Report by Induja, FOM Core Group Member
As I walked past a number of green masked faces, inside the lush green campus of Adayar Cancer Institute, I tend to thank the Almighty for having blessed us with the magic bullet that has been part of our lives for almost 13 years now. Yet again, the Friends of Max Chennai team have arranged the meeting at the Adayar Cancer Institute auditorium. I climb up to the 1st floor and there I meet 4 volunteers from Cancer Institute at the registration desk. Tamil Selvi, the clinical coordinator and her team were enthusiastic in distributing the cards with the Names, What’s your PCR badge, ‘Maximize Life’ wristband, notepad and pen, our own Viji amma’s book Maximo & FAQs to every person attending the meet.
I went to the auditorium, and there she is, the ever-radiant Viji amma near the projector. Before going to her, I said my ‘Hi’ and ‘Hello’ to Nags and Sriram, the core of the FOM Chennai core team. Viji amma is truly magical, the whole energy just transfers to a whole new level when she is around. The Presentation with smiles of survivors and caregivers from all over the globe …. People started pouring in and the auditorium was almost filled by 10.45 AM.
The programme kicked off after saluting our nation with Rahman’s version of the national anthem in the background. Sriram, after his greetings to the crowd, invited Viji amma for the intro speech. Viji amma briefed all about The Max Foundation – how Max has touched each of our lives.
After this was Doctors’ Q&A session, the one every person is looking forward to in FOM meetings. The doctors’ panel, Dr. Ramanan, Dr. Prashanth, Dr. Sagar and Dr. Surender responded to the questions with precise and crystal clear answers. Am sure, all of us who attended the meeting had great take-aways from the Q&A session. The question that topped was about the side effects of Glivec, foremost being the ‘nerve pull’ in the legs. After the Doctors’ Q&A, it was lunch break.
The Chennai FOM meet lunches are always special with typical South Indian fare. This meeting was no exception as the FOM family filled their stomachs with great tasting Sambar rice and curd rice, even as some exchanged life experiences while others spread great laughter and smiles signifying the positivity of this bunch.
Post lunch, as everyone assembled, Viji amma gave a small glimpse of the current scenario, the answer for the complaint – “I travel so much distance to get the 4 months supply of tablets, but these days I’m getting only a month’s supply.” I just hope things work out in favor of all the 18K survivors out there and all of Viji amma’s efforts pay off.
Then came the “My story” sharing session. Viji amma started off sharing her Glaucoma story. Archana came forward to share her story, from the trauma she underwent when she was diagnosed soon after the birth of her second kid till date where she herself is now a hope giver to a bunch of kids in her hometown. The highlight from her speech was this punchline “Diagnosis of Big C in my life is neither a blessing nor a curse. God knows I am strong enough to handle this well, so he gave it to me.” Her hometown buddy Karthikeyan Kanakaraj came next to share his inspirational story. How he had not disclosed about Big C even to his close family until recently when they attended one of the Chai for Cancer events. Karthik Selvam, 16-year old boy as Viji amma quotes is truly neruppu da, he was the most inspirational of the lot. He was clear in stating “if I can you all can.” He was totally cool while singing the song amma amma nee enga(loda) amma dedication to Viji amma, changing the lyrics of the song according to his relationship with Viji amma. After Karthik, Saroja ma came forward to share her husband’s journey. Her husband was the 6th person to get enrolled into GIPAP program. Then came Sravanan and later on Nandhagopal to mention about their respective experiences. As Viji amma stated each of these persons were pushed onto an unexpected destination in their journeys. And I can say with conviction that each of travelled bravely after fighting all odds.
We wrapped up the day sipping steaming Chai and Kaapi as “Kutty Venky” rendered evergreen songs and the rest of the bunch hummed along. Bye byes are never sweet, nor was it this time too, but the goodbyes signified looking forward to another great get-together soon.