When a novel cancer support centre modelled on the UK’s Maggie’s Centres was announced in Basel, to be situated in an elegant patrician house on the Petersplatz in the heart of town, someone commented to me: “Do they really need such a great big beautiful place [just] for cancer patients?” I was stunned by the question. But after a bit, it dawned on me that to many people (maybe especially in Switzerland, where the concept is brand-new and unknown), the idea of converting a beautiful, historic monument at considerable expense into an informal walk-in centre offering free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their families and friends sounds – well, what does it sound? Unnecessary? Over the top? Superfluous? Weird, even?
Luckily for anyone in Basel affected by cancer, Krebsliga Beider Basel has gone ahead (thanks to a magnificent, anonymous donation) and done it anyway. Their new centre had its official opening on 17 November and it’s breathtaking.
If you’re aware of Maggie’s Centres in the UK, you will know where this Basel venture is coming from. Maggie’s Centres are all situated in beautiful buildings – the house on the Petersplatz, built in 1860 by Emanuel Burckhardt, faithfully restored and beautifully modernised, ticks that particular box in spades. The architects have been respectful of the building’s original fabric, leaving all the ceiling mouldings, original windows (and fastenings) and doors in place. They’ve even restored to full working order the beautiful decorated ceramic stoves (Kacheloefen).
The result (just as for Maggie’s Centres, and borrowing some of their text) is a “warm, friendly, inspiring place, full of light, whose objective is to contribute to the continued wellbeing of an individual as they progress through cancer treatment.” Nothing superfluous, or OTT, or weird, just kind, and caring, and useful.
Office admin and all the services formerly offered in the Krebsliga offices in Mittlere Strasse (personal and family advice and support, links to home help and rehab organisations, advice on work and housing issues etc.) have transferred to the new premises on the Petersplatz. In addition, mammography screening and some psycho-social support programmes are administered from here. There are handicraft and art courses and support group meetings, as well as a reading room/library and a welcoming front room with coffee and tea on tap.
We plan to contribute our growing library of books and resources in English to their reference room, where they will set aside a section for information in English. We also hope to schedule some of our own meetings there. It’s a wonderful and most welcome initiative for Basel. For more information, all contact details are below:
Haus der Krebsliga beider Basel
Tel. +41 (0)61 319 99 88
Open weekdays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.