Background and Context:
Cancer is one of the most stigmatized diseases in Thailand, and when patients are diagnosed they feel scared, depressed, lonely and isolated. In order to provide peer support to patients, MaxSmiles was formed by a small group of 30 CML and GIST patients in a park in Bangkok in 2007. Some had been living with cancer for many years and some were newly diagnosed, but they all came join together to share and listen to each other’s stories.
1. To create an effective grassroots patient support group for patients to come and, support and encourage one
2. To improve patient education
3. To create sense of social responsibility, advocacy and community service among patients
Patient Group Strategy:
1. Identify a patient group leader who is
in good health and is eager to develop community among CML and GIST patients
2. Arrange monthly meetings in a venue that is peaceful and quiet. It is critical to create good atmosphere during the meeting to encourage sharing.
3. Encourage members to contribute something to the group, such as snacks, educational materials, and etc. Having lunch together is a good way to casually socialize and share experiences.
1. Meet and socialize
2. Share personal experiences related to treatment
3. Group activity
MaxSmiles has meetings on every first Saturday of the month, with around 30-50 active members, and an annual patient education meeting with 150 participants. MaxSmiles is an active patient support group in Thailand with 2,000 members around the country. MaxSmiles opened the channel for the new member to reach us on many type of media, is now available on the Newsletter, World Wide Web and Facebook. MaxSmiles expanded to three more regions using the strategy described above and hopes to share this approach with patients in other countries.