Max Birthday celebrations – Mumbai


Celebrating Max’s Birthday – with Colours Of Hope
Date: 26th October 2008
Time:  10:30am thru 5pm
Venue:  S P Jain Auditorium at Bombay Hospital – Mumbai

Morning activities
The Friends of Max Mumbai team celebrated Max’s birthday (19th October, 1973) in great style .  The celebration was organized at the S P Jain Auditorium at Bombay Hospital’s Hall on 26th October ‘08. Our grateful thanks to Dr M B Agarwal for once again facilitating access to the venue and the wonderful hospitality of Bombay Hospital.

Amongst the Friends of Max were the special guests of the day, the children from the PAN JBCN Academy.  This is a school for children with special needs and they were accompanied by their teacher and some of their mothers. From the moment the children entered , their utter charm and energy levels and happy faces and excited conversations told us it was going to be a special day. We were all energized by their presence.

From the FOM group, around 150 members participated which included GIPAP members and their relatives and caregivers.  People started trickling in from 10:30am onwards.

The diligent staff of The Max Foundation India team namely, Viji -Amma & Appa, Ayeshah, Sharon, Vidya, Philip and Ashok & Ashok were at the venue as early as 9:30am to prepare for the name tags which were again colour coded (which by  now we know is always for an interesting reason.)

All the Friends of Max who registered themselves at the front desk were given four different coloured name tags.  The idea was to have four groups each who would undertake a group activity.

As the FOM arrived, they picked up their name tags desk, mingled with one another having tea, coffee and breakfast.  During this time, a slide show kept all the early arrivals glued to their seats watching the screen.  With music in the backdrop, the slide show consisted of scenes from FOM meetings taken over the years.  One of these was prepared by Pat and Craig for the Bangalore meeting and another by Param , also for the same meeting . We also enjoyed another video gift from Pat and Craig ; this time it had pictures of Max’s birthday celebrations from different parts of the world.

The Day begins
By 11am, it was a full-house.  Almost 120 FOM had arrived.  The special birthday celebration guests were seated in front and one could see their excitement for what was in store ahead.

Amma had spent the last half hour giving them an introduction to TMF ,FOM and the day’s agenda.

The day began with the national anthem and Ayeshah giving a brief introduction to all the members while Pramod diligently handled the power point presentation/slide show through out the day as required.

This was followed up by Amma taking over the event with her presentation for the day. The theme she had chosen was the Power of Art and how Art helped in expression of experiences.

She took us through a series of slides detailing how since the time of Cave Men till the modern day , artists and philosophers, historians and novelists had used the medium of art to convey their thoughts and philosophies. Speech was not the only mode of expression . It was very nice to see the children in the audience demonstrate the various methods of expression that came up on the screen.

When it came to the actual act of portraying experiences through art the discussions turned to how we use colour and the theme became colours and how one associates colours with feelings.  It was a unique theme indeed.

Amma discussed with all the children as to which colour was associated with which feelings and the kids participated in almost full strength.  Some children participated by demonstrating their feelings by miming in front of all the guests

If White meant Peace to one , then it also meant Happiness to another ; if Red meant Danger to one , someone said it meant Love to them . Blue was a sense of Calm as well as Sorrow ; Green was Action a well as Envy ; while Black was sorrow ; Yellow was Happiness and Laughter but also Fear for some.

The whole audience got involved in matching colours to their most intensely felt feelings and soon Amma was asking us to mix two or more feelings and see if like mixing colours to create a new colour , feelings too could produce other feelings.

If Blue and Red created Purple , we began to wonder what Anger and Peace could create or what Love and Courage could result in . It was thought provoking and interesting to see how the same colours could evoke different feelings in each of us !!

Then Amma demonstrated how FOM and TMF had been using the power of art to help share themes and individual experiences like the themes for different All India Meetings and the annual holiday card of the Foundation or the calendars. She also shared with us five stories of survivors told through their Art as well as their words. It was an inspiring session as we all had a chance to look at lives lived and experienced like ours , but in distant countries.

The main event
By noon, all the invitees were segregated into four groups based on their respective colour coded name tags. Leaders were chosen who would help guide the teams to understand the task for the next segment of the programme. While the presentation was going on , volunteers had efficiently set the stage for the action . Art paper and supplies ; colour pencils, crayons, sketch pens and charcoal pens , erasers and sharpeners and foot rulers were all distributed and placed on four to six drawing spaces . Everybody was invited to participate by drawing and colouring what ever they desired on a sheet of paper, the theme being Embracing Life. Everyone found their own little corner or surface and began the enjoyable task of putting pencil to paper and creating their mind pictures. Almost an hour and a half later, there were some amazing pictures worthy of being called great art work. Flowers and trees, the sun and the sea, birds and the clouds in the sky – it all came pouring out. There was a lot of consultaion and sharing of ideas ; if in corner four ladies were together creating a masterpiece , in another two heads were bent in close consultation and in yet another a solitary artist concentrated all alone . The little ones were happily creating their own little designs while one sedate friend decided he would only write poetry !! The most common motif seemed to be the rising sun , emerging out of the dark mountains , to throw its brilliant light on a peaceful landscape that had a river , a little house under the shade of a tree and some happy birds and flowers greeting the day. Then there were some pictures that had some deep insight or meaning.

(Later in the day each artist was given a chance to share his or her insights with the whole group)

The real main event
The “real”, main event in any birthday celebrations is the cake.  This year in memory of Max’s birthday and his zest for life the cake was decorated with a palette with various colours and a paint brush in keeping with the party theme.  The cake was almost completely surrounded by the children with their party hats.  There was nothing but joy as the children and adults together sang the Happy Birthday song in English as well as the Hindi version.

The cake cutting was followed up by lunch – the sumptuous lunch provided by Bombay Hospital.

Post lunch birthday celebrations were followed by a Panel Discussion which comprised of FOM Core Group Manoj, Jaya, Charita, myself & Raj.  The objective of the session was to share patients’ experiences along with knowledge of compliance with follow up and dose regimen. Manoj and Jaya and myself spoke on our journey through CML and on the other hand, Charita and Raj shared the experiences as care-giver to CML patients.

Amma kicked off the discussions with a question directed at each member of the panel so that we could take over from there. After we shared our insights there were questions from the floor that we had to field . The highlight of the discussion was as follows:-

  1. Patients should take their medication regularly.  One sure shot way for this is to mark the dates on the back of the medicine strips itself or on the calendar.  This way one can ensure that their medication was indeed taken.
  2. Dealing with side effects.  Each one’s body reacts to medication differently.  The side effects are primarily at its peak for new patients when they start their medication and over a period of time things ease out.
  3. Staying positive.  There was 100% consensus about dealing with CML in a positive way by thinking positive about the outlook of life by finding a reason or a goal.

Care givers discussion included the following:-

  1. Support for CML patients by reminding them to take their medication regularly.
  2. Moral and emotional support to the patients so as to help them stay positive.

Thereafter, all the art work was put on display for all to see.  The artists were called up so that they could express their feelings and what the art was all about.

End of the day
The programme was precisely organized and executed by the Max India team and all the volunteers.  The celebrations had served its objectives:

  1. Celebrating Max’s birthday.
  2. Expression of feelings with the help of colours
  3. Expanding this feelings and thoughts by putting it down on paper by way of drawings/art work
  4. The main event – Cake cutting with full dhamaal by children singing and enjoying their day.
  5. Panel discussion with a central message to patients to take their medication regularly as prescribed by their own respective doctors.
  6. Providing Friends of Max members a platform where by they can ask questions to fellow experienced patients who have gone through the same thing in life.
  7. Most important, they carried back with them, renewed hope and a sense of security from the experiences of the struggles of CML veterans who today lead a near normal life, with the access to Glivec.

The day concluded by all the party people staying back over tea and snacks.  They mingled shared stories & experiences.  While some made new friends, the others strengthened the existing bonds they held with their friends.

Reported by Kerul Patel