The Max Foundation along with Tata Memorial Hospital organized
its last GIST Support Group Meet in Mumbai at Tata Memorial Hospital on Saturday, 12th July 2014. It was a typical monsoon day marked by heavy rains that Mumbai sees around this time of the year. However, it did not dampen the spirit of FOM volunteers, survivors and caregivers from around the country who took part in this event. They were also joined by two prominent doctors actively involved in GIST treatment – Dr. Vikas Ostwal and Dr. Abhishek Mithra from Tata Memorial Hospital.
Opening the meet, Ayeshah, the Max Foundation Regional Head – West and Central India, thanked all the participants for attend the meeting and reviewed the agenda of the meet. This was followed by a presentation made by Viji (“Amma”) Venkatesh, the country head of The Max Foundation, providing updates on Max Foundation’s overall reach and new initiatives. She also took the opportunity to launch the GIST Website within the Max Foundation Portal (https://friendsofmax.info/default/fom-gisters) which will surely be welcomed by all GISTers!!
Viji talked about 13th of July (the very next day after the event) being observed as World GIST Awareness Day and gave a brief introduction of the LifeRaft Group. This was followed by a Team Event where all the participants actively involved themselves into making “origami boats” signifying awareness of the event. The boats were released into Arabian Sea by Viji and Team at the end of the day!!
Dr. Nikhil Guhagarkar, One of the GIST survivors and a very active FOM member was invited to talk about the New Horizon GIST Meet – 2014, in Zurich, Switzerland, wherein he represented FOM, India in May this year. Nikhil shared some very insightful details of the progress being made worldwide around Improving Access to Treatment and Quality of Care for GIST, including topics like Genotyping, Immunotherapy and the Importance of taking the prescribed dose of Glevec every day without fail.
There was a very Interactive Q&A Session with the doctors wherein questions on various topics were answered – from lifestyle changes to the advancements in the available treatment options. The Doctors also informed the group about the newly introduced “mutation testing” service at Tata Memorial Hospital.
The event finally concluded with a note of thanks and some socialization over a cup of chai, with sandwiches and chutney, just apt for a perfect finish of a great event on a beautiful rainy day!!
Pranay Ranjan-FOM Bangalore