Max Birthday Celebrations – Delhi

{mosimage}FOM Delhi meets to celebrate Max’s Birth Anniversary –
DATE: 8th NOVEMBER 2008  
VENUE:  Sir Ganga Ram Hospital auditorium

The Delhi FOM meeting was scheduled for Nov 08, 2008 and a month before itself Seema ji had begun calling everyone and getting confirmations. The venue was the auditorium of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. It was a pleasant Saturday evening as November being the month when Delhi is on the threshold of the lovely winter season.

 One could feel a slight autumnal nip in the air. At Ganga Ram hospital one could easily find our way to the venue as posters of ‘Maximize Your Life’ were used as signage. Upon entering the venue we were greeted by a Welcome Desk. We were given our name cards, Book on FAQs on CML, collection of experiences of CML survivors aptly titled ‘WE WERE NOT CREATED TO LIVE A LITTLE, and ‘COLORS OF HOPE: Expressions of cancer survivors around the world.

As usual Viji Amma and Appa were the first ones to arrive along with part time Delhi FOM Pramod! The time of the meeting was 6.p.m. and people started trickling in and by 6.30 p.m. we were a packed house. Amma was her usual warm and affectionate self. She greeted everyone with her trademark Bear Hug and a broad smile. We were all seated and she began by giving a presentation on the Max Foundation. It’s beginnings as a support group for Spanish speaking parents of children diagnosed with blood cancers and how it expanded its wings and made its mission to provide access to treatment to leukemia patients worldwide. She also shared in this presentation some of the experiences of Cancer survivors in other countries.

All this gave us an insight to the fact that on being diagnosed with a disease like leukemia we all experience universal emotions that of devastation, despair and the trepidation of the long and enormously expensive treatment. But how with courage and determination we can all turn all our trials and tribulations into hope and courage. The Max Foundation extends its support by providing us with access to the ‘wonder drug’ Glivec which Novartis donates at no cost to us. It certainly performs this mammoth task in a seemingly effortless manner through its members who tirelessly interview people and induct them in this programme and organize meetings, which act as a support group for patients.

This was followed by testimonies shared by Friends of Max and again surfaced universal emotions, which we face on being diagnosed with Cancer and how it transforms to hope when Glivec and FOM enters our life. As almost all the members shared how the diagnosis posed both financial and emotional challenges in coping with the disease and the support of FOM gave them a chance to look forward to life and an opportunity to live good quality life with their loved ones. Needless to say this left a lot of us reminiscing our own times leaving us all touched and the room became emotionally charged.

After this emotional journey we had a panel discussion and the panelists were our very own FOM members like Shyam Bhaiya, Seema, Rakesh Sharma, Yogesh and Pramod. The rationale of the panel discussion was to provide an insight into coping with the disease, its treatment and how to live with CML. This was especially pertinent for the new members as initially one has lot of questions and a Doctor cannot answer all of them and this is where fellow patients can be helpful. The discussion was galvanized by an impromptu song performance by Yogesh ji which mesmerized everyone. The session was very interactive as all the members asked questions and there was a healthy discussion. Almost everyone exchanged their experiences with the medicine and helpful tips on how to handle side effects were also shared. The crux of the discussion was:

  1. Dosage must be taken regularly and under no circumstance should the medicine be missed.
  2. The onus of our health lies on us. Therefore, we must not miss any appointment with our Doctor. Follow the medical advice and disclose our condition to the Doctor.
  3. Do not indulge in self medication be it for side effects or any local infection.
  4. Last but not the least keep your spirits high; do not keep stress and live life to the fullest.

After the discussion it was time to have fun and in true FOM style we celebrated by cutting an enormous cake remembering Max and ate lots of goodies. In keeping with its character the meeting ended with loads of laughter, chatter and jokes. I can bet that no other group laughs as wholeheartedly as the FOM groups and we all maximize our lives.

Reported by Sukanya Lal