Posted by Guest Blogger on October 10, 2011
The Guest Blogger for this post is Wirat, one of our MaxStations in Thailand. He and our local team in Bangkok work closely with MaxSmiles, an in-country patient support group for people living with blood cancer and rare cancers. The majority of the group members are Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) and Gastro Intestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST) survivors. However, this year the group also welcomed people living with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and Multiple Myeloma and their families for the first time.
There is one event of year that MaxSmiles members always long for. Yes, the Celebration of Life, or what we call in our group the “October Event”. We made our theme for the event to be “Simply, easy and make it feel like home”.
We had so many things new for this year. First, a Kid’s Registration form. Yes, we have the kids all write their name by themselves. We also had a kids’ corner for them with a caregiver to look after them and lead craft activities. For children with cancer, the Toys and Dolls donation for Children Hospital was a new and successful project. There were over 200-300 toys, dolls, baby diapers, snacks and lots more collected for kids facing cancer. Plus, thanks to the project “With love in every stitch” we have over 50 knitting-crochet hats for the kids at Cancer Ward at the Children Hospital. The table we provided was not even big enough to place all the donations. Thanks to all generosity of the members!
The group activities started with Yoga for health and mind, led by a volunteer. This was so good and members liked it. And patient education always attracts the audience at the group meetings. As last time, physicians made information simpler for everyone to understand. The Q&A session was full of questions and the guest physicians answered without tiring, big thanks to Dr. Yingyong from Siriraj Hospital (the same hospital where the King gets treatment). One new thing for this year was an interview session. We were honored that Dr. Miriam, Hematologist, joined our group. She agreed to give a talk about her CML experiences in treating and receiving the treatment. Most of the audience was so surprised and later on was so touched by things she was sharing.
The MaxSmiles’ slide show with music brought some smiles to every face to remembering 4 years that we have been together, starting from the very first picnic meeting at the park. Two of the original members who were there are still with us until today. Then, I interviewed a member who always come to the monthly meeting and support to the group. Testimonials given by the group members always encourages other new members. This year, we had a lady who has been fighting CML for 16 years and she has really won nowadays. Plus, we heard from a man who fought so hard to get the medicine, and a man who went in and out the hospital for the side effect and he is really good now and responding so well to the treatment.
Finally, we had a Bai-Sri Ceremony for the guest of honor which was Dr. Miriam, and special treat for our new workmate – Piyapong, who had been volunteering in the event preparation, with a surprise treat that Wasan and I created the night before. We had all the members participate in a welcome ceremony for him by writing message on big tag, which we name it as “inscribed cloth”, to make him not leave us. This ceremony was so warm and happy for both sides.
This year we sent the invitation out and we did not expect many to come since there was flooding all over the country. But we were wrong, members started to walk from early morning, from far away, some of them traveled over 1,000 kilometers to join the event. We gave big claps to those people who traveled such a long, long way to see us. After we counted the registration forms, there were at least 114 participants. And we got a big applause for that number, too.
If you are a big fan MaxSmiles, then please stay tuned for more updates to come!