Smiles on the face of a Glivec patient

Parameshwaran – Bangalore, October 2006

I have written this short story for the Friends of Max with a smile on my face.

Like every year, the annual medical examination was conducted in the place I work and all of us went through the formality of undergoing various tests. But in February 2004, when I went about the medical examination as usual, during the midst of a critical presentation with the Global team in my company, I got a call in the afternoon (Feb 27th) at around 12.30 pm from my company doctor, who requested me to repeat my blood test and asked me to take a further test at the Bangalore Institute of Oncology. The time was around 6 pm in the evening and I had still not gone home, but I called my wife and conveyed this to her. I also told her to meet our family doctor with the report just to get a second opinion. I continued with the Global team for the evening as I had to take them for dinner but a question kept repeating inside me …what next???? I just put on a happy face when I was amongst the team members and continued with tests for the next four days.

By March 3rd, the scud was dropped on me at evening time by the doctor who confirmed that I had Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia.

It was a Saturday, and on getting this news, my wife and I drove back home without uttering a single word. On entering home our two little angels were in their most playful of moods and asked us too many questions without knowing the situation we were in. In the hall, my father was sitting anxiously to hear from us and eventually I broke the news. Fortunately, my father and I were unmoved with this diagnosis but by nightfall my wife slipped into depression. However, on Sunday, she arose with a lovely smile and woke me up. The first words she said were, “Param, let's fight it together and never give up. I am with you throughout and we are going to fight this disease tooth and nail.” That set the platform from where there was no looking back for her and she continued to wear that smile. However, in the next 10 months we tried Homeopathy as there was a strong belief both in me and my family about successfully treating CML through it. But by the end of Dec 2004, the counts that had been around 1,50,000, at the time of diagnosis went up to almost 2,75,000.In spite of this count, due to the positive attitude of my family members and myself, I never ever felt I was a patient. In fact in November 04, we even went on a forest trek and had a gala time. The Year 2005 started with a bang wherein all well-wishers told me to discontinue Homeopathy and start on Allopathy. So I was put on Hydrea for about 15 days.

The journey to Glivec…
It began with me talking to my Company for support which they said was impossible considering the cost and that it was a long term therapy. But on February 7th 2005, at around 6 pm, one of my colleagues told me about the donation programme by Novartis called GIPAP and put me in touch with the Max Foundation. Viji, (now known to all of us as Amma) in her fantastic style assured me of enrolment in the programme for free Glivec. I went through all the formalities at my hospital here and February 24th was marked as the D Day. My wife was in Trivandrum for a very important function in a temple (called Attukal Pongala) and in the morning while I was driving to office, Amma called me to inform me about my approval and I started off with Glivec on the same night. That is when I commenced on my journey with Friends of Max, which has restored our smiles, both on the personal front and on the official front. Within one month, I got the haematological response followed by the cytogenic response tested in July 04 and then February 05.During the course of taking Glivec, my body gained weight and also made me look lovely. I even made women jealous because during a visit to my corporate office, a colleague of mine who had not seen me for a long time, upon suddenly meeting me, told me that she envied my fair skin! All thanks to Glivec. I gained further
strength during the course of taking Glivec. And that along with my strong positive attitude helped me move on.

My new motto is that setbacks do come to all at one point of time or the other but we need to convert these setbacks into stepping stones.

Through the Friends of Max I decided to do more for society by giving something back to it. I got passionately involved in some social activities. I also became a bit more philosophical in the way I looked at people now and understood that whatever we have within us is stored in us to give back to society and that such an illness only becomes a reason or an opportunity to realize the value and true meaning of life so that we are filled with a renewed passion to live it to its fullest extent. At any given point of time, I have always thanked God for making me realize the importance of life and showing us how we can better ourselves. As  for me, I learnt through the diagnosis of CML and at no point have I regretted an illness that came to my body at this young age of 37 yrs when I was at the peak of my career. In spite of the setback, I got better jobs and this definitely proves that if one has the will power nothing can stop one from recovery. However, for this to be successful we need the tools to fight the disease such as Glivec and that combined with our internal will power can take us through the long journey called life. I would like to conclude by saying that this is not the end, and we from Friends of Max will definitely become an Icon in society by living life to its fullest potential and spreading the message that nothing is impossible.

Each and every one of you who reads this, please continue to smile, for this is not the end and there are many more to come…