Friends of Max’s Patient Advocate of the Month for October 2021 is our City Chapter Leader from Patna – Nitesh Verma.
Nitesh was born and raised in Arrah, a city located near the confluence of the Ganga and Son rivers in Bihar. Early in his life, he faced numerous difficulties due to ill health but overcame those to complete his higher secondary education. He graduated with a major in Political Science in 2015.
Nitesh has a very positive outlook on his diagnosis with CML- “I was diagnosed in 2016 and it made my life a lot easier. Earlier, I used to frequently fall ill. My parents had to rush me to the emergency room in the middle of the night on several occasions. But now I just take one tablet for CML every day and lead a happy life. I have never been hospitalised since”.
In 2017, when he was collecting his medicine supply from the Apollo pharmacy in Patna, he saw a pamphlet for an upcoming Friends of Max meeting and decided to give it a go. And so, at Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Nitesh was introduced to the Friends of Max family for the first time.
When asked if he has any special memory with Friends of Max, he says, “I first met Amma on 17th March 2017, at the support group meeting in Patna. The way she greeted and interacted with all the patients there, comforted and encouraged them is a vision I will never forget. She had a divine presence. At that point in time, I felt as if CML is just a minor disease and I will overcome it very easily.”
Since then, there has been no looking back for Nitesh. He became a part of the FOM WhatsApp group and has attended all the FOM meetings conducted in Patna in subsequent years. He has maintained his streak by attending the Virtual Support Group Meetings organized by FOM and The Max Foundation during the COVID times.
Nitesh has been an active City Chapter Leader and has participated and helped organize all Friends of Max events in Patna since 2018. He also talks to his fellow CMLers and offers them guidance and moral support by sharing his own experiences. “Through Friends of Max, I have had the opportunity to connect with a lot of people from all over the country who are in a condition similar to my own. Over the years, I have stayed connected and made friends with several of them.”
Nitesh is also very active on social media and shares Friends of Max’s posts with his network. It has earned him a reputation as somewhat of an “expert” and people in and around Arrah with various illnesses have often reached out to him for motivation and non-medical advice. “I have suffered from so many different illnesses and visited so many doctors and hospitals in Patna and other cities that I am able to guide them to the right places. Till date, I have never received a single negative feedback”, says Nitesh with a hint of pride in his voice.
Today, Nitesh lives in his family home with his parents and three elder brothers. He enjoys working out at the gym and playing video games on his phone during his free time. He also loves interacting with his followers on social media and occasionally going out with his friends. He aims to secure a job that allows him to go out and work in the field, rather than sit at a desk all day.
When asked if he has any message to share with his fellow CMLers, Nitesh says, “People often relate the term “cancer” with “death”. But this is not true. CML is not a death sentence. I consider myself lucky to be a CML patient because I can take one pill every day and lead a good life. There are plenty of nastier diseases than this. The fact that we are not dependent on anyone is a big boon and we should count our blessings!” He also urges his fellow CMLers to avoid skipping their medication and go for regular check-ups.