CLASSICAL CHARITY CONCERT AT OPÉRA DE NICE

Un concert pour une bonne cause demain à Nice. A concert for a good cause tomorrow in Nice

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A charity concert to raise money for Cancer Research is being held at Opera de Nice this coming Friday, a great occasion to support a good cause while enjoying a wonderful night out!

Organized by the local association l’Art pour la Vie, this prestigious event will be conducted by Frédéric Deloche and will feature famous arias and duets from MacBeth, Attila, Nabucco, Manon Lescaut and La Trouvère, performed by Svelte Vassileva, soprano, Irakli Kakhidze, tenor, and Giuseppe Altomare, baritone. The Orchestre Philharmonique and  the choirs of the opera will also be on hand for the occasion.

L’Art pour la Vie has been raising funds to help move medical research forward in a variety of different fields, from cystic fibrosis to lung cancer, through the staging of concerts featuring world-renowned lyrical singers. It probably helps that its president, Melcha Coder, is herself no stranger to classical music, and is also at the helm of a yearly operetta festival designed to discover local young talent. Trained as an opera singer, Coder launched l’Art pour la Vie in 1998, alongside her late-husband, a former radiologist.

The concerts are organised each May and have so far managed to raise more than €20,000 for local hospitals, including the acquisition of medical devices for the pediatric services of L’Archet 2 hospital.

This time around, all the proceeds will go to the Centre Antoine Lacassagne in Nice, one of 20 cancer centres in France, in order to help acquire a radiotherapy apparatus capable of realizing a preoperative radiation in just three minutes.

The concert takes place at 8 pm on Friday the 19th of May. Tickets cost between €10 and €35 and may be purchased directly at the Opera or ordered by telephone.

CONTACT DETAILS
Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur
4-6, rue Saint-François de Paule
06300 Nice

Tel: + 33 4 92 17 40 79

How I Turned My New Normal Into A New Life

Le plus important en fin de compte, ce ne sont pas les cartes qu’on vous a données, c’est ce que vous en faites…C’est la leçon que j’ai apprise de mon expérience avec le cancer et c’est le sujet de mon nouvel article pour I Had Cancer! Ihadcancer.com
 
What really matters in the end, is not really the cards you are dealt but rather how you play the hand…This is the lesson I have learned from my experience with cancer and that’s the topic of my new article for I Had Cancer! Ihadcancer.com
 
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When I got diagnosed with cancer in the midst of my 30s, I did not let the news bring me down. Instead, I immediately turned into a brave little soldier and accepted all the treatments that were thrown my way without flinching. I was convinced that I would win this fight and that life would just be brilliant afterwards.

But unfortunately this is not what happened… Indeed, when the euphoria that followed the end of the ordeal died down, it finally hit me. My body was still not in as good a shape as it has been and no matter how hard I tried or wanted it to happen, I just could not fit back into my old life. And, if at first I was just happy to celebrate my friends’ weddings, baby showers and professional successes, I began feeling like my life was passing me by and that I was becoming a mere spectator who was not allowed to have their share of the cake.

It was as if all the repressed fears and pains were slowing coming out. I started suffering from insomnia and getting stressed over menial things. I became angry more quickly and began losing interest in some of the things I used to love. I basically felt that I no longer had any control on what would happen to me and was terrified that my cancer would come back. Mostly, and it took me a while to admit it, I was feeling vulnerable because of what had happened to me.

I felt ashamed because I was one of the lucky ones. So many of my fellow cancer fighters had lost their battle while I had been given a second chance, so who was I to complain? And with nobody around to listen to my worries, for my family and friends had already turned the page and moved on, I had to find the resources within myself to give a new meaning to my life. And this is how I adopted my 3-way plan to make the most of what I had been left with.

It started with taking some baby steps. I first had to accept that I was no longer the same person I used to be, and that it was okay if I was not able to bounce back in a day. I had been through a lot and I needed to acknowledge the changes cancer had brought to my life before I could accept them. I was no less of a person because I needed time to grieve. I therefore allowed myself to cry, and I did cry a lot at that time, or vent my frustration. But at the same time, I also made sure to pat myself on the back when I was making progress, or to be forgiving when I did not.

Little by little, it became easier to start planning a future based on my new reality and, as a consequence, to lower my expectations. That was the second step. I had always been one of those girls who dreamed big and always wanted more. I now knew that I had fewer options but did not want to let those unfortunate chances hold me back any more. Life is full of opportunities once we no longer let ourselves be burdens by the standards imposed by society. It is way easier to take a new direction without the pressure to necessarily make the most of our existence.

It is way easier to take a new direction without the pressure to necessarily make the most of our existence.

I thus left the stressful corporate world and a job that had become meaningless for a position in a small governmental entity. This may be less glamourous on paper, but it gives me the impression that I am finally making a difference in this world.

With a new purpose in life, the third step was to simply count my blessings. I now make a list every evening of all the good things that has happened to me over the last 24 hours. If I first started with some very little things, I now have the impression that my life is made of many beautiful moments – whether it is simply a splendid sunny day or a nice lunch with a friend.

After all, what really matters in the end, is not really the cards you are dealt but rather how you play the hand.

What have you done to take back your new normal?

Photo courtesy of Jason Briscoe.

This Is Why I Chose to Receive Cancer Care in France

On m’a demandé d’écrire sur mon expérience avec le système de santé français lors de mon combat contre le cancer…Voici mon récit pour IHadCancer. I have been asked to write about my experience with the French Healthcare system during my battle with cancer…Here is my story for IHadCancer!

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Getting cancer is hard enough in itself and patients should never have to worry about money during those difficult times. So when I found out that I had cancer, I left behind my beloved American life to go back to my native France.

“If I ever got cancer, I would immediately go back to France.”

This is what I would always say to myself whenever I was upset or felt a little homesick. It was meant as a joke. After all, I was in my early thirties, was healthy and living the American dream to the fullest. But even though I could not imagine my life anywhere else other than in San Francisco (where I had already spent nine years), I knew that a life-threatening illness could put a serious dent in one’s budget. Little did I know then that this dreadful hypothetical would present itself to me.

I was in France when I received my cancer diagnosis and suddenly there was no other place where I wanted to be. I needed to be near my family and surrounded by people who spoke my native language. I was terrified and felt like a little girl, so I needed reassurance and the absolute certainty that I would understand every single word that would be thrown my way. But more importantly I wanted to use any and all resources I could to receive the best care through the most affordable avenue possible.

Because I am a French citizen, I was still covered by the French healthcare system. Being a welfare state that spends 56% of GDP on public spending, my higher tax rate translated into 70 percent of all my medical bills being reimbursable by France and my private insurance picked up the remaining 30 percent. The French state has more control and a commitment to transparency that affords them greater bargaining power to keep prices low.

Even though I didn’t have the “carte vitale” — the country’s method of payment for State medical expenses that provides automatic reimbursement — I was still qualified for the coverage. My only catch was that I had to pay the costs upfront, but even then, France’s medical payers system allowed me to get my reimbursement within five to ten business days. Also in France, the sicker you are the more coverage you get. So if you have a long-term illness that requires a long treatment such as cancer, all the costs for surgeries and therapies are picked up by the government. As long as I followed my doctor’s orders I did not have to spend a dime, whether it was for a medical appointment or a cab ride to the hospital.

Only the expenses that were deemed “sources of comfort,” like the wigs or an individual room, were not totally covered, but then again most of them were paid by my private insurance. And after a full year of treatment I do not believe that I have paid more than $400 from my own pocket.

I was also considered an “absolute priority” patient and thus did not have to wait for any examinations. I had a biopsy the day after my gynecologist found a suspicious lump in my breast and the surgery to remove the tumor took place barely two weeks after I was diagnosed with cancer.

A real first-rate system, yes, but the French system is first and foremost the most humane! It is regaled by the World Health Organization as the “close to best overall health care” in the world. For me, it is still almost too good to be true. When my doctor gave me the all clear I told her that having been unproductive for so long, it was high time for me to start paying my due to society. But she didn’t laugh with me. She told me in a matter-of-fact voice that “Our health care system may be expensive and the taxes raised to maintain it may be high, but seeing people as young as you getting a second chance makes it totally worth it.”

Fighting cancer is never a walk in the park, so not having to think about money during this difficult period was an enormous gift. I feel very blessed to have been able to focus on one thing only: my well-being.

Photo courtesy of Gianluca Cosetta.