Leopold Hoesch
Jobst Knigge & Peter Wolf
1 x 45'
Mildred Scheel
The First Lady and the fight against cancer

Mildred Scheel has a vision: she wants to beat cancer. As wife of the German President and President of the German Cancer Aid, she pulls out all the stops to confront the deadly disease. "Help. Research. Inform." is her credo. Day and night she lives for her foundation, collects donations, educates and advises. Her tireless efforts are revolutionising treatment methods and the view of cancer throughout Germany. A remarkable woman, to whose work countless people owe their lives.

As the daughter of a Cologne radiologist, Mildred Wirtz knows at a young age that she wants to become a doctor. An unusual plan for a woman in post-war Germany: when her first daughter Cornelia is born out of wedlock in 1963, she defies all social expectations. She does not give up her profession and masters the double burden of being a doctor and a single mother at the same time.

Her marriage to the up-and-coming FDP politician Walter Scheel in 1969 changes her life abruptly. Instead of realising her dream of owning her own practice, she now primarily takes on representative tasks, albeit reluctantly. It was not until her husband was elected Federal President in 1974 that Mildred Scheel saw her hour had come. As the new First Lady, she founded the German Cancer Aid in the same year. The company becomes her heart's project.

Mildred Scheel stops at nothing to achieve her vision. She persistently collects donations, fights and argues and, last but not least, incurs the wrath of the German medical profession. But her success proves her right. Since the foundation of Krebshilfe, almost two billion euros have been donated to date - in 2014 alone, more than 90 million were collected. And her central vision has also come true: Today, more than half of all cancer patients can be cured.

She will no longer experience the results of her work herself. The committed doctor loses her very personal battle against cancer. On 13 May 1985, Mildred Scheel succumbs to the disease she has faced all her life.

WDR Television, Friday, 5 June 2015, 8.15 to 9.00 p.m.

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