Thiruvananthapuram Meeting Report by Punnya MK

At the Patient Support Group Meeting organized by The Max Foundation for Friends of Max, on Saturday, 2 March 2024, for CML and GIST patients in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, Punnya, local City Chapter Leader, was interviewed and asked to share her views:

  1. How do these gatherings impact individuals, and what emotions surface when connecting with the FOM Community?

There were two respected oncology specialists present in the meeting. I found many patients and caregivers engaging with them directly to clarify their doubts. It was a great opportunity for patients and their families to get first hand opinion from these specialists. I could actually see how comfortable each and every one was, in a community of their own , spending time with each other.

2. Now it has been 20 years since we have been doing patient support group meetings, how do you think the meetings have evolved, what are the new changes in the discussions and workshops that you are seeing?

It was my first time attending a proper FOM meeting even though I’ve attended some Chai for Cancer and other small programs.  It was a great experience.  We get to meet so many inspiring people from Kerala and learn from their cancer journey experiences. All the sessions in the meeting were informative and useful. There was a doubt clearing section in which patients asked their doubts and specialists gave them solutions. There was another session where a leading dietician shared an outlook on how to have a proper diet and also shared diet suggestions for different health conditions. This session too was followed by a question-and-answer session. Last but not the least the Volunteer Training session was both very interactive and interesting.

3. What would you like to see in future meetings?

To be honest, the meeting was beautifully curated. Each session was really well thought out, informative and well planned. So grateful to Shalini Mam and Beena Mam for a great job done. It was also very heartwarming to see the high involvement from patients and their caregivers. In the future I would like to see more patients joining in our meetings.

4. In your experience with Support Group meetings, can you share a specific instance where you witnessed a notable impact or positive outcome for a patient?

As I mentioned overall the meeting was excellent, however what stood out for me in this meeting was the moment when Viji mam asked the patients and their families as to who all were ready to become FOM volunteers. When she invited them to step forward and come on stage, we saw patients from old to young came up on to the stage. In my opinion this was the defining moment of the meeting and also helped to explain the impact of such meetings. It was truly inspiring and motivating.  In a nutshell I think we achieved the aim of the meeting in that moment, I am so glad that I could witness it.