Posted by Viji Venkatesh on August 22, 2011
He is nine years old and looks maybe just closer to eight. His name Vaibhav means Glory or Grandeur and this little boy’s bearing sure bears testimony to his name. No compromise here. A slightly built nine year old yes, but I repeat: there is no compromising on the grandeur angle.
We were at the Marriot Hotel in Pune where a local key opinion leader physician had helped us organize a support group meeting for the region. Young Vaibhav walked into the rather imposing venue looking very much at ease, announced his name and that of the treating physician’s at the registration counter and refused all help in pinning his name card on to his well pressed brick red shirt. Right from the minute he walked in leading his father by the hand he had attracted my attention and I remember thinking that is a very young but capable caregiver!! It soon dawned on me however that this was actually a patient himself and something about his calm and dignified demeanor moved my heart immensely.
Leaving his father to collect his day’s “welcome” bag he very purposefully walked towards the Signature Campaign poster, curiosity and interest writ large on his little face. It was apparent he was intrigued and wanted to know what this campaign was all about. As most of our readers are aware The Max Foundation and its supporters together have reached an amazing milestone in the collection of signatures in support of the World Cancer Declaration! More than 20,000 people have added their names through our website in support of this important declaration. Each one of them is very proud to be a part of this effort the result of which will be presented to world leaders at the United Nations High Level Meeting about cancer control and other non communicable diseases in September 2011.
The more than 20,000 people from 97 countries around the world have signed the World Cancer Declaration through The Max Foundation’s online Tribute Wall and they are able to be part of this massive effort through the various meetings held in partnership with patient groups all over the country. Not having access to internet has not been a deterrent to anyone to participate – our Tribute Wall is mobile and moves from meeting to meeting and city to city.
But I am digressing. I could see Vaibhav gearing up to sign the poster and he was deep in conversation with the volunteer in charge. When I moved close to him and asked him if I could take a picture of him signing he was fine with it already concentrating on printing his name neatly in the box in Marathi, the language he spoke. When I asked him if he was happy he signed he said, “It is my duty to sign, no? I am a cancer patient and all this is to give me the help I need. I get my medicine, I go to school and I play with my friends. This is all very important to me. So I also put my name with all the others." Such a simple truth, so easily comprehended by a young child whose reasoning was so straightforward.
Later on, as the day’s event progressed Vaibhav was an eager participant sharing his little tips on good compliance and good adherence practices. He spoke about his physician, his happiness at having a doctor like him to take care of his sickness and how his family looked after him so well . He said he would never forget to take his medicine even for one day because he knew it was important.