Posted by Guest Blogger on October 15, 2012
This update on the MaxSmiles event has been edited by Guest Blogger and MAX social work intern, Katie, and told to us by Wirat, one of our MaxStations based in Bangkok, Thailand.
On October 6, MaxSmiles celebrated not only Internationational CML Day, the Maximize Life "Stomp Out Cancer" campaign, and the “What is MY PCR?” campaign, but also the FIFTH anniversary of the MaxSmiles Group! New and veteran MaxSmiles group members took ownership of the day and led different activities to empower, engage, and educate all participants. They felt Max smiling down at them, and perhaps holding back the rain that threatened to ruin the day—but never came!
In honor of MaxSmiles’s fifth year anniversary, Wirat presented a powerpoint on the history of The MAX Foundation, Max’s Story, and the MaxSmiles group. He told the MaxSmiles group’s journey, starting from a patient support group in a park and growing to the active group that it is today—with an official name and logo. In fact, they recently mailed 2,700 newsletters to members and physicians! Two members, whom had been with the group since the beginning, attended the meeting and shared their reasons for sticking with MaxSmiles through the years.
Patient and caregiver education was a key part of the day. Dr. Jomtana Siripaibun, Medical Oncologist from the Cancer Researcher Centername Chulaborn Hospital, presented “GIST Education” and updated the group on the recent the ASCO meeting that she attended in the US. She also hosted a “GIST and Tumor Cancer” question and answer session. Giving another valuable perspective, a GIST patient in good health and spirit shared his experience of being in treatment for six years.
A Buddhist monk also attended the meeting. He gave a workshop on holistic mind-body health, leading a session on “The Way of The Buddhist”. He taught the group in mind and body exercises. Together, the group closed their eyes, took deep breaths with long exhales, and thought good thoughts. It was a practical exercise that everyone could do at home.
Throughout this active day, members contributed in many ways to make the day a success. They distributed MAXSmiles cloth bags containing a MAX wristband, a “What is My PCR?” button, a pen, a survey form, and a specially-designed Stomp Out Cancer T-Shirt. To add the fun, Wasan, a fellow MaxStation based in Bangkok led a “Rock-Paper-Scissor” group game for everyone to enjoy. Another member and a friend played music for the group, helping to create a relaxing environment. Ka made ribbon flowers to present to the presenting physician. When language was an issue, members translated for each other.
Members modeled healthy eating habits by cooking for the group and offering healthy foods, like vegetarian and non-vegetarian halal. They avoided sweetened drinks and instead chose to serve herb drinks like Crysanthemum tea, Lemongrass tea, Butterfly pea tea, and water.
And that’s not all! Stayed tuned for Part II to see the generous “Give Back” project that the members organized during this busy, productive, and celebratory day! And look out for the special message from Grandma Chok!