The Life Raft Group has outreach programs in many countries, including some where Novartis doesn’t offer any formal assistance program through the Max Foundation. The foundation can only operate in countries where Glivec (Gleevec) has been formally approved for the treatment of CML (chronic myelogenous leukemia) or GIST (gastrointestinal stromal tumor). In these countries there is program in place for patients to apply for assistance in obtaining Glivec.

In other countries, the Life Raft Group tries to fill the gap by working behind the scenes to get Glivec to GIST patients.

Two of these countries are Poland and Iran. In both countries are GIST patients, both fathers, the Life Raft Group is helping.

Marek Szczesny was born May 5, 1939, in Poland, has been happily married for more then 35 years and is the father of two sons. One son, Bartosz, is a LRG member. Marek had no serious medical problems until his GIST was diagnosed in March 2003. Since June 2003, following surgery, he has been on Glivec with excellent response.

Gholamali Amirfarhad of Iran is also responding to Glivec. Gholamali was born in 1940 in Tehran. Married for 34 years, he is the father of two daughters, Negar and Sogol, Negar is the LRG member. Gholamali was a teenager when he started building a career as a professional wrestler but had to stop in his mid-20s due to a burst appendix.

Negar writes that her dad is an individual who affects every person he meets. He has sponsored orphaned families, put employees through university and has instilled deep-rooted values of integrity, honesty, respect and responsibility in his family. A walk down a street in Tehran often includes individuals greeting him and thanking him for the influence he has had on themselves or their families.

He wrestled many champions in his day, but this is a match we pray he wins. Gholamali Amirfarhad and his wife, Shahnaz, of Iran. Their daughter Negar is a member of the Life Raft Group. Marek Szczesny of Poland. His son Bartoz is a member of the Life Raft.