Cristal Spa (CS) : Hello Sylviane, thank you for welcoming us to your workshop “Les Crabettes Atelier Créatif”. Could you tell us a little more about yourself?
Sylviane Meunier (SM) : I am Sylviane Meunier, founder and president of the association "Les Crabettes Atelier Créatif". Over ten years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer at a very high grade. Overnight my life was completely turned upside down.
CS : Tell us a bit about “Les Crabettes Atelier Créatif”?
SM : This is an association that I opened in October 2019. Through it, I seek to support women with cancer or in remission. I wanted to open a space dedicated to sick women, so that they can share a moment of conviviality and creation far from the disease. I wanted them to be able to feel like me: a breath of fresh air while doing a creative activity. I had the opportunity to buy a house in Veyrier-du-Lac. On the ground floor, I immediately imagined after a lot of work to be able to create a 60m2 space to carry out my project. There we are, today! I have created this little haven of peace where you can come and participate in a workshop by booking directly on the association's website.
CS : How did you come up with the idea of starting this association?
SM : The treatment was very heavy and tiring. And of course ... We're bored. I realized that the only time I could stop thinking about the disease was when I was doing something with my hands. "Occupy the hands to free the head!" "The manual activities have helped me tremendously. And ten years ago, there was nothing in Annecy to allow women with breast cancer to escape artistically. I swore to myself that when I get well, I will make a difference.
CS : Have you had any significant encounters through this association?
SM : Women do not always come on a recurring basis, it all depends on their treatment, so it is sometimes difficult to forge relatively strong bonds. But during the workshop, it is quite a unique moment. And what is ultimately incredible ... is that not all of the women who come to the workshops talk about the disease. This is a real parenthesis from reality. The best feedback I've been given is "For three hours, I forgot everything". There I told myself that I had succeeded. Manual activities allow you to stay focused on what you are doing and stop thinking about the illness.
CS : And in the same way, do you think that the fate of these women can change thanks to the support of “Les Crabettes Atelier Créatif"?
SM : I will speak for myself, but yes, I sincerely wish I could have enjoyed these types of activities during my treatment. I think that would have been a real support.
CS : How do you see “Les Crabettes Atelier Créatif” in the longer term?
SM : I would already be absolutely delighted if I could reach the greatest number of women in chemotherapy or in remission of the Annecy pelvis and the Aravis. I realize that women are often very lonely to face this fight, and that is the thing that matters most to me today.
CS : Do you think the annual Pink October campaign really does?
SM : I think so, it is good for the spirits. One in 8 women is affected by breast cancer today. It is never too much to remember that. However, I remain convinced that today we need to extend communication to other cancers. Because, yes, it's not just breast cancer that affects women. We have to see further, it is very important to talk about it.
CS : What has been the impact of lockdown and Covid-19 on your association?
SM : It all ended on the 13th March, unfortunately. It is indeed a difficult situation. We have only done one workshop since the end of containment, the next is scheduled for the 22th September and then every week on Tuesday afternoon. I hope that we will be able to continue programming them on a regular basis in the coming months. Obviously, health measures are taken into account and the number of participants reduced.
I am very touched that Groupe PVG has chosen me to promote the Pink October campaign this year. I hope this will shed light on the association. I still certainly lack visibility. That’s why I have to be able to get the women to come because once they have attended a workshop, they want to come back. The workshops are paid (15 euros), this corresponds to what is financially committed for the materials used. I am aware that this can be a hindrance but unfortunately I cannot do otherwise at the moment, because everything is my responsibility. I am currently putting together files with the departments concerned to be able to benefit from grants that will allow me to offer them free of charge.
CS : A word for the end ?
SM : All that matters is hang on, believe in it, and fight cancer. No matter how hard it is, you have to be able to hold on to something. After cancer is also a difficult stage, just because the treatments are over, it doesn't mean that everything is back to normal. We must rebuild ourselves, in order to start afresh. This is why the association is intended for sick women as well as for those in remission, because they need support just as much.