Dr. Peter Noronha organized a great lunch at an Oakbrook Italian Restaurant on Sunday 19th Oct. A number of alumni from Chicago and around attended this meeting along with Reji and Annamma from Bangalore. Johnites from the first batch onwards (Dr.Noel Rao) to more recent , like Ranjan M. were present.
It was an afternoon of nostalgic memories and of course as expected the discussions about the supreme court judgement were lively. The lunch was simply sumptuous with beverages and tons of exotic food.
Following lunch, a very informal meeting was held outside and the new alumni directory was distributed at this time and much appreciated. Many of the Alumni including Dr. Thoppil who handles the finances of the "Friends of St.Johns", felt that they would like to support specific projects or needs at St.Johns. For a start it was felt that an attempt will be made to fund certain basic equipment in Ophthalmology as requested by Reji and who is training in the US in Chicago.
Dr.Thoppil requested to know the costs and list of the equipment required. He said a small amount could be made available through the funds of the Friends of St.Johns and that a request should be made through K.X. Antony in the St. Johns alert requesting for further contributions for this specific project. Dr. Ivan Chau set the ball rolling immediately by contributing $1000, followed by Dr. Deepak saying he would donate his personal Indirect Ophthalmoscope and a lens. Dr Thoppil suggested that Alumni send their contributions to the Friends of St. Johns for this purpose as soon as possible to make this project possible.
The basic needs in Ophthalmology dept. included 2gonio lenses, 2 -78D lenses, an Indirect ophthalmoscope and a teaching stereoscopic slitlamp with applanation tonometer .The total cost of this would be around $12,000.
The alumni wanted the St.Johns alert to be a more regular feature and felt that the Alumni Assoc at Bangalore should take a greater responsibility to organise this . Reji agreed to reorganise this on his return.
On the whole it was an afternoon to remember !!!
Leukemia and Lyphoma Marathon-2008
Lend me your ears. I've come to bury the 26.2 mile monster.... the Marathon!
21 years ago I watched the NYCity Marathon from the side walk and wished I could run one someday. Well life with a multitude of commitments got in the way. I was bemoaning my missed dream when an acquaintance told me 'its so possible, especially if you train' and directed me to the Leukemia fundraiser with National coaches. It was a suggestion too good to pass ....incentive to finish , and to fundraise in honor of folks with cancer(currently 20 in my life).Well.... the rest is history! With your help and support I did both.Heres a capsule of the Marathon experience.
Sept-Dec.2007:Signup, fundraising , 4 runs a week,....Long runs on saturday at 5:30am,....black nails,fluid intake,Plantar Fascitis and 3 week rest,...worry, walk-run strategy,...more doubts....carb-loading,eat all I want through the Holidays :).....training through sleet,cold,windchill and rain
Jan 13,2008:Disney Orlando. weather forecast: 70 degress and showers possible!
2:30AM marathon day: I wake up at this ungodly hour with questions about my sanity.Seeth lovingly helps attach the computer chip to my sneakers ,my emergency contact info and walks me to my team.Im a bundle of nerves. The pre-Marathon block party with 18,000 participants feels surreal. I listen to the rock bands and make two trips to the porta- potty lines. Angst takes up all thought.
6:00AM: I walk to the last corral...those with no defnite time pace. Mickey and Minnie Mouse ,Goofy and Donald duck... and fireworks accompany us as we cross the start line at 6:30am.
I make my first mile and I hit disaster....I have the runs....but the next porta-potty is at the 2 mile mark and there is not a shrub in sight! I walk in agony, hoping I can hold on.(why didnt someone tell me about diapers?)
7:AM: At the 2mile mark, I'm last on the porta-potty line. Somehow I make it(side note: there are mirrors in the john!) I plan to just slow jog till I catch up. I have no Idea how the next 5 miles pass.....I was so in the moment I even forgot to dedicate these miles as I had planned.
8 AM: 7 mile mark and Im at Magic Kingdom. I catch up with a team member. Im over joyed and run with him for the next mile past Cinderella,Alice in Wonderland and Belle. (Whew,Im not the last).
9:30AM: I pass the 13.1mile ...the 1/2 MARATHON MARK AND FEEL EXILERATED.Unbelivable!!!. I even have energy.I finally think 'I might just make it'
11 AM: I've just crossed 19 miles and Im looking forward to connecting with my family(we prearranged a meeting point).When I see James,Seeth,his brother Krishna and wife Deviyani,with pompoms and messageboards...Im so moved.20yrs ago I recall running after this 3yr old in Disney and today he is trying to catch his 50 yr old Mom at the 20 mile mark.PAYBACK!!!
I continue to pace with random thoughts about schedules,T-shirt slogans, children,life,menopause,poetry,songs etc...till I pass 22 miles and trouble. My right ankle blows up and pain now colors my entire focus. Every bit of training advice,determination and inner strength got called up. Running was not possible anymore. I just kept walking briskly inspired by the back of the pack racers.Water and powergel,and tylenol help. I've consumed over 1000 calories during the race.
12 noon: 2 more miles to go and every step now agony. These last two miles were dedicated to my loved ones ( my sons,Seeth and our Dads)....how could I give up? These were the longest 2 miles I ever walked. At the last mile I found 2 team mates singing Gospel and joined them in loud, out of tune singing.
12:44 PM I see the finish line ahead and dash into the chute with no thought...just pure feeling.
I pull my sneaker off and cannot walk another step. The staff hang the medal around my neck and I slowly shuffle to the sign-out tent and my family. Im smiling ear to ear. Im on a HIGH.The next day there is more hell to pay(see video link).....but I dont regret a single step.I keep the medal on all day and inspite of the inflammed tendons.... Im contemplating my next event!Wait a mimute,did I really say that?
George Sheehan,the philosopher-king of runners: 'We are here to be heroes. The marathon is one way to prove it to ourselves....The marathon is a theater for heroism,the common man and the uncommon challenge.It shows the extraordinary powers of ordinary people'
Thanks to my patient heores and your help.....I achieved my dream.Passion and running are inseparable.And if you have that passion,you have the power to go the distance
Dr Lija Joseph is a adjunct associate Professor at Boston University and is a consultant hematopathologist based primarily at Lowell General Hospital.
She completed her medical school training at St. John’s Medical College in India, which is a medical school affiliated with the Catholic community. After her post graduate training in pathology at Trivandrum Medical College, she moved to the US. Her residency training in pathology was at University of Missouri, Columbia and fellowship training in hematology at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Her family moved to Boston in 2004. As a faculty at the medical school, she was involved with teaching medical , dental and graduate students on the medical school campus. She also participates in basic science research on campus.
When and how did you get involved in Saheli?
I learned about Saheli through lokvani. I met Chitra, one of Lokvani’s founding members at a friend’s house. After hearing about Lokvani, I subscribed online. The first issue that I read online had an article about Gouri Banerjee, who was awarded the woman of the year. I read all about her work with Saheli, and called her to ask if I could participate in any way. She was most welcoming requesting me to help with computer classes at the Cambridge public library.
What drives you to help and volunteer for a group like Saheli ?
I believe that there is a purpose for every human life beyond the ”daily grind’. Being a catholic, is instrumental in my commitment toward issues that concern social justice. All my life, I have watched family and friends commit acts of kindness that left a mark in my mind. I am fortunate to be married to someone who supports me in my mission. As a family, we participate in activities at the catholic church in Newton Center and in a small community in Dorchester, served by the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa
Are you involved in any special initiative at Saheli ? What is your role?
I am the coordinator of healthcare portfolio for Saheli. This involves coordinating programs that support the overall, physical, mental and emotional heath and well being of anyone who seeks such support from Saheli.
As a dedicated volunteer what would you tell someone who would like to join the group.
There are many opportunities to volunteer in this group. Please take a look at the website, come to a few meetings at the Burlington Public Library on second Saturdays of the month at 2 PM. See if there is an area of interest that you would like to contribute. Certainly the joy of giving is worth the effort
Finally how do you balance work, family and service in your daily life ?
This is always a difficult question to answer. I have a few paradigms that help me. I accept that I am not a superwoman. I have a very supportive group of friends that I call for help when I need them. I am available to them when they need me. My husband and children support me in my work.
At work, I function with the thought that every moment that I am away from my family is a moment, I should be spending in worthwhile activities. This keeps me focused and on a daily basis reminds me that I should do the best I can with my time. My faith helps me stay grounded and find priorities that may not always be ‘conventional’. I try to attend a catholic mass daily or as often as I can. I do find time to take music lessons from Durga Krishnan at Learnquest and find time for exercise. Even if it is not a lot, finding a few hours a week that is “mine”, helps me to “give” better.
Saheli's current initiatives -
Support Group: SAHELI recently started a support group for women which meets once a month, every third Wednesday in the Burlington Public Library. This group gives an opportunity to women to share and discuss their experiences and get to know each other. From a small group of 9 women, three months ago, the support group now has twenty one members.
SAHELI reaches out to women overseas: We have also reached across the borders and helped women in India. We are building a good relationship with the Indian Consulate in NY to provide some financial assistance to needy women in distress who have been deserted by their overseas Indian spouses for obtaining counseling and legal services.
SAHELI Computer Literacy Classes: SAHELI computer literacy classes in Cambridge were temporarily stopped after many years due to the construction in the Cambridge library. This program had been very successful in the past. Not wanting to give up, SAHELI, worked hard for two months to get another location and reach out to the people who could really benefit from the program. The Computer Classes are now held in the Waltham Library, every Wednesday. 21 students enrolled and we have many on the waiting list. The Waltham Library Staff also helped SAHELI reach out to the people. We have a group of dedicated Volunteer teachers who have made this program so very successful.
To know more http://www.saheliboston.org/