The Joy of Giving Life Through Gipap
My mobile phone rang yet once again on a really hectic workday. It was past seven in the evening and I had just shut down my laptop after processing some fifteen new applications requesting for Glivec at no cost under Novartis’ GIPAP Programme. I picked up the mobile to hear a tiny little girl’s voice lisping in rustic accented Telugu… “Thank You Beena Aunty…!” While still recovering from my surprise, I heard a man’s voice take over, “Madam, this is S. The voice you heard just now was of my 3 year old daughter M. She has CML Madam. And just today we got the first supply of free medicine (Glivec) that you arranged to get for us. I told M that you have saved her life and she wanted to thank you, Madam. As I placed the phone down, my eyes were filled, but my heart soaring. Such is the awesome satisfaction in working as part of the Novartis-The Max Foundation GIPAP programme.
Ever since Viji (Country Head, Max India) called me one day in June 2004 and asked me if I would like to join the programme as a volunteer, this has been the tone and tenor of my work here. Earlier, I had been, as a volunteer, assisting Dr. V P Gangadharan of The Lakeshore Hospital, Kochi, when he first started registering patients under the programme. This was how I came in contact with CML and GIST patients for the first time. (My childhood impressions of the magnitude of such an illness came from my brother’s brief but successful struggle against ALL and the trauma that my family went through during that period.) The sights of suffering I had to endure almost made me quit the field. But Dr. Gangadharan’s and understanding counseling kept me involved in it.
In September 2004 I was made Assistant Max Station at Kochi and in January 2006, I became a full-fledged Max Station in charge of the Southern Region. My concept of Power has always been that of an ability to influence rather than to command. One cannot find a better demonstration of this power in action than in the GIPAP Programme. The light of hope that springs to the eye of a patient when he is accepted in to the Programme, and the smile of joy one is greeted with every time thereafter…these are truly unforgettable. GIPAP’s success wouldn’t be possible without the wonderful physicians we work with. And the respect is mutual. Time and again, I have been pleasantly surprised by the warmth displayed to me by the senior-most clinical oncologists in the country, all thanks to GIPAP.
It isn’t right to conclude without a mention about The Friends of Max. This Association of patients and their caregivers forms a selfless support group which brings solace to each other and also a degree of service and additional organizational ability to Max India, as we are lightly staffed, and all the help we can get is most welcome.
Every life is incomplete unless a part of it is lived for others. And every one of us who works for The Max Foundation knows the joy of this completeness to his or her life, thanks to Novartis and GIPAP.