Friends of Max’s Patient Advocate of the Month for August 2022 is Samantha Reddy, our City Chapter Leader from Hyderabad.
Samantha grew up in Hyderabad. Her parents provided her with a comfortable childhood. After completing her early education at a convent school, Samantha obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce.
In 1995, Samantha was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. At the time, there was no definite treatment available for CML and she underwent chemotherapy with interferon. She was also a part of the clinical trials for Glivec at Stanford, USA.
In the year 2005, she had a relapse. It was then that Dr Raghunadharao Digumarti, who is also a member of FOM’s Medical Advisory Board, suggested that she get in touch with The Max Foundation. This was a huge help to Samantha. She recalls, “Importing the medicine from the US was prohibitively expensive in those days. I reached out to The Max Foundation and was accepted into their patient assistance programme in 2006”.
Before her association with The Max Foundation, Samantha says that she had no idea about the existence of a support group for CML patients in India. “I was the oldest member of the Hyderabad Chapter – not in terms of age, but by the number of years on treatment. It gives you a lot of confidence and energy to see and talk to patients of different age groups and listen to their experiences.”
Soon, Samantha became a part of FOM’s Core Group Leaders. She was always there to help organize support group meetings in Hyderabad and has also attended FOM’s Leadership Summits in Pune.
Besides Friends of Max, Samantha is also actively involved in social work through St. Jude India Childcare Centre – which in her own words, “provides a home away from home for paediatric cancer patients from underprivileged backgrounds.”
On 19th July, Sudha Samineni, The Max Foundation’s Programme Officer called Samantha to inform her that she had been nominated as FOM’s Patient Advocate of the Month for August. It was an emotional moment for her as the day marked 27 years since she was diagnosed with CML.
“I lost the prime of my life to this disease from 25 to 32 until I got into pathogenic remission”, says Samantha as she tells us how being a cancer survivor has changed her life for the better. She wanted to finish her MBA from the best B-School in the world. At the age of 40, she finally fulfilled her dream by obtaining a Master’s degree in “Strategy and Leadership” from London Business School. Says Samantha, “When you face your mortality, it makes you tick your checklist faster than you would have otherwise done. As a cancer patient, you tend to cherish every moment and are actively looking to make the best memories.”
Today, Samantha has been on Treatment-Free Remission for nine months. She loves travelling and runs her own enterprise. She attributes her entrepreneurial skills to being a cancer survivor. “There is a lot of correlation between the skills needed for fighting cancer and setting up an enterprise – positive attitude, resilience, perseverance. It has prepared me for any challenge that life may throw at me”.
Samantha also writes a blog and makes it a point to journal her thoughts. Her message to her fellow CMLers is to do the same. “As a patient who has been on treatment for 27 years, I find it extremely cathartic and therapeutic to journal my thoughts. As a cancer patient, you tend to overthink many things. You heal 90% with your mind and 10% is the drug. That is how powerful our mind is.”