Shifting gears on the Fast Track

A CML
patients’ Support Group meeting was organised in Coimbatore, a city in the deep
South of India at the behest of one of the NOA physicians on 1st June 2013.

This meeting in many ways was ground breaking . After 12 years , reaching out
for the first time in a particular region and getting FOM leaders to work in
tandem with us . One actually felt the force of applying the brake while on
normal course and having to change gears in order to slow the pace as the
profile of the group was a shade different .

The meeting was held as part of the Survivor Day celebrations and the hospital
provided all the logistical support needed including their premises , state of
the art auditorium and refreshments for the participants .

Senior physicians and HOD of the institution attended and presided over the
meeting .

At Max India we welcomed this initiative for many reasons , the most important
being the fact that Medical Faculty is showing interest in our patient
 care activities and offering much needed support .

Moreover , the city of Coimbatore and its surrounding regions had never been
host to a MAX/FOM meeting and it fitted with our goals of spreading our reach
with support programmes into the second tier cities all over India .

Most importantly , it also was the perfect vehicle to launch the
“mentoring” programme that the core group leaders of FOM Chennai were
ready with .
Another very important reason I was eager to move ahead on this was the fact
that the physician wanted to involve all his CML patients , even those on
generic Imatininb .

Despite the date set by Dr Kannan of the GVMK hospital not really what we would
have preferred , both the Max India team and the Chennai FOM leaders
 decided to make some adjustments and go for it all the way. After all,
one does not look the gift horse in the mouth and if the physician and his team
were stretching a hand out , we too would see what we could contribute. The
beneficiaries would be patients and care givers , hitherto not approached or
included in any kind of non medical intervention.

Working in tandem with an institution that has its own set standards and
procedures was never going to be easy. At Max India too, we have certain SOP in
place which has historically ensured that meetings are conducted with  all
norms respected and mindful of all sensibilities. It was a big learning
experience therefore for us to make sure a successful meeting was planned and
conducted meeting each others’ procedural requirements .

Our ability to think on our feet was sorely tested but I do believe we came out
with flying colours .

A mutually agreeable agenda was set and keeping in mind that this was a first
time experience and it included the following
An introduction to The Max Foundation and Friends of Max
A special address by FOM Chennai core group leader
Inspiring Testimonials
Presentation on CML by the physician
PCR awareness Campaign : Group Counselling + PPT Presentation by MI
Distribution of Book of Stories, FAQ on CML , PCR buttons and FAQ in Tamil
Networking

The group of over 120 patients and caregivers attending had time over lunch and
later to interact with each other and there was a perfect platform for the
eight Chennai leaders to explain the benefits of being a member of a support
group besides enlightening the participants in small groups on various
compliance issues .

Patients on GIPAP/NOA mingled with those who were not and many notes were
exchanged . FOM Chennai leaders made it known in advance to the physician that
members into the group were going to be informed about the process of induction
and membership .

For me personally , this meeting was a big lesson in how to change gears and
adapt and adjust , not only to a partner institution while conducting the
programme , but also a lesson in moving seamlessly from organising and
conducting a programme for a new profile patient group and in the regional
language . Even though Tamil is my mother tongue , it needed all my skills with
which to make all the presentations as well as do the PCR group counselling
while the registration was going on.  Therefore it was all the more
important and relevant that the Chennai group leaders were at hand to ensure no
message was misunderstood.

This meeting was a landmark one indeed . Both in terms of outreach and in
establishing an on going mentor ship system .

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