The Max Foundation and FOM had arranged a patient support group meeting on 23rd May, 2015 in Goregaon, Mumbai.
The meeting began at around 10.30 am with our national anthem. Ashish Poddar, one of the FOM members, led the opening speaker sessions and shared with the group about bone marrow donation with unrelated patients and the objectives of the MDRI institute. This session was an eye opener as it dispelled many doubts that we commonly have about bone marrow transplantation being a painful process. For more details on bone marrow transplantation and bone marrow donation, please refer to The Marrow Donor Registry (India)
This knowledge was extremely important not only to pledge to be a stem cell donor, but to also honour that commitment, as fears about the process could lead to a patient losing out on the chance.
In the next session, Amma gave a presentation on the work that The Max Foundation does. This was followed by FOM Trustees’ address by Nirmesh Prakash.
After this, a presentation was made by Max team wherein they educated patients regarding important guidelines to be followed for supply collection and updating their contact details.
Our guest speaker, Dr. Vijay Bhat, addressed the very theme of the meeting, i.e. Caring for the caregiver. Drawing from his own experiences, when he underwent surgery for colon cancer in 2001, he shared his transformational journey with us. It was a life-altering session for so many of us who had always viewed cancer as an aggressor and ourselves as victims. We now saw how empowering it would be to view ourselves as adventurers and cancer as a challenger. Most importantly, we saw that our caregivers were really our ‘Sacha Sakha’, i.e,true companion. The caregivers in the audience clearly saw that they needed to first take care of themselves physically and emotionally.
After this thought-provoking session, we had a delicious lunch served lovingly by Ashish and his team.
We then headed for an afternoon session of fun and entertainment. There was a pleasant surprise waiting for us in the auditorium! On the stage, Sharon’s husband Donald, was busy setting up the stage for a music therapy session.
We divided ourselves into 5 groups. Each group selected a theme around which they would sing their songs. We had 20 minutes to rehearse our songs. The groups were practising classical songs, ghazals, devotional, Bollywood songs in full gusto!! Donald seamlessly picked up the tunes and provided a wonderful background music.
Rehearsal time over! The spirit of fun and enthusiasm made the music session so enjoyable.
Then we had a Chai for Cancer Adda wherein everyone donate wholeheartedly for the noble cause.
The meeting ended with a group photograph and everyone left the venue with new learnings.
By – Kashmira Iyer, FOM Volunteer, Mumbai