To Love and Cherish

Geeta Desai , Valsad  2009
Hello Friends of Max like myself.

First of all, I am thankful to Viji Venkatesh who gave me this golden opportunity to share my experience. I am Geeta Desai from South Gujarat. I have lived in the small town of Valsad since the last 34 years.  I have been a teacher in a school in the village near Valsad. I have a son who lives in Canada and a daughter who is now with her in-laws. Life had been going on smoothly. After working a long 34 years in my job, I planned to retire and settle with my son in Canada. That was in June 2002. Till then I had no idea that I was suffering from any kind of disease- but I was losing weight.  I thought it was good as I had a knee problem and due to the reduction in weight my knee started healing. However, I was worried about the weight loss. After consulting our family doctor, Dr. Mahesh Desai, I took a blood test. My test result showed that my WBC counts had increased to 1, 92,000. Initially I was not aware that I suffered from blood cancer. After a long time that is approximately one month later I got to know that I was indeed suffering from blood cancer. Initially my husband Arvind and I were depressed but thereafter we made up our minds to be strong and face the difficulty. We approached Dr Jyanti Patel, an onco-physician, for my treatment. Initially when I started taking chemotherapy injections, I suffered from side effects like fever, weakness etc. I took these injections for one and a half months but I didn’t receive much relief.

Then I was informed about Glivec.

On the advice of our relatives we took an appointment with Dr M.B. Agarwal in Mumbai. He studied my file accurately. Then he said that 27% of chemotherapy fails in patients from which I was one. Looking back, I would say that today I am what I am because of Dr M.B. Agarwal who encouraged me and helped me. I was informed about Glivec by him and also came to know about the NOVARTIS Company and MAX Foundation which provide such medicines free of cost. I gave them my details and within a short span of time I became the lucky person who started receiving the medicine.  For a short time I faced side effects such as- my nails became black, my body got swollen, and black spots were seen on my thighs. I also suffered from fever. At that critical period, Mr. Desai took care of me and my relatives gave me good support and strength. It eased my suffering and helped me face the difficulty. Luckily this medicine worked inside my body and I started recovering from this dreaded disease. It has been seven years since I started taking this medicine (I have 600mg of Glivec medicine) and I have been free of troubles since one year. I can travel anywhere and visit places without any kind of trouble and can also perform my household tasks freely. The credit goes to MAX Foundation who helped us generously.
MAX Foundation gave me a new life.    

Finally I would like to say that the person who invented this medicine gave life to many patients like me who suffer from this disease. He enabled patients to look on the bright side by helping them recover.  I am also thankful to Viji Venkatesh, Ayesha and Ganeshji. I always feel comfortable to approach them for medicines and I feel highly obliged with their kind and polite behavior. Today Ammaji (Viji Venkatesh) has become a part of my life and the amazing fact is that she cares about all the small matters of patients and listens to them with enthusiasm. I would also like to add that Mr. Desai and I are deeply thankful to Dr. M.B. Agrawal, Viji, Novartis, GIPAP, TMF and MAX Foundation.
Viji adds:
It has been our honour and pleasure to have known Mr. and Mrs. Desai all these years. We have always been so admiring of the love they share and the tender care and affection they lavish upon each other. There was never a time when Geeta ji ever came by her self to the office. Always escorted by Arvind Bhai and always with a smile on her sweet face Geeta ji showed us what true grit and courage in the face of such adversity was. They would make the trip by train from Valsad early in the morning and always try to go back home by the evening train and we would try to see that all the formalities were completed the same day so that they could go home without fail that very night after collecting her supply.

So about a couple of years ago when for two consecutive appointments Geeta ji came alone  we were surprised and a bit perturbed as she brushed off our enquiries with a smile saying Arvind ji was a little indisposed and so had decided not to trouble him and come by herself .

It was not long before she confided in me that her dear husband too had been diagnosed with cancer – a rare cancer in men; Breast Cancer! It was amazing to see the role reversal; now she was the care giver and he her patient. And they went about managing the whole struggle of hospitalization and treatment all over again.  

Soon he was back on his feet looking his strong and comforting self once again and now on many instances coming by him self to collect his wife’s supply saying she was resting.  

Our salutations to this wonderful, gracious couple who epitomize courage and love in the time of great stress.