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Drink For A Cause – how Chai for Cancer donations are utilized

Chai for Cancer : A unique awareness campaign and fundraiser for CML and GIST patients on life long treatment.

The first Chai for Cancer Adda was hosted by Viji Venkatesh, Region Head for South Asia – The Max Foundation and Managing Trustee – Friends of Max, at her home one May afternoon in 2014. This was the result of some serious thinking on trying to  create an association between a dreaded disease and a normal everyday ritual like drinking tea – to bring cancer out into the open and in an environment where a ‘new normal’ could be embraced – where patients, their families, friends  and neighbours could gather, drink tea together and raise their cups for a cause.
The idea has since borne fruit. In the last four years, over 125 Addas have been hosted all over India – drawing a variety of voluntary hosts from a wide spectrum across the country. Since 2015, Addas have been hosted overseas as well.
Chai for Cancer thus has become the fund-raising and advocacy platform for the Friends of Max.
Friends of Max is a registered charitable trust whose members — including patients, caregivers and other volunteers — carry out various patient-centric activities for CML and GIST survivors. It is the Support Group Arm of the Max Foundation in India.
The money that is raised at a Chai for Cancer Adda is used to support patients who are under life-long treatment for their cancers in the following ways:
-To reimburse costs of Medical Tests incurred for periodic monitoring
-To provide need-based Nutritional support required for compliance
-To reimburse transportation and accommodation costs incurred by patients on their visits to their treatment centres.
In addition, another important part of Friends of Max’s intervention is providing Advocacy & Support through our Patient Support Group Meetings. These monthly meetings held in different cities and towns throughout the length and breadth of the country bring patients together and empower them by sharing and learning from each other’s experiences. We provide a platform where Physicians, Patients & Caregivers come together so that patients can freely discuss their apprehensions, concerns and queries about their medical condition and managing their lives while on medication.
Friends of Max today has more than 16000 CML and GIST patients who have access to lifelong medication provided through the Compassionate Access programs managed by The Max Foundation. However, from our experience of living with cancer for over a decade and more, we have learnt that mere access to medication is not enough. Being on lifelong therapy entails compliance and monitoring which has financial implications for both the patient and patient’s family. This is especially pronounced if the patient comes from a financially underprivileged background. This is the case in more than 90% of our patient profile. It is envisaged that through the support from funds raised by Chai for Cancer, a patient’s health, finances and emotional well-being, in general, are not compromised and the ability to be compliant is improved in great measure as well.

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