Heroic mothers; mothers who are symbols of love and contribution, and who overcome every difficulty and obstacle. These mothers, the mothers of the Children’s Oncology Unit, were honoured by Marianna Vardinoyannis in celebration of Mother’s Day.
With tears in her eyes and her heart filled with love, Mrs Vardinoyannis talked with four mothers of children with cancer via Skype, and wished them happy Mother’s Day; but above all else, she gave them strength and courage for their difficult struggle.
Although current conditions did not allow for her to be at their side and for them to all embrace each other, love always finds a way. All distance disappeared and the voice of Mrs Vardinoyannis soothed the soul of the four women.
“You are true heroes, guardian angels at your children’s side and I bow before you. I will always be at your side no matter what you need.” Mrs Vardinoyannis said to the four mothers, the words coming from deep within her soul.
Chara, mother of 2.5-year-old Panagiotis, Eri, mother of 8-year-old Christos, Fotini, mother of 14-year-old Giorgos, and Anastasia Vardoulaki, mother of 12-year-old Konstantinos and President of the ‘PISTI’ Association, could not hold back their tears during their conversation with Mrs Vardinoyannis.
“You are a mother to us all”. These were the words with which Eri and Fotini expressed their gratitude to Mrs Vardinoyannis.
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: Hello dear Fotini, how is Giorgos? I know you are facing lots of problems, dear Fotini, I am very sorry that I could not be there with you to hold your hand, I know you had a recurrence, I hope that it all passes. Tell me, how is Giorgos?
Fotini – Giorgos’ mother: You are always near us and we feel your help, whether you are here or not. You can be sure of that! All of us at the Hospital and the Guest House know it, and that is why we continue our struggle using our hope, our faith, anything we have! Our children can handle a lot! And we have no choice, we handle it with them. We all love you very much!
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: Dear Fotini, first of all, happy Mother’s Day. You are a mum who is a hero, who stands by her child, patiently and with concern. I bow before you, honestly, you are a hero! As a mother of 5 children, I too know what our children mean to us, we have nothing more valuable in the world than these children. They are our very life! They are the light in our eyes, the sun of our life.
Fotini – Giorgos’ mother: And you are a mother to us all!
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: Know this, truly, I am always at your side. No matter what circumstances arise, never forget that at every difficult moment you can think of me, call me, and tell me what I can do for you. I honestly want everything to go well for you and our beloved Giorgakis. Bless your child, may he be well and proud of his mother! Happy Mother’s Day! I love you very much. And send a hug to our Giorgos!
Mrs Vardinoyannis sent a big hug and a kiss to young Christos, during her conversation with his mother, Eri:
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: It gives me great joy to see you and speak to you again. Christos, you, and your entire family are always on my mind, you should know. Christos is a real, true fighter, he is ELPIDA (hope) itself, and the dear never stops struggling for his own life! I have honestly missed him so much and I send him all my love, tell him that, and a big hug. I want you to know that I will be at your side in any way I can, supporting you, dear Eri. For whatever you might need. Your strength and dignity has moved me. You are wonderful parents, happy Mother’s Day! You are the best mum in the world. You are true heroes and I bow before you for what you are doing, for the great work of being at your children’s side and giving them strength and courage!
Eri-Christos’ mother: Thank you very much, be well! You are a mother to us all! You do it all!
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: I wish for this day, Mother’s Day, to be a day of celebration and for everything to go well for my beloved Christos. Give him a big hug and a kiss from me!
Chara was moved to tears when she heard Mrs Vardinoyannis’ voice:
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: Good morning, dear Chara. Happy Mother’s day, my beloved Chara! I honestly bow before you, a mum that’s a hero to our beloved Panagiotis. Since speaking with you at Easter, you have never left my thoughts or my heart. You are an idol of a mother, especially on a day such as this. I am a mother too and I understand you. I know your pain and your concern, but our Panagiotis will get well! I pray every day, I have a small chapel at the house here and every day when I pray the first candle I light is for Panagiotis. I pray he gets well soon so we can hold him in our arms! Thank you for being here today, because it makes me think of how much better we can feel as people when we see you, the heroes, sacrifice yourselves for the children. Honestly, I am moved as I speak to you right now and I wish that you receive a thousand awards for the self-sacrifice you have shown for your Panagiotis.
Chara – Panagiotis’ mother: Thank you very much. You deserve the same! I was truly trying to contain my emotions today, to talk with you more comfortably, but you moved me from the very beginning with your words, from the moment I logged in and heard you speaking. For the love that you give so generously through the Hospital, for all the families, for all of us it is enormous support, and it gives us the strength to continue our struggle. Every day we worry, but we receive love, caring, and warmth to carry on! And this comes from you! Thank you very much!
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: Dear Chara, your words soothe my soul. I wake up at night and think that maybe I have not cared properly for Panagiotis, Christos, Stella, our children. I feel like all the children are my children, my grandchildren. You cannot imagine how I contemplate how difficult each passing hour must be for you, because all of us as mothers have spent countless hours at our children’s bedside, for greater or smaller problems. But for you the problem was truly great, but let’s not focus on it, it shall be overcome. I promise you that Panagiotis will become a great man; you will watch over him with pride and everything he has gone through will seem like a bad dream that passed. I love you very much, I bow before you, honestly, I bow before the greatness of your soul and your self sacrifice and your struggle. Because for a mother, no matter what she does for her child, it isn’t called a sacrifice, that is how I feel. Our children are the most valuable thing in our life. They are a treasure in our heart. I love you, and call me no matter what you need. Happy Mother’s day, my dear!
With a spring bouquet and words from the depths of her heart, Mrs Vardoulakis thanked Mrs Vardinoyannis:
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: I want to wish you a happy Mother’s Day, as you are a mum, too, and I know what you went through to get to the point of having your child only come in for check ups. It is very important. From the bottom of my heart I wish that you watch your Constantinos grow with pride. You have made so many sacrifices, spent so many sleepless nights, said so many prayers. But you should know your prayers were joined by our own, and our love for you. You are worth it. I know what you have gone through with your child and God will pay it all back to you. Happy Mother’s Day on this special day on which you are the symbol; a symbol of love, of contribution. Of a mother that has gone through a lot at her child’s side, to get to that point of joy where visits to the hospital are only for his check ups.
Anastasia Vardoulakis: As it is Mother’s Day, even in these unique conditions that stop us from enjoying personal contact, we feel the need to express our gratitude to you.
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: Congratulations for ‘PISTI’. An effort being made with the other parents, which you are leading, a truly wonderful parental organisation you have formed. With your self sacrifice and your numerous struggles, you have created ‘PISTI’ and you should know that we are at your side, for anything you might need.
Anastasia Vardoulakis: You should know that without your contribution and that of Mr Papasavvas, we would not have achieved anything. So, as parents, we also wanted to express our admiration and our gratitude for your entire contribution towards the children and the families struggling with cancer. Mrs Vardinoyannis, the message of motherly strength and hope is embodied in your person and your actions. Through daily struggle and tireless contribution. You are a mother of five yourself, however, at the same time, you are a mother figure and a pillar of safety for thousands of other children, for our children, which find help along with their family on a daily basis, through your very broad humanitarian work; you provide strength, you provide hope and optimism with your dedication, just like any other mother. Your devoted struggle for our children, for children with cancer, inspires us, you inspire us, and we join you in this common cause. Just like you said, Mother’s Day is a day honouring mothers all over the world, the women holding in their arms the precious lives of children, wrapping them in love and care. It is a day for the mothers that sit by their child’s forehead and pray that they get better. Allow me to tell you that those of us who have experienced similar situations and were taught to support these mothers and their children, are proud and feel safe knowing that we can rely on you. Because you are the undisputed pioneer of aid to sick children in need. Your international radiance, the global prestige of your personality are proof of your work and a guarantee that it will continue. Forgive me for being so emotional, I don’t know how one could judge the great work you have done. As mothers, however we find it to be priceless. As priceless as the lives of our children that have struggled and continue to struggle with disease, with weapons provided by your struggle to secure the most cutting edge medical and pharmaceutical care in the field of childhood cancer. Your personal struggle and the struggle of all those participating here, the doctors, the medical staff, and first and foremost Director Papasavvas. Mrs Vardinoyannis, my respect and love for you is vast. I would like you to allow me, here today, as a small token of our appreciation towards your person, and as an indication of respect and recognition of your leading role in the battle against childhood cancer, to offer you even at a distance this bouquet of flowers, and to wish that you are always blessed with the spiritual strength to respond to your work. We will place it here, in your office, in the hope that we will soon have you near us.
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: I honestly cannot control my tears, I have been moved so greatly by your words, mostly moved for you, the ones going through this trying time, and you personally, for finding the words to tell me all the things that I do out of no obligation, but because I truly feel the need to do them. I feel for every child of yours as though they are my own, I suffer with you every time I find out that something did not go well. For me to get used to the struggle you face on a daily basis and to be able to participate, I had to spend entire nights with the thought that some of our children would not do well. But I thought about it and said that I must stand at the side of the children because I am not contributing anything like this, and I never regretted it. I have dedicated 30 years of my life to this struggle, truly, in the way you described when you expressed yourself, with love and respect towards ‘ELPIDA’, because I am not alone in this work. I may be an inspiration, but there is an army of people, such as our Director, the nursing staff, the ‘ELPIDA’ Association, its Board of Directors, ‘ORAMA ELPIDAS’, ‘ELPIDA Youth’, we are all united in the struggle to stand up for and defend children in need. Recently, over the last 2.5 months, I cannot escape the nightmare of thinking that our children are one of the vulnerable groups, and every morning, as Mr Papasavvas will tell you, I call him and ask if all the children are well, and I ask him to keep them safe. I don’t just have my five children, it is as if all the children of ‘ELPIDA’ are my own and I love them all in the same way. That is why everything I do feels like it is my obligation and a struggle for life. I congratulate you and bow before you, because you are the true fighters. As a mother, I too have had difficult moments with my children, because raising five children is no easy task. Know that I will always be at your side, your ally. ‘PISTI’ has proven that it has parents dedicated to this struggle and that moves all of us, not just me personally, and I pray that we will be at your side for anything you need from us.
Thank you for the springtime and the flowers you brought into our home, they bring me joy, even if I can’t go out and come near you. But we must stay hopeful that as love and hope support our hospital, so we must think that very soon this nightmare shall pass and I will come to you and embrace you. I would like to send you, dear Anastasia, and Constantinos a hug! Happy Mother’s day, my dear! The only thing I can do is bow before you and wish you strength and courage. The day belongs to you, the heroes of life! Kiss my beloved Constantinos from me.