An Opportunity to Learn

is a month for celebration– It is Max’s birthday and the time
for our Maximize Life Campaign! Our patients get a platform to
express themselves and seek support to fight stigma about cancer. As patient
advocates, we from Max learn of our patients’ interesting skills and positive
qualities through various activities conducted at the meeting. 

see levels of learning we had at the Bikaner

Max – On the occasion of Maximize Life Campaign, It was decided to hold an MLC event in Bikaner and Vijaya and I were lucky to be representing the Max India team. Bikaner is a city where we never had a Patient Support Group meeting before. It
is a small city in the state of Rajasthan. The city
was established in the year 1488 AD by Rao
Bika Ji
, a Rajput prince. The city is known for producing great warriors.
Bikaner is surrounded by the Thar Desert. It has developed into the fourth largest city in
Rajasthan. The Ganges Canal, completed in 1928, and the Indira Gandhi Canal,
completed in 1987, facilitated its development.
We conducted
the first ever Patient Support Group meeting at Acharya Tulsi Regional
Cancer Treatment and Research Institute with the support of Dr Surender
Beniwal, a senior medical oncologist in this hospital. We had been continuously
in touch with Dr Beniwal for the past one year and to be able to conduct a
meeting in this city was our dream come true.
FOM – We receive full support from our Friends of Max volunteers
for all our patient support group meetings. Since this was our first meeting at
Bikaner, we had no volunteers from the city to help us organise the meeting.
However, one of our Friends of Max leader, Ravindra Khatri Singh, came all the
way from Haryana to help us. He is from Rajasthan and came to the meeting in his home state. He is pursuing an MPhil in Geography whilst teaching
under graduate students, is extremely down to earth and a warm person. He not
only helped us in all the meeting formalities but took the initiative to talk
to patients and caregivers and make them feel comfortable. He did not hesitate
to share his experience with others. It is always very humbling to realise the
positive impact others can have by sharing ones experiences. It was good to
note that the responses from the participants were so positive.  

Physician -The highlight of any support group meeting is the
Q&A session and so was it at this meeting. Most of the patients who
attended the meeting are under the care of Dr Beniwal. Despite a heavy load,
the physician was well aware of his patients and their medical history. Moreover,
he could answer questions in the regional language and kept emphasising on
compliance at every opportunity. Being a physician in a government hospital, he
has many patients for check-up during his OPD time where he can hardly spend a
few minutes with each of them. Therefore, it was a great chance for the
physician to spend time with his patients and address all their queries. We saw
a great bonding happening.

Patients – Vijaya conducted the story telling workshop. She shared
Max’s story and how Max became Maximo! It was very impressive, our patients
could relate the story and were inspired to share their own story. The stories
shared by patients reflected blessings and gratitude. Patients were happy to
find support in Max and Friends of Max. It was a great launch to the Maximize
Life Campaign.

Service Providers – We had
hired a team to manage audio visual. They were so moved by the work of Max
that the unit’s team leader came to us and not only offered help for future
meetings but also reduced his charges for setting up the AV unit.
a Sunday, there were very few hospital staff. Usually, in a government
hospital, the patient load is so huge that the hospital staff invariably treat
patients discourteously. In India, a lot of stigma is still attached to the
diagnosis of cancer. Often, people are afraid to touch cancer patients as they
believe in the myth that cancer is contagious.
our meeting, we greeted patients and caregivers with warm smiles and hugs and
sat beside them and enquired about them and made them feel comfortable. One
hospital staff watched us closely and came up to us to share that he was moved
by the way we treated the patients. He shared that this was the first time he
saw anyone treating patients so courteously with love and care. It was indeed a
proud and humbling moment!
witnessed the saying – Be the change you wish to see in the world – Mahatma

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