The wife of the President of the French Republic, Brigitte Macron, visited the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis-ELPIDA” Children’s Oncology Unit on Friday, 17 September 2021. Ms Macron was accompanied by the wife of the Prime Minister of Greece, Ms Mareva Mitsotaki.
The two ladies were welcomed by the President of the ‘ELPIDA Association of Friends of Children with Cancer’, Ms Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, and the joint Director of Children’s Hospitals Agia Sofia and P&A Kyriakou’, Mr Manolis Papasavvas. The children of the Oncology Unit had prepared craft projects for the two ladies, dedicated to the long-standing friendship between Greece and France, which Mrs. Vardinoyannis handed to them on behalf of the children.
Welcoming Ms Macron in French, Ms Vardinoyannis said: “It is a great honour and pleasure to welcome you to our Oncology Unit today. The presence of the First Lady of the French Republic, Ms Brigitte Macron, whom I have the great honour of calling a “dear friend,” is a great moment in the history of ELPIDA. Ms. Macron is a true friend of our country, and through her example and actions she strengthens the historical ties of friendship linking Greece and France. Dear Brigitte, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here today at the side of the children of ELPIDA and their families. Words do not suffice to express how grateful and moved I am by your presence here with us today.”
Ms Vardinoyannis also thanked Ms Mitsotaki for her valuable support to ELPIDA’s work: I feel deeply moved because, for many years now, Ms Mitsotaki has honoured me with her precious and sincere friendship. I know well how large her heart and her love for the children are. My dear Mareva, I am extremely grateful for your presence here today and your unwavering support. Your support in our struggle is invaluable, and I thank you deeply for it!”
As a token of gratitude, Ms Vardinoyannis presented the two ladies with an olive wreath and the statuette of ELPIDA – a mother holding a child in her arms – commenting: “Today is a milestone for ELPIDA and for our country, because together we are jointly sending a loud message that childhood cancer can and must be defeated.”
Ms Macron showed great interest in the work of the Oncology Unit and asked to be informed in detail on how the Unit operates, congratulating Ms Vardinoyannis warmly for her fight and contribution against childhood cancer. “The work you are doing is awe-inspiring,” noted Ms Macron, who was very interested in the latest cancer treatment methods, and specifically in the work of the Cell and Gene Therapy Centre, which operates at the Oncology Unit. Ms. Macron mentioned in fact that in France gene therapy is also the most advanced method for treating childhood cancer, and she proposed that the two countries collaborate in this field.
After that, the two ladies placed the stars with their names on the “ELPIDA Wall of Stars” and were then given a tour of the Hospital.
During their visit to the Oncology Unit school, Ms Macron was impressed with the children’s artwork and the work of the teachers, who give hope to the children.
Especially moving was the moment when young Louisa, hospitalized at the Children’s Oncology Unit, wanted to greet the ladies. Together with her father, young Louisa talked to Ms Macron, Ms Vardinoyannis and Ms Mitsotaki, who, with love and tenderness, wished her strength and courage in her great struggle and that she quickly regains her health and returns home, to her family and friends.