29.06.2014 - 01.07.2014
On Sunday morning we had to take off our tourist hats, and put on our Peds Oncology hats- well, me and Karina did, anyways. While Bev had a nice day touring around, seeing the Singapore National Museum, and eating yummy sushi, Karina and I went to the Shangri-La Hotel for our Education Day on Pediatric Neuro-Oncology. I guess I won't bore you too much with the details, but there were some really great speakers, and I learned a lot of brain tumors, the treatment, side effects and long-term outcomes.
Two highlights: We had an International Nursing Lunch to bring together Pediatric Neuro-Oncology nurses from all over the world to talk about our experiences, and to learn a bit about each other's practices. There were quite a few local Singaporean nurses who aren't specialized in Peds Onc, never mind neuro-onc, so it was great for them to get to hear a bit about the way we practice. There was also a great presentation by Sister Laura, the head nurse of the KKK Children's Hospital in Singapore, who has created an international outreach program across Asia to train local nurses in developing countries. She goes to the local hospitals and teaches the nurses about the special care required when caring for kids with cancer, chemo administration, etc. It was a very inspiring presentation, as this is something I'd really like to be involved with once I'm done with school next year.
The other highlight was a speaker on Palliative Care from St. Jude's. He spoke about their program and also the importance of integrating palliative care early on with our patients, with a view of comfort and symptom alleviation, unless and until something more is needed from the Palliative Care Team. He spoke quite eloquently and with clear passion for this extra-special population, and it warmed me in my Peds Onc heart.
After the Education Day, Karina and I met back up with Bev to go to the Welcome Reception at the SIngapore Flyer (big Ferris wheel). This is where we got a real taste for the sticky, sweaty Singapore heat- it was unbelievably hot and humid, and for some reason the Reception was outdoors. We weren't able to stay too long as I started to smell a bit like teen spirit; so we went out for dinner and had some local Singapore delicacies before calling it a night.
Day One of the International Symposium on Pediatric Neuro-Oncology (ISPNO) conference was on Monday morning. It started at 8:00 am, and went until 2020. Just kidding, but it went until 8:30 pm, with only two short ten minute breaks, including a "boxed lunch" during the Low Grade Glioma Symposium. Needless to say, by the end of the day, our heads were full, our bodies were tired, and there was really only one thing to do: go to Kampong Glam for margaritas and Mexican food. (Oh, I guess I should say that we learned lots of useful and interesting information, but it was necessary to have some alcohol in order to really *absorb* that info).
You may think it's weird to have Mexican food in Singapore, but it was actually really delicious. We had some guacamole freshly made at the table, I had a perfect burrito, and there were delicious drinks enjoyed by all.
Day Two of the conference, we were a bit wiser in terms of pacing ourselves. We of course started with customary coffee and bagels at the Starbucks, then learned about HIgh Grade Gliomas and DIPG for the morning. We decided that for wellness' sake, we would abstain from the boxed-lunch symposium, in favor of eating lunch not off of our laps. It was a lovely lunch- at least for Bev and I, Karina's lunch never came so she had to grab a smoothie on the way back to the conference.
In the afternoon, Karina and I attended the Concurrent Nursing Program- a nice break from all the molecular and cancer genetic/genomics talk going on upstairs, in favor of some practical nursing research. Some interesting presentations from nurses from Sweden, Australia, Ireland, and the USA got everybody excited about Neuro-Onc, at least excited enough, in one woman's words, to last two years until the next ISPNO. It is a very special experience to be surrounded by people who know what you do, the hard parts, the fun parts, and why we keep going back, day after day, year after year. Instead of the typical "oh my god, that must be so sad/hard/depressing" conversations that are common when meeting new people, these were conversations about how we can better help our patients and families, what other centres are doing that we could implement, and how can we, as nurses, contribute to the body of knowledge surrounding Peds Neuro-Oncology,
That night, we headed over to Chinatown for shopping, taking pictures, and eating.
Three days down, one to go!