Mimi Foundation gives cancer patients courage to feel good about themselves


Myriam Ullens de Schooten was once a cancer patient. During her illness, she says she was fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends and, in addition to medical treatment, lucky enough to have a good wig and the care of a beautician, as well as the support of a psychologist. Now a cancer survivor, Mimi, as she calls herself, was determined to give other cancer sufferers similar opportunities to maintain their dignity during treatment, which she believes helps them fight the disease more effectively, and founded the Mimi Foundation in 2004.

The Foundation persuades hospitals to put two or three rooms at their disposal which they then decorate to give cancer patients, both male and female, the impression of visiting a wellness centre within an otherwise often austere oncology department. During their treatment patients are offered free counselling by a psychologist, specialist beauty treatments and hairdressing advice.

There are now four centers in Belgium and a fifth is scheduled to open. By the end of 2011, it is estimated some fifteen thousand people will have received care from the Mimi Foundation in Belgium which has also expanded activity to France and Switzerland.

Psycho-oncologists, psychologists specialized in the psychosocial aspects of cancer, provide patients and their families with support and follow-up while beauty specialists offer guidance on make-up and hair as well as beauty treatments that address specific issues resulting from treatment, or simply make patients feel better about themselves and their appearance. These caregivers are all professional and salaried employees, which means fund-raising is a major concern.

The Mimi Foundation organises several fund-raising events per year and receives donations from philanthropists, corporations and private individuals. “Ideally,” says Managing Director Marianne Wagner, “I would like everyone to donate €40 per year. I know I’m a dreamer but what would life be without dreams? It would help us tremendously and it’s the minimum required for any donation to be tax-deductible.”

The Foundation has launched a new fund raising campaign and held its annual Saint Nicholas Party on Sunday November 27 at the Conrad Hotel in Brussels.

Wagner used to work in finance but found her way into the Mimi Foundation some two years ago.

“I’m incredibly motivated” she says. “It’s a cause that’s close to my heart and although it can get difficult at times, the feedback we get from our patients gives us the will and courage to carry on and continue giving.”

Donations: ING 310-1658221-92

IBAN: BE12 3101 6582 2192 | BIC: BBRUBEBB