Nagendran N, Karthikeyan K and Sajeevan P

Our Patient Advocates for the month of December 2023 are the active, enthusiastic and dependable City Chapter Leaders from South India-
Nagendran (now also a FOM Trustee), Karthikeyan and Sajeevan.

With their proactive thinking, tremendous creativity and zest for teamwork, these City Chapter Leaders have elevated FOM operations to a new level of success. Yes, it is the Chai for Cancer Road Show 2023 (18-26 Oct), which traversed a distance of 1500 kms in nine days, across three states, and eight cities, all along raising awareness for patients living with CML and GIST and raising funds for their many unmet needs. With Amma (Viji Venkatesh) by their side, the Road Show was a grand success, having held nine Addas and raising a total donation of Rupees Ten Lakhs.

Our Super Heroes from South

This campaign emphasizes that everyone can be a hero in spite of the very diverse backgrounds that we come from. While Karthikeyan due to financial constraints could not complete his education, Sajeevan born in Elathur, in a small village in Calicut, Kerala, and the son of an ex-serviceman managed to complete his tenth standard. Nagendran, on the other hand, finished his BSc physics and went on to do BTech instrumentation from the famous Anna University (of lovable past president Dr Abdul Kalam). While both Karthikeyan and Sajeevan felt the urgent need to contribute financially to their families and needed to move out of their homes early to different cities to do various jobs to earn that extra money, Nagendran, like most, was driven by his hunger for education and livelihood. No matter how different their circumstances all were getting on with their lives, picking up necessary skills.

But life has plans of its own and brings people together.

Nagendran’s brother, Sasikumar, was diagnosed with CML and as his primary caregiver, Nagendran was looking for ways to access Glivec. He came to know of The Max Foundation’s program and got in touch with Amma in 2002 and Friends of Max.

Karthikeyan on the other hand, was diagnosed with CML in 2009, one day after celebrating his daughter’s fifth birthday on 22 September. He got in touch with The Max Foundation and Friends of Max, but did not tell his family about his unexpected diagnosis till at a Patient Support Group Meeting held at Madurai in 2013.

Sajeevan too was diagnosed with CML in 2005 October and was receiving treatment under Dr. Narayanankutty Warrier, who introduced him to The Max Foundation and Friends of Max.

Today FOM is so proud of this trio who are actively engaged in regional activities and hold together and lead their team of FOM volunteers from the front. With an urge to do more and give back to society, Karthikeyan travelled all the way from Udumalaipettai in June 2023 spoke to Amma and conceptualised the idea of a Chai for Cancer Road Show, discussing the route and pitstops for the Addas. He has not only been the mastermind but also the ace driver of the very successful Chai for Cancer Road Show 2023 with Amma as his navigator.

Nagendra is the epitome of a Patient Advocate. His relentless push to his brother’s physician at Adyar Cancer Institute, Chennai, to endorse the Max Foundation Glivec Access Program to CML patients laid the road to other needy patients in Tamil Nadu looking for similar treatment access. The Indian CML fraternity has much to thank him for.

Sajeevan’s infectious enthusiasm as a City Chapter Leader is the driving force behind the vibrant FOM Kerala chapter. From the first meeting that he helped to organise to the most recent Chai for Cancer Road Show Adda hosted by the FOM Kerala City Chapter Leaders in Calicut, his contribution has always been immense. He feels it an honour to work with the other FOM volunteers and to collectively bring all FOM events to fruition; in other words, a grand success.

While Karthikeyan got married, both Nagendran and Sajeevan choose to remain single and live happily with their families; Nagendran with his brother and family and Sajeevan continues to live with his mother and has a brother who is married and settled in Calicut.

All three are actively engaged in other social activities; Karthikeyan is a member of International Rotary and Roundtable, Nagendran has been supporting activities for the students of his college and neighbourhood and for friends and family circle for over the last two decades. Sajeevan is closely working with Pratheeksha Organization, a patient support group organization founded by Dr. Narayanankutty Warrier. Additionally, he also holds the position of Vice President for his Residential Association, which conducts various awareness programs.

Commonly they feel it’s a cause larger than their own lives.

Their advice to CML patients is:

Karthikeyan: “Everyone needs to give back to society as per our own capacity. Do your bit!”

Nagendran: “Shed the fears and spread courage and happiness. You’re a part of a great cause and live each moment happily with a gratitude, help to spread awareness about The Friends of Max support to people around us.”

Sajeevan:We all are blessed to be availing medications with the help of The Max Foundation. So, we should try our best to get involved in the support group meetings organised in our regions. These meetings help us to share and learn.”