Friends of Max meet in the Oxford of the East – Pune

Last weekend a part of Max India drove down to Pune .

Pune is a very scenic three hour drive by road from Mumbai and is known for its educational facilities , having more than a hundred learning institutes and nine universities. (Hence the Oxford of the East tag) It is almost 600 metres above sea level on the Deccan Plateau and because of its dry and cool climes popular as the monsoon capital of the Bombay Presidency when the British used it as their Army Cantonment.
We have two very senior oncologists who refer patients into GIPAP from here and now with NOA launched , at least four more new physicians will be sending us their patients too. Over 300 patients already exist from this region and we have held three previous meetings here so far. Each time we have more patients joining in, and most of them newer members so the learning and sharing increases year by year.
Till the previous meeting which was held in July last year there was a lot of leading and mentoring done by the Mumbai core group who would attend these meetings with us but this year it was evident that the Pune core group had come into their own . It was wonderful to see how they were part of the planning and execution of the workshop and the Mumbai Gurus ( teachers) were proud to see them coming into their own.
The meeting was a whole day affair and conducted at the auditorium of a well established treatment centre called Ruby Hall Clinic. Participants ( 135 patients and family members) came from the city as well as neighbouring regions and after registration and some mingling over breakfast the session began.
As always we began with the National Anthem and the introduction to TMF and NOA/GIPAP with a presentation full of visual references . The first half of the session was taken up by a panel discussion. The Panel consisted of FOM volunteers who shared their testimonials and then replied to questions from the audience. The audience were moved and inspired by each of the stories of their peers on the dias and the ensuing discussions were very informative and lively. Also on the Panel were an Oncologist and a Pathologist who gave the much needed medical and technical support to the discussions . Nirmesh our FOM leader from Mumbai moderated the discussion with his wit and great presence of mind .
The second half was devoted to the Art Therapy workshop. We used a power point presentation to introduce the concept of Expression by Many Means and the Power of Art. This is our third such work shop and it is an incredible means of breaking barriers, bonding and encouraging uninhibited expression. The PPT used illustrations and examples from “ The Colours of Hope” and this brought our participants very close to their peers from all over the world.
Post the meeting , the core groups from both cities bonded over hot “chai” and some live music the performers being none other than the happy and contended volunteers themselves .

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