Barun, Sangita and Saanvika Modal

Friends of Max Patient Advocates for June 2024 are Barun and Sangita Mondal, our City Chapter Leaders from Mumbai, Maharashtra, along with their daughter, Saanvika.  This is the story of a couple, who faced the challenges of CML, remained united and let their love overcome all obstacles.

Barun grew up in a large household in Jujersaha, a small village 40 kms from Kolkata. He completed his education up to Class 12 in his village school. His brother worked in Mumbai’s jewelry industry, and in 1998, Barun moved to Mumbai to join him, working as a diamond setter at Zaveri Bazaar for nine years.

Sangita, also from Kolkata and jewelry business background, was raised by her maternal grandmother while her family relocated to Mumbai. She continued her studies up to Class 11 in Kolkata. The families of Barun and Sangita were well acquainted.

In December 2006, Barun fell ill and after consulting a GP and undergoing blood tests, was referred to Dr Bichale at Nair Hospital, Mumbai. Diagnosed with CML at just 24 years of age, Barun decided to move back to Kolkata to be with his family. The next two years were difficult as Barun was also diagnosed with tuberculosis in his lungs. Despite multiple hospital visits, memory loss, hyper pneumonia and a range of medications from Imatinib to Hydroxin, Barun and Sangita’s love for each other and positive attitude helped them persevere. In 2008 they were married officially.

During this period in 2009, Barun, under the care of Dr Ashish Mukherjee, learned about The Max Foundation from a friend. They recall their first call from Amma. In 2011, they moved back to Mumbai and connected with The Max Foundation to continue receiving medication.

In 2012-14 with Barun’s CML under control, they decided to start a family. Consulting with Dr Usha Krishna, HOD of Gynaecology at Breach Candy, they were blessed with their daughter Saanvika in 2014. Sangita shares, “We feel blessed when our patients and their families seek our advice on having a baby. It brings us joy to see them become parents.”

The family attended the FOM All India Meeting in Hyderabad with six-month-old Saanvika. Today at nine years nine months, Saanvika is a cheerful participant in FOM’s Patient Support Group Meetings, actively engaging in Q&A sessions with physicians and workshops. She is also a beneficiary of FOM’s Project Shiksha. Barun, Sangita and Saanvika regularly attend FOM meetings in Kolkata and Mumbai. Recently they organised an informal Chai for Cancer Adda during a visit to Kolkata, raising awareness and funds for other patients.

As Barun approaches his 43rd birthday in July, he feels deeply grateful. Despite his CML diagnosis at 24, he received the life-saving drug Glivec, got married, and had a child. He considers this the golden period of his life.

“Believe in the medicine, take it regularly, stay happy, read the literature from FOM, it will keep you informed and positive. Attend as many meetings as possible and connect with other patients,” says Barun Mondal.

“Life is precious, live it happily, not in despair. We receive our medicine from The Max Foundation, so forget cancer and be happy! This will make our lives memorable,” add on Sangita & Saanvika Mondal.