Celebrating World Cancer Day in Patna
It was early January when Dr Rajeev Prasad , our physician from the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences agreed to help us host a Friends of Max Regional Meet on 4th February , World Cancer Day, in Patna.
This was great but it was also very little notice; because a Friends of Max meeting requires a lot of spade work to be done, well in advance, to ensure a good response . So we were justified in being a little bit worried as to how we would manage to reach out to all the members in the region in time for them to plan to come to Patna and attend the meeting.
All barrels loaded we set about putting the machinery into place . Lists were generated from PATS so we had phone numbers of everyone from the region and calls made from the Max India office non stop literally till all the lists were covered . Posters were designed post haste and put up at the hospital and stockist in Patna as well as in the office . And then we began working in earnest with the Prashant , the FOM core group leader in Patna on the agenda and other related matters.
From the response to the phone calls made we were assured of a well attended meeting and so wanted to do justice and give the participants a day to remember. Cut to The Day itself and we were there by 8am . The cartons of material I had brought with me from Bombay , the FOM bags Neel had sent from Calcutta, the FAQ , Book of Stories and Note Pads we had couriered earlier on …On Friday evening Prashant and I had sat in the hospital corridors and packed all the kit bags so we only had to put up the banners and set up the registration table .
They came from everywhere, all corners of the state of Bihar and from cities in the neighbouring states like Calcutta , Allahabad and Delhi !!! Oh the joy of welcoming familiar , beloved friends from all over . The joy of meeting , in their home town , with their families the dear patients we meet in our office and being able to give them a day they would cherish . Each patient , every caregiver , wor e their badge of cancer with pride and courage and was happy to share and learn from each other . In the process, teaching all of us how to embrace life with all positive energies in the midst of so many adversities.
One of the most gratifying outcomes is always to see how FOM core members as mentors are teaching the others to take on the responsibilities they shoulder and lead new and younger friends to lead their own units .
And how can any meeting not provide the most eagerly awaited component of all – the interaction with the physicians ? Adding to the already superb presence of Dr Rajeev Ranjan and four of the oncologists from the host hospital we also had Dr Kumar Prabash of Tata Memorial Hospital , Bombay who joined us for the whole day. Not only is he the most knowledgeable and articulate of physicians but having him in Patna was special. Patna being his home town the audience welcomed him as their own and enjoyed having him in their midst to the hilt. Not only did he answer all the queries , he patiently sat and went through the medical files of all the patients who approached him.
Food packets were distributed to everyone while we hurriedly packed up the Registration counter , put away the banners and cleaned up the Hall. No the day was not over , we were in a hurry to get to the next segment of the day – the “treat” organised for everyone – the excursion to the famed Botanical Gardens and Zoo of Patna . The buses were waiting outside and soon everyone was happily clambering inside .It was wonderful to see the group enjoy the beautiful gardens and then get on to the mini train to hob nob with the resident tiger, rhinos , crocs , zebras , deer and we don’t know if the little ones or the parents who enjoyed this treat more . While the group wandered around the gardens with their bags on their shoulders , the train ran the rest of the day all around the gardens carrying our World Cancer Day banners . It was the Zoo Authorities’ pledge on World Cancer Day ; to promote our message amongst all their visitors over the weekend.
Report by Viji Venkatesh