Our story

"When I was in your shoes, several months ago, I didn’t feel comfortable leaving my house most of the time. I got a leave of absence from my job to avoid people staring at me with pity and curiosity.” The hairdresser’s words have been haunting my thoughts since the day I heard them. It is those words that made me realize how important it is for me to share my story and perspective on life with cancer.

Because hair or no hair, at the end of the day I am the same person, my identity is intact. Cancer is part of my life, but it is not the thing that defines me. It doesn’t affect the way I act or feel about myself. It’s a disease that became part of my life without my permission, and while it influences my life, it doesn’t shape it. Life does not end with the diagnosis and shouldn’t become reduced down to hospital visits, doctors’ appointments, IV drugs and endless blood tests. Life goes on and it’s in our power to continue living it ridding ourselves of all taboos and prejudices.

It’s Thursday afternoon. I get out of the hair salon and for the first time I am not wearing my scarf. Not because I managed to “save” my hair, but because I am not afraid of losing it.

Hair and other Irreplaceable Things, Scars & Scarves
by Emma

This is an excerpt of the first story that Emma shared on her personal blog, Scars & Scarves, about her perspective on life and cancer, one year ago. Her goal was to confront stereotypes regarding cancer and to prove that “life does not end when cancer strikes; instead it becomes worth living”, as she writes.

In this context and after having spent countless hours visiting the hospital to receive therapy, Emma envisioned to create a non-profit organization that organizes programs in hospitals to engage oncology patients in meaningful, creative and educational activities. Her aim was to boost their sense of productivity and normality and to encourage them and their families to have a positive outlook towards their disease.

Our Emma passed away on October 20, 2017, at the age of 24, 5 and ½ years after her initial diagnosis.

Today, Emma’s vision is realized by her family, her friends and all those who are inspired by her voice and her stance towards life through the establishment of PAMEMMAZI, a Non-Profit Organization which aims to improve the care of oncology patients in Greece by increasing understanding of the importance of psychosocial care and organizing programs in hospitals to engage oncology patients in meaningful, creative and educational activities. PAMEMMAZI embodies Emma’s vision, whose young spirit remains an inspiration for PAMEMMAZI members, volunteers and friends.