Patna Celebration of Life Meet

Date: 10th Oct 2009
Venue: Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna

The unquestioning acceptance in a four year old of his diagnosis , the  love and happiness he has in his eyes and sweet lips for a total stranger who met him for the first time the day of the Meeting in Patna ( yes , me) ! I maximised my life while he celebrates his in this absolutely stunning manner!! Thank you dear little Piyush for teaching me the meaning of acceptance and courage !!

I cannot find a more telling comment to describe the Patna Celebration  of Life weekend which kicked off the 2009 India Calendar of Celebration of Life Meets.
Saturday the 10th saw almost a 100 recipients and family members gather  at the Regional Cancer Centre, the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (in the hospital auditorium) for a day long meeting which included presentations on TMF and the Story of Max, Good Compliance practices and Colours of Hope, the power of expression through art workshop. Testimonials from survivors as well as a Q and A with our dear Dr Rajeev R Prasad (HOD Medical Oncology) followed and the day ended with the Art Therapy session which saw participation from even the
physicians of the Institute and their children too.
As always Prashant was at the heart of the meeting from the word GO and devoted the whole weekend to seeing that everything was as right as should be. From making the calls to Friends of Max in the region to organising all the logistics with the hospital it was Prashant all the way. Even a last minute plea at 10pm on Friday night to get the Tribute Wall forms printed was met with a totally calm and controlled demeanour.
On Saturday he was ably helped by young Manoj who came all the way from Delhi to attend the meet and the staff of Dr Prasad’s department. Ranjit, Ram Singh and Sister Neelam worked the whole day by my side.
It was an absolute delight to have some of our Bombay regulars attend the meet ; those FOM who live in the region but come to Tata Hospital or to Dr Advani for consultations .
A very special highlight was the birthday cake Sister and the team had organised for Dr Prasad whose birthday it was that very day. Proudly wearing his black FOM tee shirt Dr Prasad cut it with little Piyush .
All the children who were present, many of them whose parents worked at the RCC enjoyed the art therapy session and created masterpieces. And of course the adults were not to be left behind!!
Fond farewells at the end of the day were not too sad for we were all meeting the next day on the banks of the Ganges for a special ride on the steamer and plans were afoot for celebrating Max’s birthday aboard the steamer.
So on Sunday afternoon the group , accompanied by Dr Rajeev and his team from the hospital as well as his parents and little son met at the Ghat and we boarded the steamer with a lot of excitement . This was a new facility provided by the city authorities of Patna and for most of us including residents of Patna it was an exciting first trip on the boat. Prashant’s Mom ( read her inspiring story in Colours of Hope?)
accompanied by three of her grandsons and Dr Rajeev’s Mom helped the little ones cut Max’s Birthday Cake. And we spent the evening sharing and enjoying each others’ company under the clear, cool blue sky with the awesome Ganges flowing beside us.
Dr Rajeev’s mother, herself a Breast Cancer Survivor shared the story of her courageous 13 year battle and found an enthralled audience in the group ,all of us undeniably inspired and moved.
More than seventy Friends of Max celebrating life and its bounty on the Ganges watching the sun go down on a wonderful weekend !! And of course we had tiffin too, packed delicacies and soon little groups were formed settling down on the deck with laddoos and samosas. There were also a few scenes of happy couples lost in sweet silences gazing out on the vast expanse of the river Ganges flowing gently reflecting the setting sun’s gold on its rippling surface.
Thank you FOM Patna !!

Reported by Viji Venkatesh