1st Patient Support Group Meeting @Nashik

Maharashtra Regional meet for CML and GIST patients was held in Nashik on the 3rd of April, 2016.
The Venue Vishakha Hall was in the heart of the city and was quite a cool and pleasant place. It was a perfect place for a full day meeting in the summers. This was the first Patient Support Group meeting in Nashik city and hence we were expecting a huge number. Amma, Ameya and Sharon from The Max foundation reached the city a day prior to the meeting in order to make sure that everything is in place. The Pune Gang including Amruta, Abhishek, Shashikant, Milan, Trupti and Ravi also reached a day prior to extend support to the Max team.
At the registration counter Amma along with Sharon and Ameya were all set to welcome our patients from near, far and everywhere. Meeting patients at the registration counter is always a lovely sight. No matter how far they come from, they always carry a smile and meet each other like friends and family. After the registration patients along with their caregivers were served with extravagant breakfast just before the meeting. The meeting was then called to attention by singing the National Anthem.
While we had patients still walking in, the meeting started off with a presentation on the Max Foundation very gracefully presented in Marathi by Sharon. She managed to help us understand what The Max Foundation exactly is, what they do, who started it and so on. The meeting continued with a presentation on Friends of Max. Amruta (Pune FOM volunteer) explained what Friends of Max is, how it was formed, how one can become an FOM and why it is important to be a part of a support group like this. This presentation was concluded by a simple story that was told by Amma in a very simple manner to make patients understand that Friends of Max is more like a common station in every patient’s life where they will get to meet people of similar types.
At around 11:00 Ameya took over the show and spoke on the most important topic which was compliance. Ameya spoke in the local language like a friend and explained the importance of being compliant. I guess this is one of the most important point in the Agenda of every meet. This was followed by Q&A’s with the Doctors. I always feel that this session is what majorly patients look forward to. The Panel included Dr Pritesh Junagade, Dr Nagesh Madnoorkar and Dr Shailesh Bondarde. The doctors very patiently answered all the questions raised by the crowd and they were there till each and every patient received their respective answers. We then proceeded for lunch.
Post-lunch there was a workshop was on “Drama Therapy”, organized by Amma in which the patients and their caregivers were divided into four groups with four different scenarios which they had to enact on. Every group was led by an FOM member. The participants took up the role of a doctor, patient, caregivers etc. I love the way patients came up with their head held high and acted with superb confidence. Workshops like these, brings out the best in a person and lets him/her forget everything that he is bothered about and that is why this Workshop is one of my favourites.

Since we had some time before the Vote of Thanks, Amma invited patients who came up on the stage and shared their stories. Some stories brought tears and some laughter but at the end every story was an inspiration.

These Meetings always teach me that Life is like the ocean. It can be calm or still,
and rough or rigid, but in the end, it is always beautiful.

The Meeting ended with a Vote of Thanks in Marathi by Ravi uncle, a group Selfie as always and chit chats over Chai with Biscoot.

Report by Amruta Patidar- FOM Pune