DATE: 15TH July 2011
VENUE: Hotel Marriot
The Pune regional meet, held on the 15th of July 2011 at the Hotel Marriot, was the first Friends Of Max meeing that I attended. My parents have been attending the various meets held in Pune and Mumbai. I always keep hearing a lot about the FOM family, especially about Viji Amma, Ayeshah, the core volunteers for Mumbai and for Pune, Nikhil Batra, Shashikant Jakhade, Ashish Mahajan, Abhishek Patidar and Rahul Shinde. I was very excited because I was finally going to meet them.
The morning began with a rally, organized by “Decimate (the big C) “, the group that was organising the Community Activities for the Best Of ASCO event that our meeting was a part of, aiming to create awareness regarding the association of tobacco addiction and cancer. The walk, from Pune University Circle to the venue of the event, was filled with the shouting of slogans and flashing of boards that indicated certain facts about smoking and cancer. We were a bit late to jointhe rally, but nevertheless, it was an amazing experience. My mother introduced me to a few of the members of the FOM family. This walk also made me feel a bit nostalgic since I used to study in Pune University and stayed on the University campus for 5 years. Not a single evening had passed that I had not walked down that road. But this one was surely a walk to remember.
Once at the venue, I was overjoyed to meet Viji Amma and Ayeshah. It had been a long time since I had met them. After meeting them and getting a warm welcome into this family, we participated in the arrangements for the meet, setting up the registration desk, arranging the material to be given to the patients/family members that came to attend the meet. During registration, the members were given different coloured badges, lovely jute bags containing some informative material and FAQs. They were also asked to participate in the signature campaign where they were asked to pen down their names and signatures indicating their awareness and involvement in creating awareness about cancer.
The event began with the national anthem followed by Viji Amma addressing the members gathered. She then spoke about Max and the inception of The Max Foundation as well as certain facts and figures regarding CML. This was followed by a compliance workshop, in which the members were asked to group themselves according to the colours of their badges. One volunteer leader was allotted to each group and the patients were asked to fill the compliance forms. This whole exercise was to understand the regularity with which the patients take their medicines as well as to make them understand the importance of the same. Dr. Padmaj Kulkarni as well as some of the volunteer leaders shared tips to help remember to take medicines regularly. It was amazing to see a 9 year old boy share with the group how he remembered to take his medicine. He said ‘I know it is for my own good and so I do not forget.’ Well, just reminded me of the fact that sometimes big things come in small packets.
The compliance workshop was followed by an interactive session with Dr. Padmaj Kulkarni and Dr. Sachin Hingmire. The patients were encouraged to share their queries and concerns and get them cleared. The interactive session was the most happening and activity filled part of the event. This was followed by a session of complete silence and attention as Dr. Ashuta Rathod spoke about the nutritional aspects of different kinds of foods. She gave a variety of useful and easy tips on how to incorporate various healthy ingredients into our regular diet.
Later on, some of the patients shared their experiences and how Glivec was working wonders for them. The event came to a delightful end with vote of thanks proposed by Ayeshah and the acquaintance of the volunteers with the members helping them to recognize the volunteer who had contacted them for the meet. It was truly an event filled with enthusiasm, knowledge and loads of care.
Reported by Kalyani Dhake, FOM Volunteer Pune