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The Origin of EmPat Emojis

by Nina Beaty, EmPat creator and cancer patient

I came up with the idea of creating ‘cancer emojis” about 3 years ago when I was under going chemotherapy treatments as a small cell lung cancer patient. I would sit in the chair, tethered to the treatment pole, trying to keep those who loved me up-to-date by texting on my cell phone. Though I very much wanted to be in touch, I found I was too overwhelmed both physically and emotionally to respond to each one of them. 

 

Which is when I heard myself wishing, ‘Oh, if there were only emojis just for cancer patients that I could send out instead of having to write what was going on with me, it would be such a big help’. Soon thereafter, I started drawing little cartoons in a black sketchbook that illustrated some of the funny, sad, frustrating moments I had been experiencing at the treatment clinic. I then became curious and began asking other cancer patients, “If you had one emoji to express yourself, what would you want it to tell others?” and I got wonderful answers such as “Mainly the fatigue” or “Sad, I will never be able to live my life freely again”. 

 

So that’s how the EmPat Project began.

 

Privacy policy is very simple. EmPat does not collect any information about who downloads or uses are products in any way.  We let you use them and we ask no questions, we collect no data, and we leave you alone entirely.  

EmPat has evolved over the years

How did you come up with the name EmPat?

That's an easy one. The character in the aqua headgear is "Pat" (shorthand for PATient) and Pat's purple friend is "Em" (shorthand for EMpathy). "EmPat" comes from joining the friends' names side-by-side. I'm grateful to my creative team who spent their after-work hours making The EmPat Project happen, --project director Amory Millard with me here in NYC as we skyped with producer Kevin Smith and animator Cindy Blakney in far away New Brunswick, Canada. Below are examples of how my original sketches were transformed into GIF animations by Cindy: