My Mahabharata with CML.

Nikhil Batra – Kurukshetra , 2010

I would like to start by paying my tribute to Max Rivarola and by thanking Dr. Juerg Zimmermann, Dr .Brian Druker and their team- the Inventors of Glivec Medicine. Also Novartis, who made it possible for people to have a medicine they could not afford. And I want to thank Dr Pankaj Malhotra my doctor, The Max Foundation, FOM and my family. Without their efforts I could not have completed this testimonial. I am from Kurukshetra which is the land of the Mahabharata. It is a small, peaceful and beautiful city in the state of Haryana, India. I am a software engineer by profession, as of now residing and working in Pune. Kurukshetra is the site of the great battle of the Mahabharata fought between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. My battle against CML also began there.

The moment I understood it was Cancer, my head turned upside down.

I got married on 29th July 2007. Fifteen days after I came back from my honeymoon I felt feverish and went to see my family doctor. He suggested a small blood test. When the report came the doctor advised my father and brother to take me to PGI the big hospital in Chandigarh. At the time I was not aware that I had such a severe problem. At PGI Chandigarh we met Dr. Pankaj Malhotra. Before I could meet Dr Pankaj my family had already discussed the problem with him. They requested him not to disclose the problem to me for a few days. He told me that I needed to undergo a series of medical tests. I should mention here that he is gem of a person and a great doctor who always keeps the morale of his patients high. My medical results started coming within few days. Whenever I used to ask Dr Pankaj what exactly I was suffering from he used to say that since I was a Software Professional I should search the internet about my disease. After a few days when I searched CML on google, it showed results about cancer and leukaemia. It was the biggest jolt ever. I felt like everything was over. However, now I see that I was totally wrong at the time. Actually I was more worried about my wife than myself. I wondered why this had happened just few days after my marriage and I felt guilty as if I had committed a serious crime. It was almost as if I had done something terrible to my wife. How could I face her, how would I tell her? Every girl has a lot of dreams for her married life…it would be like shattering her dreams. How could I tell her that I was suffering from cancer? Though when she came to know about my disease, instead of reacting badly to it, she took it up as a challenge and supported me. She took utmost care of me which I really needed. Maybe I should not praise her as she is my spouse but hats off to her. My brother too gave me his full support. Whenever I used to get upset he used to push my morale high. Until now, I haven’t gone through a test or meeting with a doctor without my elder brother by my side.

I quickly submitted my papers to The Max Foundation.

Then next time I met Dr Pankaj he explained everything about the disease to my family and I. He assured us that it was not the kind of leukaemia which had no treatment and that luckily there were oral tablets available for it which had good results. He answered all our queries. However, the next question in our mind was the cost involved for the tablet and as it was too high, it was difficult to afford it for a long period of time. Dr. Pankaj then told us about the GIPAP Program and I submitted my papers to The Max Foundation as advised by him. Within a few days I got a call from Sharon who worked with TMF about the approval of my medicine. After some time when things started to become normal I spoke to Dr. Pankaj that I wanted to volunteer and contribute for the cause of Cancer patients in any way that I could. He told me to talk to the Friends of Max Group and then gave me Viji’s (Amma’s) contact number and email id. I started chatting with Amma. There are no words to decribe Amma. As the word says she is the mother to all of us. She has enormous energy. You have to meet her to understand what I mean.

I realized I was not the only one in the world who was suffering from this problem.

In January 09 I met all the FOM members in the Kolkata Meet. It was a lovely and memorable experience. I saw an unusual bond among all the FOM members. It gives one great moral support to see that there were so many people with the same problem. Yet all of them were happy and living their lives to the best of their abilities. Whenever I attend FOM meetings, patients generally ask what would happen if they didn’t take their medicine regularly or discontinue the medicine after some time. It irks me and I request  all the patients to take their medicines regularly. They ought to know that a cancer patient must be careful. Besides, Glivec is such a marvellous medicine. Now CML is just like diabetes and a single tablet taken daily helps one lead a normal life. Finally, I request everyone to eat healthy food, if possible exercise daily and take Glivec regularly. That’s the way to a happy life. Thank you very much!