Virtual Support Group Meeting for GIST Awareness Day – Report by Vasamvada Shukla

The pandemic could not dampen the spirit of Friends of Max and The Max Foundation team, the patients and the doctors. GIST Awareness Day 2021, which falls on 13th July, was enthusiastically observed via an online meeting on 10th July, and was attended by over 85 patients. We had the opportunity to hear from the best in the field – Sudha Samineni of The Max Foundation, Dr. D Raghunadharao, Dr Arun Shahi (Nepal), Dr Bhawna Sirohi, Dr Gyan K. Kayastha (Nepal), Dr Krishna Sagar (Nepal), and Dr. Mohandas K. Mallath. The Question-Answer session was moderated by our very own live wire Viji Venkatesh.

The gathering was very motivating and uplifting for all the patients – we learnt about how to cope and deal with GIST, how to build a positive state of mind, how to help and support the larger community. The session on expressing gratitude by Beena Narayanan highlighted how there is “always” something to be thankful for and how this small emotion can so powerfully and magically shift one’s perspective and build a positive state of mind.

The opportunity to connect with the Patient Support Groups of Nepal and Sri Lanka was another key highlight of this year’s meeting. We heard about all the wonderful work being done in these countries. I felt proud to be part of such a vibrant and global support group.

The Virtual Art Therapy Workshop was a unique addition to this year’s program and was a visual delight! Patients and their care givers brought alive emotions attributed to the GIST acronym – Gratitude, Inspiration, Strength and Togetherness – through a mosaic of artworks. The splash of colour, abstract expressions of creativity, the innumerable dimensions of these emotions brought alive through art, created a world of wonder. Many of these artworks are still available to be seen on this link.

Certainly worth a look!

Overall, the meeting, as always, was a true reflection and re-iteration of all we stand for at Friends of Max and The Max Foundation – solidarity, strength and togetherness. Always supporting and inspiring us. We all look forward to the next opportunity to meet and connect.