The Friends of Max 2010 Maximize Life Campaign was launched at the regional meeting in Kolkata on the 19th September. The event was a means to bring together survivors and their families to share and learn from each other and spread the message of courage and compassion. Over three hundred and seventy people braved the unseasonal rains and came from all corners of the state of Bengal in the East of India.
Besides the by now trade mark and ever popular Q and A session with our ever willing physicians, this meeting was characterized by some truly inspiring testimonials by the City Chapter Volunteer leaders.
Seeing these seasoned survivors so active in the management and organization of the event and then listening to them talk about their journey from the diagnosis to the discovery of their inner strength, the many newly diagnosed and first time attendees came away with renewed vigour and positive feelings. Survivors and care givers shared their coping strategies and touched upon topics that had been shied away from previously. This encouraged many others to come forward and speak of their journey , fears and doubts too.
What people took away from this session was that there need be no stigma attached to cancer and it was perfectly alright to share as intimate and worrisome aspects of the disease as anyone wanted to .
The Tribute Wall was a first for this group and if I thought language would be a challenge then it was the least of my worries. Despite the cramped space , the heat and the crush for time , every person present was totally motivated by the thought that his or her message would reach the world via the magic of a machine and milled around the little table to hear more about what the board and the bird was all about.
It was important that the core group understand the philosophy behind the campaign and with two good aides by my side we encouraged , coaxed and cajoled people to share their Mantra , their Motto and their special moments in their struggle and successes.
One common thread of thought ran through most of the tributes – the strength that came from not being afraid anymore!!
The most energetic volunteers on this day were four young ones ; The Registration Desk, the packing of the educational material and the takeaways , the Tribute Wall and the Lunch counters were manned and supervised by these teenagers whose mothers were survivors and to see the love and energy flowing from them , the good cheer and the need to be there for their mothers’ friends and peers –to me this was the highlight of the event . This highlighted the encouraging fact that the parents had taken these children into their confidence , infused all their positive energies into them , dispelled any fears or misconceptions they might have had and created the ideal environment of awareness and acceptance.
I cannot conclude this post without sharing the most touching of all testimonials – by the husband of a survivor who had the whole auditorium in splits as he shared with everyone important tips on how to cope with the side effects of his spouse’s treatment !!!
It showed how important it was never to lose that sense of humour which kept everyone going that extra mile to maximize lives !!!!!
reported by Viji Venkatesh