Chennai Meeting-Report by Saravanan Shanmugham

At the Support Group Meeting held on 25 February 2023, for the CML patients at Adyar Cancer Institute, Chennai, organized by The Max Foundation for Friends of Max, Saravanan Shanmugham, FOM City Chapter Leader from Chennai, was interviewed and asked to share his views:

1. Importance of Support Group Meetings for patients?

Typically, when we go for our OPD appointments, we get to meet only one physician, and that too there is very little time to speak and clarify all our concerns. But meetings like this provide a forum for patients to interact with multiple physicians at one time and find answers to multiple questions, not necessarily restricted to ours only. It is also an opportunity which allows patients to mutually exchange problems and share best practices with other fellow patients. It also helps to create friendships with a few more people during the meeting.

2. What are your feelings when you meet the FOM community?

It’s a humble feeling to meet many patients who have had similar experiences like myself overcoming fear and agony and who are also advocates for other CML patients. When I see most patients leading a normal life, I feel comfortable and reassured to live without fear. I also feel that there is someone there to reach out to, beyond physicians, when I am in need or in self-doubt. The FOM community gives me strength and hope and also encourages me to do better for society at large.

3. What are your thoughts on the interactive sessions organized at these Support Group Meetings?

Sessions were well arranged and thought through. The sessions give us an opportunity to interact during the entire day. Especially in the afternoon session, groups were formed and respective questions were shared. Within the group, we saw tremendous energy and everyone actively contributed.

4. Do you have any expectations from the future FOM Meeting?

a. These meetings should happen every 3-6 months since it gives an opportunity for patients to meet share and learn.

b. Can the CML FAQ book, be also shared in the local WhatsApp group, in the local language? It would also help if the same information can be made more visual than textual, as it is currently.

c. Another important question which needs to be thought about is, how to keep up the momentum of friendship and sharing that we garner during the meetings.

 d. At government hospitals including at Adyar Cancer Institute, bus passes are provided to the patients and caregivers when they come. Usually, a lot of patients during the meeting rush out to collect these passes. Can we make available these passes at the meeting venue itself, so that patients do not leave the meeting midway?

e. The list of new volunteers/key persons identified during such patient meetings should be published regularly on the local WhatsApp groups for ready information available to local patients.

f. Would be nice, if, in the next meeting, the workshop sessions could be held in the morning hours since many people need to leave to catch the bus/train to their hometown.