World Cancer day is celebrated on 4th February and is aimed at the promotion of research for curing as well as preventing the disease, upgrading services to the patients, the sensiti​s​ation of common opinion and the mobili​sation of the global community against cancer. ‘We can, I can’ is the tagline for WCD 2016-2018.
We decided to have a small celebration in office on 3rd February itself. This year’s World Cancer Day initiative, We Can I Can “Share Your Story” which provides a platform to survivors to come forth with their experiences is what we at The Max Foundation were focusing on. In view of this, Viji thought of inviting Amit Vaidya, a survivor himself, who has recently launched his book ‘Holy Cancer’.
We all assembled in ‘Sun room’ which was spruced up for the event. Banners were put up in both the rooms at The Max Foundation. The event began at 3 pm. We were joined by FOM members Bindu, Suresh Pawar, Dr. Nikhil and also Mr. Prabhat Sinha from Novartis who never misses any opportunity to attend such meets in the Max/FOM office.
Sharon and Vijaya welcomed everyone with a brief talk on the celebration and what the tagline meant. At this juncture, Mr. Ranjit Shahani, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Novartis India, who was unsure of coming, sprang a surprise by walking in with Svetlana Pinto, Head of Corporate Communications, Novartis. Any event at Max in Mumbai office seems incomplete without Mr. Shahani’s gracious presence. When asked to address the meet, Mr. Shahani politely said that he was there to listen the young guest, Amit.
Viji gave a brief introduction of Amit whom she had met earlier through a senior journalist in Delhi who had interviewed him.
Amit guided us through his journey from stage 4 cancer to remission and his victory over big C. His talk left everyone present dewy eyed. He also read a few lines from his book. Mr. Shahani then shared how much he loves to come to our office. He said, ‘I feel so happy and positive, when I visit this office.”
Tea and snacks were served in the other room. After that, we all went to the sea side which has Haji Ali in the background with the banner and clicked photos and the customary selfie by Viji. Haji Ali is a Dargah (Holy Muslim Shrine) on an islet off the coast of Worli which is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Mumbai. It is our favourite spot where we go for our afternoon dose of sunlight and fresh air. It is the same point where back in 2014 we had released GIST Awareness paper boats in the sea and CML Day orange balloons in the sky.
The ‘Talking Hands’ social media campaign is an entertaining and easy way to get involved in World Cancer Day, to show your support to the fight against cancer and increase the global impact of the Day. To go with it, Viji came up with a novel idea of writing messages on hands with mehndi (Henna) instead of color pens for its lasting effects. Applying mehndi on auspicious occasions is a tradition in India.

Nikhat, an expert in this field, had come to office who did the needful with a smile on her face which added to the festive mood. The event ended with photographs of the mehndi adorned hands below the banner.
It is indeed very beneficial to have such a platform for cancer survivors to come together and share which can reduce fear around the challenges of returning to routine after cancer.
I would like to end this blog with Mahatma Gandhi’s quote-
“Strength does not come from physical capacity, it comes from an indomitable will.”

Report by Vidya Tahilramani- The Max Foundation, India