Cancer, a foreign medical system, and no insurance cover – how would you cope with that? At times like this Spanish charities such as the AECC ( one of two groups to benefit from the Walk For Life on 13th December) are there to offer compassion and kindness.

It’s four years since the Walk For Life began raising money and awareness in Tenerife for breast cancer – last year 2,000 walkers raised 20,000 euros. This year the streets of Playa de las Americas will again become a procession of pink as it winds its way some 3.5 kms from the Mediterranean Palace to the Sal Y Tien plaza. Proceeds will be split between the Spanish charities AECC and Amate.

When one expat British pensioner found a lump developing in her throat and started coughing blood earlier this year, that was terrifying enough. Following her throat cancer diagnosis, she also found that her private medical insurance wouldn’t cover all her treatment. “The diagnosis was made at Clinica Verde in Las Americas and confirmed at La Rambla in Santa Cruz, both part of the Hospiten group and therefore covered. “I was told I would not just need chemotherapy at either of these clinics, but also radiotherapy, only available in Gran Canaria or on the mainland. Neither was practical for me.”

Stress is the last thing needed in such a situation but thankfully all the relevant agencies came together to provide treatment quickly and with full support. “Candelaria and University hospitals in Santa Cruz could do all the treatments under the Spanish NHS so I contacted the British Consul office. They advised me that as I”M a British pensioner I could apply through an E121 form to convert to the Spanish NHS. It would take weeks to clear, but Candelaria let me sign a “promise to pay” so the treatment could begin. They were so helpful, kind and understanding, a great comfort to me.”

The course involved seven weeks of treatment, five days a week, with 7-hour gaps between early and late sessions in Candelaria. I live in Los Cristianos, so at first I tried to grab a few hours sleep in the car between daily treatments but it was a punishing load. Candelaria staff put me in touch with the AECC, who have an office in the hospital, they were magnificent, providing accomodation in a shared four-bedroom house in La Cuesta (10 mins away). They even bring round free coffee and snacks at Candelaria and arranged free hospital parking for my husband.”

The good news is our patient now has the all clear; “I just have to have check-ups every five months, and follow-up treatment for side effects like burns and scarring, at the La Salud clinic in Los Cristianos. All the medical and administration staff I dealt with at the clinics were fantastic, it was a awful time for me but they did everything they could to make it bearable.”

That’s just part of the work that the AECC and Amate are involved in. Breast cancer is the driving force behind the Walk Of Life but these charities help with all forms of the disease. Cancer respects no age, sex or state of general health, but it can be beaten. The Walk For Life is as much about raising awareness as money, and a celebration of all the progress that has been made in treatments.

Men, women, young and old are all invited to join the Walk Of Life on Sunday 13 December at 10.30am for an 11am set off. There will be music, entertainment and commentary in English and Spanish as both communities come together to support the cause. All you have to do is raise some money through sponsorship, or donation, and most of all, turn up in the pink and give your support. There is more information at the website, or telephone 600 821100.

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