Soorina Arora, Mumbai, January 2008

Little did I know when I met Viji in 2004, at the launch of my book that I would get deeply involved with the Friends of Max in the years to come. When I extended a hand of friendship to Viji , along with her, an entire family of patients extended their hands to me in return

Even my book seems like an excuse, which God used, to include me in this noble cause and I will always be grateful to it for having made me a part of the Max Foundation.I distinctly remember one of the first things Viji told me, “God gave me everything. But he didn’t give me Cancer.” I was shocked by her words because Cancer shocks all of us. However, after three years I know what she meant because through the remarkable stories that I get to read, I can see that this disease brings out the finest qualities in every patient, making them superhuman beings.

At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll say that there is not much I do by way of editing, besides doing some proof reading and making minor corrections. These stories are real, and there is no greater storyteller than the one who speaks the truth. Though Viji tells me most of the patients are reluctant to talk about their experiences, I hope the stories keep coming in as they are positive and motivating. It is humbling to see that the patients display an innate sense of modesty in spite of having dealt with so many traumas.

There are a few things that always touch a chord in my heart; the way most patients write the exact date and time they learned of their disease, the use of capital letters for the word CANCER, which conveys how shaken they felt when they heard it, and the adoration they feel for all those associated with the Max Foundation. I would also like to share with you how tired I was of my computer, which kept underlining the word Glivec because it did not recognize it. But now I feel even more a part of this great organization after I added Glivec to my computer’s dictionary!

I want to express a final word of admiration for those who have been brave enough to fight with this disease and to those at Novartis and the Max Foundation who have given the patients the requisite ammunition to fight it. The thing about Cancer that I have understood is that every other problem pales in comparison, enabling the patients to value all that life has to offer. So they suffer through Cancer and nothing else, but the rest of us who do not suffer from Cancer, suffer from every other problem there is!

Soorina Arora lives in Mumbai with her husband and two daughters. She is an accomplished writer and poet and her work has been featured in various publications, both in India and abroad. Her first novel ‘Anamika’ was launched recently. Soorina volunteered to edit the stories in this booklet and has also written the Foreword. Welcome Soorina to the world of the Friends of Max.