Viji Venkatesh represents The Max Foundation in Mumbai, India. In her capacity as lead “MaxStation” she works closely with the local patient association known as Friends of Max which has 14 chapters in cities throughout India.
By Viji Venkatesh, The Max Foundation; Mumbai, India
Head MaxStation India & MaxStation Coordinator Asia Pacific Region
As all the Friends of Max from the four corners of this vast land gathered together to celebrate their lives in all its glory, their joy and spirits were testimony to the philosophy propounded by none other than Gandhi ji himself whose birth anniversary also falls on October 2nd. “Suffering cheerfully endured, ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into an ineffable joy” is what he once said and Living Strong and with Joy and Hope in our lives the Friends of Max support group was proud to be part of LIVESTRONG Day today.
1,200 cancer survivors and caregivers came together in Hyderabad, India, the energy, friendship, love of life and passion, perfectly matched the values of LIVESTRONG Day. With the motto of ‘Together We Share and Learn’, members of the Friends of Max India Trust, the India patient support arm of The Max Foundation, spent the day sharing testimonials, learning about their disease, improving their advocacy skills, and encouraging each other. Members of Friends of Max are chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) survivors, most of them in their 20s and 30s, some living with cancer for up to 10 years. Volunteers wore their yellow bands with pride, instantly joining the LIVESTRONG movement.
Guests began lining up at 7 AM to participate in the event. Some came by train crossing the vast India countryside for up to 24 hours, some brought their families, and yet some, who lost a loved one to the un-relentless disease, came to be with the people who understand them and know them best. In a country where stigma is likely to affect everything from your job status to your marriage possibilities, the Friends of Max gatherings provide a setting where survivors are able to open up without fear of discrimination.
The LIVESTRONG Day gathering was the launching board of a series of Celebrations of Life events to take place throughout the month of October, as Friends of Max– with 14,500 members in total joins patient organizations in more than 20 countries for the “Kids can Rise Above Cancer too” campaign, directly benefiting thousands of children with cancer around the world.