The show was sold out.
The stage was set. And the playwright/ director was none other than our own
dear Viji.

Our promising stars
were divided in to four groups- Yellow, Orange, Blue and Green, and each group
was assigned a skit based on real life scenarios from life in the CML
community. They were given just 30 minutes to prepare.
The effect was
electric! People, who were quiet and hesitant a few minutes earlier, were soon
the cynosure of all eyes, as they acted with aplomb and reeled off impromptu
dialogues that would have floored the professionals.
The first skit- of a
husband not knowing why he is feeling so unwell amidst his son’s birthday
celebrations, his concerned wife, and helpful friend enabling the timely visit
to a physician- was enacted so powerfully that many could relate it to their
own diagnoses.
The second one- of the
newly diagnosed patient sharing the information with his boss, and immediately
getting his softened and supportive attention- would have been helpful to those
wondering, Hamlet style, “To Tell or Not to Tell”.
The third- a scene from
a crowded Oncological Out Patient Ward, with a real life Doctor playing the role-
brought out the hidden star of the show, an elder patient intended to play a
silent, waiting patient, who stole the show with her incisive questions, which
even tested the preparation of the physician (as Dr. Niranjini laughingly
confided in private, later on).
The fourth one- of an
FOM meet- turned in to a feedback session for me, as a participant enacted my
role as presenter, and it also allowed us an insight on how they viewed our
organizational efforts.
As it usually happens
after a successful show, the autograph hunters came backstage- and we got 8 new
volunteers for the FOM at the center, where until then we had only one. And a
few more have declared themselves on standby.
Such was the impact of
the Drama Therapy session held during the first ever patients support group
meet at Vizag (Visakhapatnam) on 12th March, 2016.


Earlier, Sandhya, the
only FOM core group member at the center, Sudha and I had managed to get the
meeting organized, after months of effort, and many teleconferences among us,
and with other core group members at Hyderabad, who made the convincing calls..
Vijaya joined us, in place of Sudha, for conducting the meet.
We got the
whole-hearted support of Dr. Raghunadharao, eminent oncologist and GIPAP/NOA
physician, who is in the process of setting up the Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital
& Research Center at Vizag. Apart from sponsoring refreshments and free
jute bags, he also conducted a medical camp for collecting blood samples for
free RTPCR testing. The physician came with his wife, Dr. Leela, a
gynecological oncologist, right at the start, and stayed throughout the day.
When I made my
presentation, Dr. Raghunadharao stepped in to support me with translation in
chaste Telugu, wherever I faced the limitation of my knowledge of the local
language, from my schooldays.


The Q&A session was
chaired by Dr. Raghunadharao and Dr. Madan Mohan. At first, the notes with
queries were just a few. Very soon, hands were reaching for the mic, and the
questions flowed freely. It went on for an hour and half. Since this session
preceded the Drama Therapy session, it galvanized the participants and got them
prepared for the enhanced participation that followed.
By the end of the meet,
the participants had become so comfortable, that they just wouldn’t leave even
after Vijaya proposed the vote of thanks and the meet was declared closed. It
appeared to us that they felt their questions had been answered, and the future
of the CML community in Vizag is in their hands now.
Not to forget, Viji explained the proposed new tax
rules, which could impact the cost of supplies from Novartis, and appealed to
the participants to sign the petition seeking status quo.
The best lesson we
learned from the meet is that all the Drama works, as it suggests solutions,
which the participants accept as their own, without any urging from us.

Where are we booked
next, Max? Broadway? 😉
A few more pictures taken during the meet :


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