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.


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