It was on Saturday, September 12th, that I had the chance to attend the Maxi-Vida Chile patient meeting that took place in Santiago de Chile. Patients, family members and friends travelled from all around Chile for this special occasion, considering we were doing the Celebration of Life – Maxi-Vida Chile’s 1st year of existence, plus the proximity to Max’s birthday – as well as the Chilean national holidays, which were soon to happen.
The meeting was scheduled to start at 3 p.m. and, even though we arrived on time, there were already a few families who had arrived before us. The members of Maxi-Vida Chile had worked hard throughout the whole day in order to build the stage and decorate the salon with Chilean as well as Argentinean flags and balloons.
While we waited for all the guests to arrive, those new patients who had never been to a patient meeting before started chatting with the old ones and sharing experiences. Everybody who arrived announced themselves at the entry table, where Patty registered their names and presented everyone with a copy of “El Miguelito”, the neighbourhood’s official newspaper, where there was an article about Maxi-Vida Chile recently published. On another table, Luis and Felipe received donations from everyone who wanted to participate.
Just as the place looked full (the final number of guests was of 120 people!), the meeting started. The first speaker was the dashing Inés García González, who welcomed everyone, spoke about the meaning of the TMF event, Celebration of Life, and invited all new patients to introduce themselves. After this, Fernando, the president of the association, made a few announcements, and then the shows started.
The first to take the stage was patient María’s son and his dance partner, who did a lovely number of Cueca – a dance typical of Chile. Not only did they dance themselves, but after that they also invited people from the crowd to dance with them! Mitzi, patient Hector’s wife – both Cueca champions – and a boy from another dance group volunteered, and delighted us with their performance.
Please ignore the whooping of the camera in the beginning of the video. It wasn’t me! (well, maybe it was).
Unexpectedly, a new patient from Talca, Luis, decided to stand up and recite a poem. Go you, Luis!
Next, we listened to this singer’s Cueca songs, and enjoyed the dances of three more Cueca-dancing groups. Of course, the empanadas did not take long to arrive (regional FOOD!), and everyone could have a piece of one of the fifteen Maxi-Vida cakes.
The afternoon flew by, it was already night and everyone was leaving, but Héctor and his wife Mitzi were still in the Cueca-mood and danced a little more.
In the end, no member of Maxi-Vida Chile left without their Celebration of Life plant, a small tree, symbol of the association’s year of life as well as their own lives, which they live to the fullest in spite of their disease, and the quality of which we work everyday to improve.