Pat Garcia – Gonzalez Executive Director TMF
Pat speaks at AIM Chennai 2010
It is my pleasure and my honor to be in Chennai for the fifth All India meeting of people living with CML and GIST.
Many of you know me, but for those who I haven’t had the chance to meet before, my name is Pat Garcia-Gonzalez and I am the Executive Director of The Max Foundation. I am passionate about improving the lives of people living with cancer.
I did not choose this profession, instead, this job chose me some years ago when Max, my stepson, was diagnosed w CML when he was 14. This was in 1989 when there was no Glivec. Max lived courageously with CML for 3 years and passed away in 1991 when he was 17.
I want to share something about this. I want you to know that during those 3 years, when Max was living with CML, we had some of the best moments of our life. We laughed a lot, we spent a lot of time together, we shared so much more than treatments and needles. I realize that the diagnosis had made us see life in a different way, and it made us understand what is really important, and help us not pay attention to things that are not important.
The All India meeting of people living with CML and GIST! This is a very important event.
Why is this important? It is important because it helps us realize that we are not alone, that there is a community around us, people that understand us, and with whom we feel like brothers and sisters.
We are so honored today, to have Dr Dan Vasella with us;
We are so proud to be able to show him what we did with the opportunity he gave us, and with the leadership he showed us.
We are so excited to be able to thank him in person. He extended a hand and gave us the base upon which we have built this community.
You see? like all of us, he too had a very unexpected event happen in his life: The discovery of a drug like Glivec; something that one can only dream of, not even imagine. And he had choices to make: he could follow the expected path, make things easy, or, he could follow the courageous path. Like all of you here, he chose courage. He stepped up.
He stepped up, and he reached out to us and asked us if we would come along with him on this road of courage. So we stepped up.
And we joined our distinguished physicians who are the pillars of this community and who embarked with us in this most amazing journey for the past 8 years.
And one by one, each and every one of you also had an unexpected event: first the shock of a cancer diagnosis, only to be followed by a great act of generosity and love. And you also stepped up and chose courage: The courage to fight, the courage to live, the courage to give back to your community, the courage to Maximize your life!
“Dr Vasella, your leadership has inspired us to create what you see today; we will forever have a place for you in our hearts and in this community.”
There are a lot things I love about today. One of them is that in this meeting, inside this auditorium, we are all the same and one. See, outside, we have different roles, different jobs too. Dr Vasella is the Chairman of a company, I am a cancer advocate; We are farmers and doctors and computer technicians, and nurses, and mothers and fathers. But in here, we leave our titles and our jobs outside…in here we are just people; people who have a deep love and bond for one another. Once we stepped in here, we became all the same.
This is what I love the most about coming to this meeting year after year. We leave all stress and worries and deadlines, even our diagnosis, outside of that door, and when we come in here and for a few hours, we can breathe the energy of those who are part of the maximize life movement. I take this energy home with me and I thank you for that.
Inspired by those who showed us courage, this community has changed the face of cancer. GIPAP has been a lot more than a drug donation program. GIPAP has been the catalyst of the Maximize Life movement, a movement of people around the world, who understand the power of being alive every day.
So my take home message is this:
Maximize your life by living with courage
Maximize your life! Live for the present as if it is all that matters.
Maximize your life by making good choices
Maximize your life by giving to others
Maximize your life by doing your best.
Maximize your life and you will never feel alone again.
Thank you! Chalo Chennai!