Our Patient Advocate of the Month for May 2021 is Mr Shashikant Mahajan.
Shashikant hails from Hubli, Karnataka. Originally from Haryana, he grew up in this small town with his parents, three sisters and two brothers. After completing his schooling, he started earning his livelihood here as well.
In 2001, Shashikant was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. Upon seeing a newspaper article about Novartis and its drug, Glivec, Shashikant visited the Novartis office in Mumbai to enquire about it. “They told me that the programme hasn’t been launched in India, but they took my details and promised to call me when it did,” he says.
Two months later, he got a call from Novartis, providing him with an email address and informing him that he may be able to get the drug for free. This is how he became a part of the GIPAP Programme and was introduced to The Max Foundation and Friends of Max.
Since then, Shashikant has been actively participating in the Patient Support Group Meetings organized in Bengaluru by The Max Foundation and Friends of Max. He also has cherished memories from having attended a meeting in Mumbai. Further, Shashikant has regularly been donating towards Chai for Cancer, the fundraising initiative of Friends of Max, to support fellow CML patients in his own capacity.
But that is not the end of his social service. Whenever he can, he also helps the financially disadvantaged people by providing them with food and arranging for blood donation drives.
When asked if there is any special moment he would like to share, he says, “In 2002 when I had just been prescribed Glivec, Viji Amma helped me not only by sending the medicines but being there when I needed someone. Whenever I spoke to her, I felt like I was talking to my own sister. Whenever I felt afraid of my situation, I said to myself there is no need to worry because Amma is there to take care of me. And it’s not just her, but Beena Ma’am and Ashika Ma’am too! These ladies have supported me in my hardest times and words aren’t enough to thank them for it.”
Today, Shashikant lives with his 85-year old father, his wife and son. His daughter was married two years ago, and his son is in college, studying to be an engineer. Shashikant runs a general store in Hubli. He enjoys travelling and good music as his hobbies, which he says have had a major impact in his life.
When asked if he has any message to share with other CML patients and care-givers reading this, he says, “Glivec is a miracle drug that has helped me live a normal life for the last 20 years. This has been possible because I take my medicines regularly and on time. I urge all CML patients to never skip their medicine.”
As his last words, he also shares a simple yet profound message- “Life is all about challenges; you never know what awaits you in your life. Take it in a positive stride and face it with a smile.”