Arun and Swati Bhargava

Our Patient Advocates for the month of April 2024 are Arun and Swati Bhargava, the husband wife duo and FOM City Chapter Leaders from Kanpur.

Meet Arun and Swati Bhargava, FOM City Chapter Leaders from the city of Kanpur. This is the story of their journey from a life-altering diagnosis to becoming dedicated FOM patient leaders.

It all began in 2004 when Swati was diagnosed with CML. They remember it being a difficult time. Glivec was so expensive and in spite of both of them working they were unable to afford the medicine. They learnt about The Max Foundation from a cousin of Arun’s in the US. The revelation that they could receive the life-saving drug for free was indeed a pivotal moment.

What started as a tool for support and guidance, The Max Foundation, Friends of Max and Amma soon became a part of their extended family. “Amma makes you feel so wanted and she is so warm in her demeanour that you almost feel like she is an elder sister or a mother to you.”

Today as FOM City Chapter leaders they are entrusted with the responsibility of organising patient-related activities for CML and GIST patients in their city. They are also the support point for patients and their families, offering guidance and assistance in various ways. They are not just advocates for patients, they are beacons of hope, inspiring them to face their challenges with courage and compassion.

Recently Arun and Swati have played a vital role in organising the Patient support Group Meeting held on April 7, 2024, at the esteemed Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow. Their efforts were instrumental in making the event a success, providing a platform for patients to share their experiences, learn from the physicians and find comfort in the community of fellow patients and caregivers. Prior to this they have also organised a Patient Support Group Meeting in 2008 and have hosted Chai for Cancer Addas.

Arun spent his early childhood in Kanpur and attended St. Aloysius, a missionary school, until class VII, where he excelled academically. He is the elder of two siblings. His father was a physician and his mother was a school teacher. He finished the latter part of his schooling thanks to a government scholarship and later went on to complete his BE (Hons.) Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the prestigious BITS, Pilani.

Swati on the other hand who had completed her graduation from Lady Irwin College in Delhi, after her diagnosis went on to do an Honours degree in English Literature and B.Ed from Kanpur University, all thanks to her grit and will power. She fondly recalls a wonderful childhood with loving parents as well as two elder brothers who simply adore her. Despite facing some challenges, what is most important to her is that they all grew up to be good human beings.

Today in their free time they continue to support other patients and their families. They strive to assist not only CML but other cancer patients as well. So many new patients turn to them for support and advice. Additionally, Arun and Swati volunteer in career counselling for students as well.

Arun runs a computer hardware business in which Swati is actively engaged in. They are blessed with two sons residing in the US and Canada respectively. Both are married, have working spouses and they have a grandson too!

Their advice for CML patients:

“No one in this world is free from problems. make the best out of what God has given to you and live life to the fullest on a daily basis.”