Throughout the month of October, as we celebrate the Maximize Life Campaign, we’ve invited team members to share stories of dignity and hope from patients and caregivers. We share these stories so they may inspire you to raise your voice, fight the stigma cancer carries, and offer hope to all. Read the previous post in the series.

Ka from Cambodia

Shared by the Asia Pacific Team

When Ka came to Thailand for access to treatment, she had the chance to join the MaxSmiles patient group meetings. Ka started to dream about having her own meetings and soon found support from Dr. Mary Cluck, an Australian volunteer working with Cambodian CML patients. Ka stepped up and called the patients one-by-one to invite them to their first patient meeting.

On January 11th 2013, Ka’s first patient meeting was underway! We offered MaxSmiles T-shirts and bags to all in attendance. There was a patient education session from Dr. Mary (as they call her in Cambodia) in Khmer language, and there was Q&A session. Lunch was traditional Khmer food, prepared with love by Ka’s mother. Ka’s friends even sang a song they wrote which became the group theme song! On that day, Max Miracle was founded in Cambodia.

As I always say, Ka never gives up! She does anything to make her dreams come true. She made history with Max Miracle by being one of the first patient groups for CML patients in Cambodia!

The Memorial Wall in South Africa

Shared by the Africa & Middle East Team

During the 2010 Maximize Life Campaign, The Max Foundation in South Africa created a message board within one of the largest libraries in Pretoria. The objective of the wall was for members of the public to write messages of encouragement and hope to those living with cancer. Following the campaign, the messages would be distributed to cancer patients and caregivers and posted on The Max Foundation website – spreading hope and decreasing isolation.

Spending time at the wall I soon realized that a secondary objective was reached. People were not only writing messages, but they were openly engaging in dialogue with those around them, all sharing stories about cancer. The wall was no longer a static receiver of messages, it had become an active encourager of cancer conversations amongst strangers. Behind every short message was a longer story to be told, people want to talk about cancer. 
We are all affected by cancer, and platforms such as the Maximize Life Campaign not only allow us to gather as strangers for a cause, but leads us to being friends in victory.