Pat shares to a group of Friends of Max during the Workshop Mela.

Our Guest Bloggers collaborating on this summit overview are members of The Max Foundation team based in India who led and participated in the Friends of Max 2015 Leadership Summit. They include Shilpi Sirohi Singh, Ashika Naik, Ameya Surve, and Priyanka Kandalgaokar.

In India, the word “Mela” means ‘gathering’ or ‘to meet’ or a ‘fair’. India is a land of fairs and festivals – every month there are festivals held throughout the different regions of India.

Even though there was no festival on the 19th of May in Hyderabad, it was as if the city was in a festive mood on the second day of our the Friends of Max 2015 Leadership Summit (read the recap of our first day here) which was all set up like a Mela or festival. In honor of the day, we adorned the four corners of our venue with colorful balloons and decorations to make it look like a true Mela. However, our Mela was not simply a party. The four corners of the Mela each featured a workshop:

Workshop 1: Volunteer Training

For Friends of Max, volunteers plays a central role in creating awareness of the program, educating patients, and raising funds. At this workshop, participants discussed ways to identify volunteers and strategies to train and retain them.

Workshop 2: Care for the Caregiver

Caregivers – spouses, siblings, parents, or friends of a patient – face a distinct set of issues, whether they are financial, social, or emotional. For instance, a daughter desperately managing her mother’s treatment may struggle to ensure her education is not affected.

This workshop on caring for caregivers offered ideas and strategies on supporting caregivers with their particular issues. It proved to be a popular topic – many participants felt the workshop provided them with a platform to share their concerns and requested future event sessions focused on further addressing the needs of caregivers.

Workshop 3: Advocating for Oneself

When people living with cancer are able to advocate for themselves, they are able to effectively communicate an interest, desire, need, or right – and negotiate to resolve it. Effective self-advocates understand individual strengths and needs, can develop personal goals, and learn to recognize legal rights and responsibilities. Leadership Summit participants discussed various health insurance topics, such as disclosure in policy diagnosis, insurance available without medical checkups, and applying for insurance online.

Workshop 4: Working With our Physicians

People facing cancer have better health outcomes when their physicians are effective, empathetic communicators. When a patient is able to talk with their doctor, they learn to trust their doctor and are able to advocate their needs. By strengthening this relationship, patients will be more willing to follow their doctor’s instructions, leading to healthier decisions and results. Many factors come together to contribute to building a strong relationship with our physicians which ultimately helps the cancer survivor to build self-confidence.

Overall, the Mela was a great success as a platform for the second day of the Friends of Max 2015 Leadership Summit and participants actively engaged in their workshops. It was an honor to be among such accomplished individuals and to be able to participate in the Workshop Mela. Congratulations to all the participants for their successful contribution to this historic event!