Man Who Lived 30 Years After A Bad Diagnosis Finally Gets News About His Doctors

Living well into your old age may sound like a dream come true, or it may sound like a bit of a nightmare. When you’re as healthy as Stamatis Moraitis, however, living past 100 is nothing to scoff at. The veteran, who survived a civil war, a civil rights movement, and a terminal diagnosis, received the wildest news when he returned to the hospital thirty years after doctors thought he’d be dead.

Stamatis (we’ll call him “Stam” for short) was a Greek soldier back in the 1940s, and, in the midst of the fighting, was shot in the arm. Needing extensive medical treatment to survive, Stam was sent to the United States.

Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Stam managed to escape over to Turkey, where he convinced the Queen Elizabeth troopship to allow him onboard. From there, he journeyed across the Atlantic and landed in New York — all with an arm that desperately needed attention.


When Stam got to New York, he found a community of folks from the little Greek island he hailed from, Ikaria. They helped him find medical assistance, as well as a place to work. Once Stam had saved up, he moved to Boynton Beach, Florida, where he fell in love.

Over 30 years later, Stam was officially living the American dream. He had a loving marriage, three beautiful children, and a picturesque home near the beach. However, the stairs in his house were starting to strain Stam’s lungs.

Snappy Goat

Worried about his shortness of breath, Stam headed to the doctor’s office. They performed X-rays, and nine different doctors concluded that Stam had lung cancer. For a man in his 60s, this could mean very little time to live. They gave Stam nine months.

With such a heavy diagnosis, Stam was torn. Should he stay in America and start chemotherapy? Should he be near his children in case things went south? Ever faithful to his homeland, Stam instead decided to go back to the island he was born.


On Ikaria, there was a cemetery overlooking the Aegean Sea where Stam’s ancestors were buried. Stam decided he’d like to join them under the oak trees for the rest of time. Plus, a funeral in the U.S.? That’d cost thousands, and Stam wanted to leave his family with money.


Surprisingly, Stam’s elderly parents were still alive and well. His mother and wife helped take care of him as he became weaker and weaker. His old friends came by to visit and reconnect, which lifted Stam’s spirits. But then, something strange happened.


Stam was beginning to feel stronger. He was moving and breathing better. He even managed to garden some vegetables! Still, Stam didn’t think he’d live long enough to see his seeds grow. At least his wife could enjoy them, he thought.


Sure enough, Stam managed to live long enough to enjoy his fully-grown vegetables. He continued doing garden work and interacting with his old community. He played dominoes and frequented local taverns. The 9-month mark soon passed — as did the years!

Stam continued working on his garden all on his own. Soon, he built extensions on his parents’ home so his children could visit from the U.S. And 35 years later, Stam was officially cancer free! The surprising part? He never even went through chemotherapy!

Blue Zones/Facebook

Without drugs, treatments, or therapy, Stam was cured. How could this be? According to experts, the best thing Stam did for himself was return home. And no, it wasn’t nostalgia that brought him back to his health.

Picture by Andrea Frazzetta

Researchers found that the people who lived in Ikaria were living remarkably long. So long, in fact, that the island held some of the longest-living communities on the planet! But it wasn’t just their longevity. Ikarians were actually healthier than the rest of the world.

Andrea Frazzetta/LUZphoto for The New York Times

Ikarians were winning when it came to disease survival. They were way ahead of other nations when it came to beating-out cancer, cardiovascular problems, and dementia. Why was this little island such a phenomenon?


Back in the 17th-century, Ikaria was where Grecians went to relax. They’d vacation in the gorgeous mountains and sit in the spa-like hot springs. The island was praised for clean air and fresh water. It was still hard to explain how citizens were benefiting so profoundly.

I Love Greek Wine/Annie Angelides

According to a doctor from Ikaria, their way of life played a huge role. People would stay up late to enjoy one another’s company over bottles of wine from their vineyards. They’d nap often, keep loose business hours, and ignore time. Was that all it really took to live past 100?

Unfortunately, accurate birth records in Ikaria are still hard to come by. With so many citizens claiming to be 80, then 90, then 100, researchers began to distrust the data. After all, having a large population of centenarian is sure to attract tourists. However, there may be more to it.

Michael van Geyt/Wikipedia

Ikarians have been providing for themselves for generations. Their separation from the “modern world” was clearly benefiting their health. When Communists were sent to the islands in the late 1940s after the Greek Civil War, communal living became even more accepted.


Between a diet of locally-grown crops and healing teas, a selfless community, and a general sense of timelessness, Ikaria was making a statement: It proved that the best way to live long was to live easy. After his wife’s death, Stam lived on — and made a shocking discovery.

New York Times

The nine doctors who had given Stam his fatal diagnosis had all passed away themselves! Whether or not the veteran really had lung cancer that disappeared on its own remains a mystery that Ikarians will forever pass down as folklore. The Greeks just live differently!


If you asked the people of Crete about Theoklitos Proestakis, you’d likely see a lot of puzzled looks. But if you mentioned him by his nickname, Takis, just about everyone would know him. He’s got quite a reputation on that island.

The Greek man practiced dentistry in the picturesque town of Ierapetra, and neither he nor his neighbors ever thought they could ask for more. But by 2009, their dream lifestyles began to crumble.

The global financial crisis hit Greece extremely hard, and the following years saw the country’s debt and unemployment skyrocket. As some households lost everything, riots and protests broke out on the streets.

All over the isle of Crete, families made heartbreaking decisions to save money, particularly when it came to their pets. Some people abandoned their animals out in the wilderness. Others did much worse.

YouTube / The Dodo

The aftermath nearly broke Takis. A lifelong canine lover, he couldn’t believe it when he drove past a local landfill. Countless dogs had made it their home, and they were fighting over scraps to survive.

Facebook / Takis Shelter

Unable to bear the sight of these poor animals suffering, the dentist gave them some relief. He snuck through the fence and poured a bag of dog food in a clearing. As the dogs scarfed it up, Takis noticed many of them were in dire need of medical attention.

Facebook / Takis Shelter

For the weakest pooches, Takis called in some favors from doctor friends to nurse them back to health. Still, he knew this was a short-term solution. If these dogs stayed out in the open, most of them would die.

Fortunately, an open stretch of land on the outskirts of Ierapetra presented a solution. Takis figured that it could function as a temporary sanctuary for the abandoned dogs. At the very least, it would be better than living in the dump.

Facebook / Takis Shelter

In 2012, the Cretan began moving the neglected pooches to the site, which he dubbed the Takis Shelter. He hoped the dogs could hole up there until they found permanent homes, though the situation immediately proved more complicated than he imagined.

Facebook / Takis Shelter

Some neighbors complained about the noise from the dogs, and a few hotheads even threatened violence. Nevertheless, Takis blocked out their insults and warnings. He had enough to deal with inside his own organization.

YouTube / Ruptly

As more dogs entered the shelter, his costs spiraled out of control. For one thing, he spent nearly $2,000 per month just feeding all the pooches. But some had even more expensive needs.

YouTube / Takis Shelter

A number of the dogs weren’t spayed or neutered, so Takis paid for these operations out-of-pocket to keep his shelter population from spiraling out of control. Before long, he took extreme measures to keep everything from going under.

Takis essentially gave up his old life! He already left dentistry behind to care for Crete’s abandoned dogs, but soon enough, he also had to sell his home and his car just to pay the bills. There was almost nothing left for him.

From there on out, the Takis Shelter also became the home of its founder. He slept and took his meals right alongside the animals he was rescuing and feeding. Many people would’ve considered this rock bottom.

Facebook / Takis Shelter

But strangely enough, Takis felt more fulfilled than ever before. While there was no denying that his new life was hard, he knew he was really making a difference. And word about his mission started to get around too.

The Pappas Post

As the population of the shelter approached 200, Takis felt increasingly overwhelmed, but he wouldn’t be alone for long. Both friends and strangers from Ierapetra began to show up at the gates. They wanted to lend a helping hand.

Facebook / Takis Shelter

Though not everyone had the time to volunteer, many more aided Takis’ efforts in their own ways. Crates of food and pet supplies, mostly from other countries, arrived on his doorstep. Suddenly, Takis had enough support to do more than just scrape by.

Takis Shelter

As a matter of fact, Takis opened up a new branch of the shelter specifically for abandoned house cats. After all, dogs weren’t the only ones kicked out of their homes after the recession.

Takis Shelter

In time, Takis Shelter finally began achieving its ultimate goal: finding permanent homes for their pets. Delighted visitors swarmed in to find a new family member and left with huge smiles on their faces.

The Nomad Pup

For Takis, it’s bittersweet to see his canine pals leave him, but he knows they’re off to a better place. He continues to pull unfortunate pups out of landfills and alleys every day, though now he’s sure he’s not just giving them shelter. He’s giving them hope.

Instagram / Takis Shelter