Posted by Guest Blogger on April 03, 2012
Wirat, our MaxStation in Thailand for many years, works closely with patient leaders and has taken an active role in supporting the local patient group known as MaxSmiles. He is our Guest Blogger today, telling a story about MaxSmiles.
Recently I received an urgent request to help a patient in Thailand. The patient was a scholarship student from Kenya who was in Thailand to study for 2 years.
We finally met up and I accompanied him to the hospital. In the visit, the physician recommended that the patient take the chromosome test which is necessary for CML treatment. The patient has not taken the test due to limited access to resources in Kenya. And now finances are the main issue because he comes as a scholarship student who has a limited budget for his studying and living in Thailand. He patient told me that there will be a loan coming to him but it would take many months.
The patient was able to visit our office and the place where MaxSmiles, the local support group for people living with CML and GIST, meets up every month. He was so keen to come visit the group. He kept his promise and made it to the MaxSmiles meeting. At first, he was so quiet and talked only to me since no one who came early was able to speak English. I introduced him to an Indian member who has been living in Thailand and speaks English, and they became friends and have stuck together since then. Lunch amazed him by the amount and taste of Thai food. More members came and tried talking to him in simple English and they made him feel less shy and nervous.
Afternoon was the sharing session, and the patient introduced himself and I was his interpreter. He told the story of how he came to Thailand. He feels happy that he was in MaxSmiles and would like to share his experiences with the CML Supporting Group in Kenya. He promises to come join MaxSmiles meeting for every month during his time in Thailand.
I talked to the MaxSmiles members about the patient’s chromosome test and his financial issues. The group agreed to provide him the money, and he can pay the group back later. The patient was so appreciative and thanked the members. He stayed and helped me and the members to clean up the venue. He sat down and talked to us and the Indian member for some time about how he feels accepted here. I could see that he feels happy and released from his worries.
This experience showed me that MaxSmiles is more than just meeting for lunch and talk. We are supporting each other emotionally and financially, not only in the group, but for the ones who come by and need help. Today, we have got a new friend from a far away country and we will look after him well while he is here.