The 14th Regional patient-support group meeting for the year 2014, was organized by the Max Foundation and Friends of Max on December 21, 2014.
This was the first such meeting to be held in the Chhattisgarh region and over 60 CML and GIST survivors and their caregivers had gathered at the venue eager to share and learn.
On the cool crisp winter morning of 21st of December, participants from different parts of the state assembled in the auditorium at the Indira Gandhi Krishi Vidyalay (Agriculture College) at Raipur. They registered their names and enjoyed a hot cup of tea, and were all ready to attend the meet with a fresh mind.
It was wonderful to see how patients and their families met with one another, many of them for the first time and to see the happiness and pride in Avtar Singh ji’s face. Avtar Singh Plaha is one of our oldest FOM members from this region and it is his persistence and hard work that saw this meeting come to be.
The chief guests for the day were Dr. Vikas Kumar Goyal, Dr. Vivek Choudhary, Dr. Rajeev Jain and Dr. Ramole. The guests along with Max and FOM representatives lit the inaugural lamp and gave the meet an auspicious start. This was followed by a welcome address by Dr. Vikas Goyal.
Amma then spoke about the Max Foundation, its major functions as well as explained to everyone about the concept of Friends of Max, the patient support group arm of the Max Foundation. After this quiet and attentive session was the question and answer session with the chief guests, which provided a platform for CML and GIST patients to interact with medical experts and get all their queries answered and cleared. No doubt they utilized this chance to the fullest. This was followed by a Vote of Thanks by Vijaya of Max India and everyone proceeded for lunch. Sitting beneath the sky on the lawns of the agriculture college, everyone savored a sumptuous meal.
The next session was the Drama Therapy Workshop for Compliance which aimed to enhance the communication skills of the CML and GIST survivors, and provide them with means to improve their adherence levels. This therapeutic and interactive Drama Therapy workshop encouraged participants to come together and use their inherent talent as an innovative tool towards self-expression, to tell their stories, set goals, resolve issues and process the big change in their lives. In an informal environment and with a given set of creative tools, the participants were encouraged to act out scenarios that serve as awareness and educational capsules.
After an introductory presentation to the group, teams were formed. Team leaders or Directors were chosen, scenarios distributed, casting done and roles assigned. The teams were provided 30 minutes to create their screenplay and draw their scripts. A few impromptu rehearsals and props chosen from available resources and the skits were ready to be performed.
“Under the guise of play and pretend, we can – for once – act in new ways. The bit of distance from real life afforded by drama enables us to gain perspective on our real-life roles and patterns and actions, and to experiment actively with alternatives.”
Time and again a storehouse of talent has emerged in these sessions and along with that, barriers of rank and file came down and vital messages of awareness, compliance and compassionate care were conveyed by peers amidst peers. This exercise in confidence building brought hidden skills and talents to the fore. There cannot be a better ice breaker and lasting relationships are forged among all the members of the group.
Kalyani Bhortake, Executive Programme Coordinator, Friends of Max.