricky position and will have to be prepared for whatever the outcome is regarding a stoma, obviously prefer not to have one, but if it comes to it, then so be it at least then I will still be here to care for my wife, which is my number one priority at the moment. As I mentioned the doctor who checked my MRI said he is not a surgeon, he only thought that it would be easier for the restitching as it is so close to the base of the rectum. He also mentioned that not all hospitals have a robot, when I asked him if Angers has a robot  he replied yes, but it is a long way to come for your treatment, to which I replied not a problem, I want the best chance possible. Not sure how it would work if any chemo is required, would you know if say I had the operation at Angers, could any chemo be administered at Bressuire?

On a lighter note it is pretty scary that you know so much about me Norman, yes you have sussed my user name of Grecian as being the nickname of my home town football club Exeter City, 'The Grecians' who if you are interested tonight could quite possibly be humiliated by Warrington Town in the first round of the FA cup, which is being shown live on BBC1. Regarding which hospital and area really spooky, I was raised in Newtown so the old Heavitree hospital was my closest hospital, but when I got married I moved to Heavitree, and the RD & E is the hospital I was referring to when I posted yesterday. Are you an Exeter lad?

Can't say I have taken too much to French cider, find it has a strange taste, probably because they actually put apples in it[:)], do miss the Westcountry cider a little, and can remember the first time my then to be wife drank not an insignificant amount of 'rough', not a moment in her life that she would have been proud of, is all I am going to say.[Www]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

French cider! A whole new subject, I have had delicious cider and some other stuff, especially fait maison that is, well.... there are hardly words to describe it. It probably would be better placed in with the other products in my cleaning cupboard.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it does come to a Stoma I can give yet more yuccky info, but something to take into account given your wife's situation is that it is quite a big operation and I was out of action for quite a while. There are specific reasons for that in my case as I have several other serious health problems, but I did need a month in Hospital and two months in a convalescent home.  That isn't usual  (I think 7-10 days is more common) but you won't be looking after her for a while and in fact may need some looking after yourself.

I would suggest again that once you have your appointment you should contact the 'aide sociale' at the hospital, or get CSF to do it. That person can help to plan the overall needs of both of you and will know where help is available.

A centre like Angers usually prefers to look after the whole programme of treatment, but if you DO need chemo (probably Folfox 5) it is often given in  a day clinic, and as it is a standard an well-known programme they might let you have it at Bressuire just checking on your progress.

I am not an Exeter boy but was married in the Registry office, my son was born in the old Heavitree Hospital and my father died there, so I can say I have 'been around' the town.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="NormanH"]

From your name it sounds as if you are from St James's park, but if you were near the old Heavitee hospital you could be from Newtown or if near the New RD & E  I suppose it could have been Heavitree ..

"Debn born Debn bred strong in the arm thick in the head "


Exeter boys and girls!  I was born in Heavitree!  [:D] [:D] [:D]

I also sang in the choir at St Matthews Church in Newtown for 10 years too [:$]

and went to school at Bishop Blackall beside St James park [blink]

sorry... I'm off topic on a very serious post... but couldn't resist!  [:$]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Feel free to be off topic Rose, I have done enough of the serious stuff for the time being. Whilst not singing in the choir I went to Sunday school at St Matthews Church, didn't manage to get into Bishop Blackall, would have been nice though an all girl's school, hmm....[:P]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="Grecian"]... didn't manage to get into Bishop Blackall, would have been nice though an all girl's school, hmm....[:P]


Church of England Grammer School for Girls no less!  It changed to a comprehensive during my second year so we were the last year to take the 11+... the school never changed much though whilst I was there... it was a real shame when they merged and closed it.

Back on topic a little when I was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, we had a similiar conversation about whether we should be stay in France.  We worried that we wouldn't understand the system or that we would need the support system of friends and family in the UK. 

In reality I was between surgery and treatment when we had this conversation and it was totally impracticle to consider a move but with hindsight it was the right thing for us to stay in France.  The treatment I received was excellent and we discovered that we were very much part of our community... and we did have a support system here.  Greyman (husband) was inundated with offers of help... he never had to cook a meal when I was in hospital and folks even offered to do his laundry.  The school was also excellent... my son was 12 when I was diagnosed. 

Fortunately my cancer has been sleeping for over 3 years but it would be fair to say that the whole experience kind of cemented our position here in France... we felt like we belonged.  Hope that doesn't sound too airy fairy but it's the best way to describe it.

That's not to say that there haven't been hurdles... I speak french ok but dealing with my treatment and subsequent follow-ups and drugs isn't always easy.  The normal homesickness comes and goes as with most folks... but for now France is home.

So when were you at Sunday school?  I was part of St Matthews from about 1969 - 1979... Father Reid was the vicar [:$]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My paternal grandfather's side of the family was from Exmouth.

As a very young teenager, I can remember staying down there and the 'men' used to go to the local every evening for more than a few pints of the local 'Scrumpy' (or was iit 'Scrumpie'?) rough cider of course.

Anyway, both of my great uncles had what were described as "pickled noses". Sort of mottled and pit-marked. A sort of lunar surface with shades of pink.

Neither lived very long.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fortunately my cancer has been sleeping for over 3 years but it would be

fair to say that the whole experience kind of cemented our position

here in France... we felt like we belonged.  Hope that doesn't sound too

airy fairy but it's the best way to describe it.

I don't think it is "airy fairy" at all.

I was probably more committed than most already but I felt the same way.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lots more bits to answer.

Norman thank you for your update, I remember you mentioning aide sociale, and will bear them in mind when the time comes. Not looking too far into the future at the moment, now just trying to do my 'one step at a time' bit. I guess things will be a lot clearer after having seen the specialist next Friday, so for the moment just running along in neutral. I like your photo of Topsham, had many pub crawls around Topsham, I was more a real ale man than a scrumpy man, and back in the late seventies and early eighties Topsham had more pubs than Exeter that served real ale.

Rose sorry to hear of your own situation, but very glad to hear things are clear at the moment, it has shocked me as to how many people have posted on this thread that have been through the experience. I am slightly apprehensive about any treatment that I will need, being in a French hospital, although reassured by what you have said about the treatment you received, my French is not brilliant although I have really tried to learn the language, so will have to try and do my best. The experience will help with my French language if nothing else. Sunday school, I think it would have been around 1966 I first attended, although to be honest I really cannot remember, so who know we may well of met back then.

Gardian told you we were going to be humiliated it came as no surprise to me, the current manager we have, Tisdale has never got the club into the 3rd round of the FA cup in the nine years he has been manager. In fact we usually go out in the first round of every cup competition, I did watch it but to be honest was bored stiff, too much tippy-tappy stuff with no end result. The whole set-up of the club to my mind stinks at the moment, the club is Trust owned which you would think a good thing, but all the directors take a wage out of the club, rather than put money in like a normal club. The manager is on a two year rolling contract, so basically unsackable, the only way things will change is when the club enters administration again, as they surely will, not too far into the distant future. Nice to hear of the family links with Exmouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To help with the things you will hear and need to say (NOT an exhaustive list of French medecine)

Administrative procedures

Acceuil (Reception)

Borne a sort of slot machine at the reception where you enter your 'carte Vitale'

Caution ( Deposit)

Chambre Particulière (single room)

Faire les etiquettes (give your details, and get some sticky labels which will be used later )

Bon de Transport (form to authorise transport

costs, which you get from the Doctor or nurse. If an other examination

such as a MRI scan is prescribed you need to ask he original Doctor, not

he MRI technician)

VSL ( sit up ambulance)

Examinations you might have

echographie (ultrasound)

radio ( Xray)

IRM 'ee er em ' (a MRI scan)

la tension (blood pressure)

prise de sang (blood test)

globules rouges/blancs (white or red blood cells)


Douleur aigue  - Sharp pain

 avoir des démangeaisons (itching) ça gratte 'sa grat' (it itches)

des boutons (spots)

Une escarre or plaie de lit (bedsore)

Things you might be asked or hear

le poing 'pwan or pwang' serrez le poing  (fist, as in make a fist when having a blood test)

la plaie (wound)

le bloc (the operating theatre)

service (ward, as in service de chirugie, a surgical ward)

surveillante (the ward supervisor- Sister? )

peser, as in' je vous pèse' (weigh)

Je pique (said by the nurse as she puts the needle in)

la lame (a drain tube to let liquids out of the abdominal cavity)

de garde (on duty, usually a Doctor covering at weekends etc)

à jeun nil by mouth

"aller à la selle" =  to go to the toilet (number 2)

les selles (stools)

Procedures done to you

"faire une piqûre", or "piquer" = to give an injection =.

perfusion ( a drip, as in the arm)

les points 'pwan' (stitches)

Pansement (dressing)

une mèche ( a piece of gauze or dressing to hold open an infected wound and let it drain)

peser, as in' je vous pèse' (weigh)

sonde (a catheter)  although catheter (pronounced catetere also exists as in.....

pac  ' porte à catheter' a semi permanent catherter in the upper chest or neck for chemotherapy

Equipment used

Haricot ' areeco' (kidney bowl, for being sick)

Bassine (plastic bowl)

Bassine du lit (bedpan)

pistolet (plastic urinal for men in bed)

Pansement (dressing)

sparadrap 'sparadra' (sticking plaster

une protection/absorbex (absorbent tissue

potence 'the arm over the bed which you can hold onto)

bocal (a sort of jar to collect fluids or waste, often to be measured)

couche (a nappy )

Penilex ( a way of helping urinary incontinence in men with something like a condom with a tube to drain away the urine )

balance (scales as for weighing)

poche ( a bag, for example part of a stoma)

fauteuil (armchair/wheelchair)

compress (swab)

brancard /brancardier (stretcher, and porter)

Parts of the body

see http://www.maisondequartier.com/pedagogie/corps_voca/p_voca_corps.php

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now

  • Create New...