blogpost406_1The Indian subcontinent has always been characterized by the stoic inner strength of its population that has helped them overcome natural and man-made disasters that seem to always be lying in wait for them. Burdened by their large populations, poor economy and the inept administration of their largely unstable governments, it has fallen upon the people to come to their own rescue.

And it is not so different for their health either. Besides the share of debilitating infectious diseases, many are facing a rising incidence of non-communicable diseases, such as cancer. The challenges here go beyond funding. There is fear, denial, and the heavy burden of stigma.

And yet, we see an indomitable spirit within our community that helps them overcome the toughest situation in their lives, seize available opportunities, and make the best of it. Through the power of belief, faith, and the humbling sense of brotherhood that brings their greatest strength, people in the South Asia region do everything they can to support each other and maximize their lives.

This is what we celebrate through our Maximize Life Campaign: by sharing the burden of disease among each other, immense strength is gained. The ability to rise above our deprivation leads the way to a life of service to others.

Whether it is a student of rural agriculture in Bangladesh, a government servant in Nepal, a young physician working in the hinterlands of Sri Lanka, or a bus conductor in a district of Western India, these are the achievers in the true sense of the word. And not just achievers, but advocates and role models.

So this year we celebrate and honor these superhuman beings who have been extraordinary advocates and have found unique ways to give back to society. They have shown us how to cope with the diagnosis and live life as winners. Not only have they looked after themselves but spent the time post-diagnosis providing specialized services to others.

These are men, women, and young adults who have set up support groups, schools, non-profits, and community centers in different parts of the region to show the way forward to so many others.

In the very centers that they have created, they will stand up and speak out. Throughout the land, all through the month of October, they will speak out against stigma and other perceived diminishing aspects of cancer and share their inspiring stories with the public. Their reach will be further maximized by using the power of the Internet and they will, in specially made videos, share with the world their incredible journey into a future that has no place for fear or stigma. Only the power of Maximizing Life.