Our Friends of Max Patient Advocate of the Month for the month of May 2023 is Deepak Mahadevan, our City Chapter Leader from Bengaluru.
My Pillar of Strength
Moving from one city to another throughout my formative years is one of my fondest childhood memories. Being a government employee meant that my father would regularly be transferred, thus it was a period of pleasure and excitement as we enjoyed living in and visiting several towns in Tamil Nadu.
Being fond of computer programming, I completed the GNIIT programme from NIIT. I continued on to get a Business Administration degree, an MSc in IT (through distant learning), and several International Certifications in Project Management and Service Management.
It was while working for AkzoNobel in 2007, that in a routine company health check-up, my WBC count was found to be extremely high. I was told to undergo additional tests and consult an oncologist, Dr. Amit Routhan. The findings of the BCR-ABL and Cyto Genitic tests suggested a diagnosis of early-stage CML.
The doctor suggested Interferon, the only affordable drug. In addition, I was urged to enrol in the GIPAP trial programme, where Novartis was dispensing a miraculous drug. My diagnosis shattered me. My wife, Vanitha, jumped into action. After speaking with Novartis, she was instructed to get in touch with Viji (Amma) from The Max Foundation. Amma immediately replied and put us in touch with Friends of Max, the CML patients’ support network. I was started on Glivec three days later and enrolled in The Max Foundation’s Assistance program.
Amma not only gave us access to this life-changing drug, but she also helped us deal with our emotional issues by inviting us to monthly patient meetings (hosted by Friends of Max) where she was always there to offer us support and courage, both of which I was lacking at the time.
As a City Chapter Leader today, I have taken part in and assisted Friends of Max in organising numerous events in Bangalore (2008), Chennai (2010), and Mangalore (2018). Bangalore has also seen a number of Chai for Cancer Addas. I also recall helping Amma and Ashika plan activities for the Kidwai hospital’s paediatrics wing. We gave out picture books to the children, took pictures of the incident and had an interaction with them to share their experience.
All through my journey, my wife Vanitha has always been by my side. She is a Vice Principal at St. Mary’s School in Bangalore and enjoys connecting with students and influencing their future thinking. Our 18 years old son is beginning his first year of graduate school. He is a world champion in taekwondo as well. He won a bronze medal while representing India in the 2017 Junior World Cup in Belarus.
Without doubt, Vanitha has been my pillar of support. The first few weeks following a diagnosis can be perplexing and overwhelming. She gave me the confidence to face it as I prayed to God for fortitude and guidance.
My advice to CML patients is:
“CML can be overcome and you can enjoy a normal life if you just follow the doctor’s instructions. Don’t forget to attend as many of the gatherings and events that Amma, The Max Foundation, and Friends of Max host for patients. Make your friends and family your pillars of strength to maintain a positive outlook. When you’re lost, talk to them, share with them, and let them show you the way.”