In the 1990s an American named William Faulkner was living in Geneva when he was diagnosed with cancer. Having difficulty expressing himself in French, Mr. Faulkner approached his counsellor with the idea of setting up a support group for the English-speaking community.
Consequently, in 1999 the English Speaking Cancer Support Group (ECSG) was formed and a group of six members began meeting in a local bookstore, The Bookworm. Lacking financial resources, the ECSG later received assistance from several charitable entities–a church, a community hall, and the YWCA–to extend its various activities.
In 2000 the ECSG became a legal entity under the presidency of Liz Rollinson-Phillips. During this time, foundations for the association were established. The group, working actively on cancer awareness campaigns and collaborating with the Geneva and Vaud Cancer Leagues, began gaining support from local oncologists. Speakers were invited to give public seminars on cancer-related issues and local radio stations, Radio 74 and World Radio Geneva, started spreading the news: help was available in English for cancer patients and carers, and services were free.
In 2004, with the departure of Liz, Patsy Allen became president. Patsy, herself a nurse and breast cancer survivor, made it her mission to further improve services. For easier recognition, the name of the group became the English Speaking Cancer Association (ESCA) and new statutes were drawn up. A small committee began meeting regularly and Wednesday speaker/discussion evenings continued monthly. In 2018, the name officially changed to ESCA CancerSupport.
Since its foundation, our services have expanded enormously to include professional counselling; art therapy; mindfulness, yoga and gym classes; breast cancer and bereavement support groups; and walking tours. A Drop-In Centre with a library welcomes visitors and provides a friendly, informal space where support is available.
With the generosity and fundraising efforts of the community and our hugely successful annual Paddle for CancerSupport Dragonboat Festival, we continue to expand our cancer support network and offer help that is year round, free of charge, and accessible to everyone.
To provide a friendly environment that is supportive, non-judgmental and confidential, and to become well integrated within the region's medical community.
To have a positive impact on the lives of those affected by cancer by providing emotional support, practical help and information in English within Geneva, Vaud and neighbouring France.
Our counsellors have concrete experience in crisis counselling.
Approximately 40 trained and active volunteers work in nearly every area of ESCA.
Board of directors