And then we lived the day to the Max

Together we Share and Learn – 3rd All India Friends of Max Meeting Bangalore 26th Jan 2008

Prashant from Patna whose dear mother has been on Glivec for over five years gave us the slogan and image for this year’s meeting –

We were not created to live a little; let us live life to the Max

And the brilliantly hued kite soaring into the porcelain blue sky was as apt a pictorial representation of this call to attention as any other!! Once the theme was decided upon, in no time at all it permeated every aspect of preparation for the meeting and we began to think big, aim big and there was no stopping us.

The day dawned, cool and crisp on the 57th Republic Day of India and with the sun rose the first batch of volunteers to set the stage, literally for the day’s events to follow.

Huge banners with the kite and sky were erected on the stage and outside the auditorium – St John’s Auditorium in Koramangala; we could not have found a better setting for the day. By seven in the morning the first participants were beginning to trickle in and yes, the Registration team was in place to welcome them and guide them on to a sumptuous breakfast of mouth watering southern delicacies.

The Map, which has by now become an integral part of the registration process of our meetings, soon began to be filled by innumerous little Bindis and the names signed with confident flourishes by everyone filled every inch of the canvas – it will stand as testimony to the enthusiasm and energy generated that day from all over our country ! People came from Coimbatore to Chandigargh; Kollam to Kashmir, Tripura to Tiruchi, Jalagaon to Jodhpur and Jaipur and Baroda to Bhubaneshwar!!!

The atmosphere was one of a great celebration , maybe even a marriage , the meeting yet again of old friends , faces being assigned to well known names and voices from cyber space , our dear Max Foundation family members from the US and Pakistan and Thailand , the Max India team , excited voices calling out in glee as familiar and loved faces were sighted, shy and nervous firs timers soaking in and relaxing in the easy camaraderie they saw amongst the old timers , the volunteers in their dramatic black tees rushing around seeing to every last detail , arms hurriedly put around each other for photographs , the doctors and Novartis personnel welcomed , the emcees huddled in a corner going over their scripts in last minute consultations –yes it had all the makings of a block buster !!

We stood on the stage, trembling with many emotions and a surge of patriotic pride as we sang the National Anthem with the whole auditorium joining us and then the lamp was lit and with the invocation – Hum Honge Kamayab –We Shall Overcome the day was begun – people spoke, presented, shared, exhorted, promised, motivated and inspired each other to reach out and yes Live Life to the Max with each other, besides each other and for each other .

After all that food for thought there was food for the hungry stomach too during which hour and a half old bonds were once again re enforced and new ones forged over pilaf and jalebis …..

Then it was time for the most eagerly awaited segment of the day – the session with the expert medical panel – a dozen of the best in the country – oncologists and hematologists from every part of the country who answered queries with patience and diligence. The day was almost over and we were loath to leave and disperse – yearning looks were passed between each other and a motley group simply sank onto the steps in front of the auditorium , the setting sun’s rays catching the twinkle of a nose ring here , the glitter of a wrist watch there. Soon the enticing, intoxicating beats of a dafli, hands clapping and some lusty singing filled the air and that was enough for the exuberant dancers amongst us to get to their no longer tired feet and then there was no stopping them!!

Yes, we lived life to the Max that day! Max would have been proud of us!!!