Fighting for More Flowers

July 1, 2019

By Christine Waller, Head of Global Communications  

Each year more than 300,000 children are diagnosed with cancer around the world. It’s a heartbreaking statistic, but thanks to specialized centers of care like the Prinses Maxima Centrum in the Netherlands, cure rates - at least in certain parts of the world - are on the rise.

In 2016, Mylan donated €1 million to support the Prinses Maxima facility. As we continue to explore ways to strengthen our partnership, enhance our service to the Dutch community and understand more about the Center’s global partnerships, I had the opportunity recently to visit Prinses Maxima with Catelijne Wessels, Mylan's head of Communications and Public Relations in the Netherlands, and experience first-hand the impact that the support of Mylan and others means for patients there.

I was struck by many of the similarities between the culture at Prinses Maxima and our own at Mylan. For one, Prinses Maxima is very mission-driven. Vincent, our guide for the day and independent advisor to the hospital’s board, shared with us that the Prinses Maxima’s number one priority is to cure the kids. For them, it’s not about the accolades and recognition that come with conducting ground-breaking research or striving to be the world’s top pediatric oncology center. Sure, these things may come because of progress made toward their mission, but the Center’s driving purpose is to cure the kids.

Also like Mylan, Prinses Maxima’s mission is brought to life by their commitment to patients. I could see it the second I stepped in the front door. Small, concentric stairs wrapped around the corner of the reception desk to allow a child of any age to reach counter height and meet hospital staff face-to-face upon arrival. Courtyards converted to astroturf race tracks, a hallway transformed into a theater in the round, and music studios provide spaces for movement, creativity and artistic expression to help reduce stress and provide a distraction from the gravity of difficult treatments.

And the fullness of care offered at Prinses Maxima is producing results. Their cure rate averages as high as 80%. In the Netherlands, a popular symbol for a child’s battle with cancer is a collection of beads threaded to form a beautiful strand with each bead representing a treatment milestone. Those who overcome cancer finish their strand with a flower bead. Those who sadly pass on receive a butterfly bead to finish their journey. It was meaningful for me to hear the staff at Prinses Maxima commit to fighting for more flowers. In a way, our work at Mylan serves a similar purpose. Our medicines, including a broad portfolio of cancer medications, help people to live longer, fuller lives.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to have visited Prinses Maxima, and for the ongoing volunteer work our Mylan colleagues in the Netherlands do with the Center. Delivering better health for a better world begins with making a difference one patient at a time, and that’s exactly what the Prinses Maxima Center does. The experience was meaningfully reinvigorating for me as it reminded me of the real purpose of our work – providing access to medicine and care, whether through our portfolio of products or donations to community partners. Although they face many battles ahead, I left the Prinses Maxima hospital feeling a sense of hope for the children there. I also felt an extra dose of “Mylan proud” for any small part our support has played.