Life is not the way it’s supposed to be, it’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.
– Virginia Satir
Editor’s Note: Over 2,000 people die each year in Mallorca of cancer and cancer-related illnesses. We feel this is a worthy group servicing people in need. If you are looking for a place to share your time, volunteering one or two mornings a month at one of the Palma or Manacor hospitals would be an excellent way to support our fellow islanders.
The Beginning #
Back in 2011, Krista Hyer was reading an article in the Anglo Info, someone had posted the question “Is there an English-speaking support group for cancer patients in Mallorca?”
Krista wasn’t sure. She decided if there wasn’t one, she would start one. And that’s how Cancer Support Mallorca was born. With the help of some other likeminded English-speaking residents, regular coffee mornings were started and other activities like the Art Class (temporarily paused because of Covid 19).
With time, however, they saw that there was a need to do more. While for some it was enough to get out of the house and have a chat, unwind. Others had needs that the small group was unable to offer.
So, over the next few years, the support group became a registered charity. Thanks to some hard work fundraising from Helen Pitt and others, it was able to employ a part-time coordinator and start to offer services that couldn’t always be covered by volunteers.
Services in the Early Days #
- Translators Initially, the goal was to offer translators for patients on their hospital and doctors’ visit. In time, they realized that the need for translators went a lot further. Some patients didn’t have all their paperwork in orderBy so they needed help to process that.
- Processing Paperwork Others needed help applying for benefits and financial aid from the social security, the social services or other charities such as the Asociación Española Contra El Cáncer – Baleares (AECC). For more on AECC, check out their website here >> AECC
- Coordination with Local Town Halls Much time has been spent making contacts with the local town halls, as well as in the Balearic Government. This led to CSG being one of the charities allowed by the government to continue offering services during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Collaborations and Partnerships #
In 2018, CSG signed an official collaboration with the AECC, they work together to make sure non-Spanish speakers receive all the help they need.
CSG had an agreement with the Calvia Town Hall for the use of the town centre that was renewed in 2020.
Nutrition is an important part of the recovery process, so CSG’s members are offered free consultation with in-house nutritionist, Suzanne Garaty. Suzanne not only offers an initial visit, she follows up with various visits and patients who are interested are given a copy of a great cookbook full of recipes specially designed to help cancer patients boost their immune system before, during and after treatment.
Volunteers and Services #
Apart from the Spanish speaking volunteers, CSG has a lovely group of volunteers who are willing to help in practical ways: taking patients to their hospital visits, running errands, visiting patients in their home or at hospital (during the pandemic these visits have mostly been over the phone) helping with pet care, etc.
Many local businesses have also rallied together and offer a lovely selection of services to CSG members:
- such as free spa treatments
- free hairdressing
- free yoga and mindfulness sessions
- free aesthetic tattoos
Under normal conditions, at least once a year, some amazing people get together and offer a Retreat, a day full of healthy pampering open to any CSG member.
Others have donated caps, wigs, prosthetics, and then there’s the team of knitters who make the amazing Knitted Knockers that so many breast cancer patients couldn’t be without.
Over the years, CSG has also developed a series of awareness talks that they deliver in English and Spanish, in Schools, Clubs, etc.
All in all, CSG has grown from a small group to a fair-sized charity that offers all kinds of help. Each patient is different and often CSG is faced with new challenges that the team haven’t come across before. But with the help of the volunteers, the medical staff and the authorities, they are normally able to find a solution.
As a local charity, CSG doesn’t receive any governmental funding. They depend on the generosity of local businesses and individuals. Generally, at least once a year, different members of the public organize fundraisers. CSG are eternally grateful for all this support.
If you are a local business and would like to learn more about the charity and how to support CSG’s outreach efforts or if you are a member of the public and would like to learn more about volunteering, please contact [email protected].
Many locals organize special events to promote CSG. For the second year, Sean Judkins and his team have arranged a "Tramunthathlon." On April 9th, a 155km multi-sport triathlon (kayaking, cycling, running) with the spectacular Tramuntana mountain range as the backdrop. For more information, check out the photo below. All proceeds go to Cancer Support Mallorca.
Please Get in Touch #
If you have cancer or are affected by cancer in some way through a relationship with a family member or friend, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. There is no commitment and you don’t have to pay anything. Even if you feel you have support of family and friends, there are so many other ways that CSG can help you. Even if it’s just having a massage, a haircut or providing you with a cap, wig, or knitted knocker.
Please join us as the CSG Community grows to serve the needs of all who are affected by cancer.
This article was written by the Coordinator for Cancer Support Mallorca. All photos are supplied by contributor.
By Rebecca Upton
17 April, 2023