Truth is stranger than fiction

K N Raghavan – Chennai, 2009
I am Mr. Raghavan.  In March 2002, I was 45 years of age, married and had two children; a daughter studying in the 9th standard and a son studying in the 4th standard. My wife was also working and I was employed in a public sector bank. I had served the bank for 22 years and had avoided a promotion since I had feared that I would be transferred out of Chennai city. Hence, I had opted to remain in clerical service. Moreover I had my parents staying with me- father aged 80 years and mother aged 66 years. As my children had grown up by 2002, I planned to opt for promotion and cleared the promotion examination as well as the interview. I was one among the 39 people who were selected in the interview out of 250 candidates.  The results were declared just before my father’s 80th birthday celebrations.  Immediately after the function I went for a medical test which was required for the promotion. When I went to collect the test results I was called in. I was puzzled. The lab technician stared at me. He took new blood samples. When I asked him the reason, he replied that the first sample was not accurate, hence the second one. After a day I went again to collect the report. This time a doctor attached to the lab called me inside and replied that my leucocytes were more in number and directed me to fix an appointment with a hematologist. I rushed to my personal physician. He again tested me. The results were the same. He directed me to another hematologist in a reputed private hospital. The bank could not wait for this inordinate delay and declared me unfit and the promotion was denied.  At this juncture I was worried more for my health than the promotion.
I didn’t know much about CML.

I thought that it was something to do with blood disorders. My wife knew this and was bold enough to encourage me to go in for treatment. The doctor suggested four alternatives to tackle CML. The first one was BMT (Bone Marrow Transplantation), followed by GLIVEC, thirdly by Interferon and lastly by Hydrea tablets. He suggested I do the BMT immediately but we wanted a second opinion. Then with some suggestions from our friends and relatives, I had a consultation with Dr Alok Srivastava of Christian Medical College Hospital, Vellore. He too confirmed the disease and put me on Interferon for 3 months. The results were not encouraging. For BMT, my brothers’ and sisters’ blood samples were tested and found to match mine. To go in for BMT at my age was not advisable. My case was referred to GIPAP. I contacted CMC. They gave me Viji amma’s phone number. The rest is history. My wife spoke to her and she was affectionate and considerate during every phone call. The certificates required were sent. Within a week GLIVEC arrived. What a comeback! From 2002 till now I am on Glivec 400 mg.  I don’t deny that there are some side effects but when you consider the disease these look minimal and tolerable.
I am able to recall some memorable incidents.

They happened between 2002 until now. Here I should mention one fact. First one’s family members should be bold enough to face the disease. They should not get disheartened and worried and make one feel sad. Right from the diagnosis, my wife’s attitude was positive and bold. She did not shed a single tear. She kept on encouraging me. Round the clock prayers were being said. Now I am a new man, full of confidence. During this period my daughter came out with flying colours in her plus 2 exams as well as in her BE degree. She is now pursuing her MBA in a reputed institute. Without Glivec this could not have been possible. During this period my relationship with Amma had strengthened. Now I am one of the core members of the group who will organize the Annual Meet 2010 at Chennai. I had never imagined that I would do so in 2009. I should wholeheartedly thank the Max Foundation, Novartis and all my GIPAP friends for the support and help extended to me. Last but not least, there are no words to describe our VIJI amma. We cannot see God directly but we can feel His blessings. And in my case, it is through Viji amma. Amma’s selfless service is incomparable with anyone. I pray to God to give amma as well as our GIPAP friends, a happy and healthy life so that they continue their service for the needy.
I thank you for this opportunity to express my feelings and look forward to seeing you ALL in the annual meet 2010 at CHENNAI.