February 4 is World Cancer Day which was founded to raise awareness of cancer, encourage its prevention and treatment, as well as to support cancer patients and their families. But when it comes to Greece, the situation is a little bit different.
In Greece, during this period of economic crisis, a main issue for citizens is that they simply don’t have enough money to pay for health insurance as approximately one in three citizens is uninsured. As a consequence, many uninsured patients struggle daily with the expenses they must incur resulting from their disease.
Among them are many cancer patients and their families who are trying to cope with the disease itself and its unbearable cost since they do not have any financial support from the Greek state.
Giorgos, 47, was diagnosed with cancer two months ago. “When I heard the doctor I was shocked. Time stood still and I couldn’t react. I was thinking of my wife, my kids, my dreams and at the same time I was uninsured and didn’t have the financial means to fight for my life,” Giorgos said to the Greek newspaper Efimerida ton Syntakton.
Cancer has two merciless features: the battle is very expensive and treatment must be followed immediately after diagnosis. Medicine costs approximately 2,000 euros for a period lasting ten or twenty days and radiotherapy costs 700 euros a treatment. Frequent blood tests (40 euros each) and X-ray computed tomographies (at least 100 euros each) are also required along with a balanced diet, psychological support and a good psychology.
Syrago is 34-years-old and has been unemployed for the last 3 and a half years. She is struggling with her everyday needs and expenses and her mother is suffering from cancer. “She is only 57 and refuses to receive chemotherapy treatments. She thinks that she is a burden for me because she cannot walk, take care of herself or contribute money toward treatments. Many cancer patients feel this way,” Syrago said.
Eleni’s husband has also been diagnosed with cancer and unemployed. Going through endless bureaucracy in an attempt to obtain the money required for proper treatment, left them exhausted. “I’m deeply disappointed with the Greek state. If we were living in another country we could rely on social services, on our insurance or on psychologists provided by the public hospital. At this point, all we can only rely on is the solidarity of our fellow citizens. The Greek Society of Cancer Patients is helping us find the proper medicine, run the tests required and generally cope with the everyday struggles of the disease,” Eleni stated.