A Bus Ride Changed My Life

Veronica Noronha – Mumbai, October 2007

My name is Veronica Noronha.

I was born on 1st September 1960 in Mumbai, married in the year 1980 and I am presently living with my husband, daughter, mother-in-law and brother in Sion , Mumbai.. I was working in Doha, Qatar in a beauty parlour as a beautician and I was very happy with my work, friends, sponsor (Hude Ansari) and all my clients.

Suddenly, in October 2005, I started getting high fever, backache, giddiness and I also lost a lot of weight. At first I took things very lightly, but when I could not continue to work, I phoned my husband in Mumbai about the problem. He consulted our family physician Dr. Karanjkar, who suggested I get a blood test done. After the test result came back, the doctor in Qatar followed it up with a bone marrow test which confirmed my disease, CML -CHRONIC MYLOID LEUKAEMIA.

Immediately my mind cried out… 'Niloufer- my daughter, who will take care of you?'

This was the only thought troubling me at that time, and I wondered how she would live without me. My relatives and friends too were very shocked and saddened to hear about my illness. I returned to Mumbai and started my treatment with Dr. Advani at the Jaslok Hospital. We were taken aback when we heard about the cost of the drug – GLIVEC- that

I was to take. As I was earning in the Middle East perhaps the doctor thought I had funds to buy this expensive medication and the only thought that crossed my mind was that when you are up against something like this even working abroad was of no use.

But then God has made ways to sort our problems.

We live in Sion, and hence took the No. 88 bus to go to Jaslok hospital, which passed by the Novartis office building en route. One day, on seeing the building, a thought crossed my mind and I sent my brother to the Novartis office to see if we could get some help. He met a male receptionist there and asked him if we could get some kind of discount on the drug, Glivec. This considerate person immediately called Viji madam at the Max Foundation saying that there was a lady who could not afford Glivec and was enquiring about it. I was asked to come the next day with my file to their office. Viji madam was happy to see me and enquired about my family and the disease. She also asked detailed questions about my income and I told her I had had to give up my job in Doha because of my illness and was back in India trying to settle in somehow. While talking to her I mentioned that I was hoping to get Glivec from Novartis at a discount because of my financial situation. She immediately called Dr. Advani and spoke to him, after which she told me that I will be getting my medicines for free under Novartis' donation programme. I was very happy to hear that…it was like a miracle for me.

I feel that God should bless these people who are helping us to fight this disease.

At present, I am fit and strong, on a 400mg dose. I am a part of GIPAP, the Glivec International Patient Assistance Programme and I love Novartis and the Max Foundation. I pray to God to have many more  people like Viji madam who can help us and save the lives of many. The MAX foundation is really a boon to society. I also get notes and information from them which are very helpful. Once again thank you Viji madam, Dr. Pallavi, Ayesha, Sharon and also the kind receptionist at the Novartis office who changed my life.

May God bless you all.