Changing Departments: Off to Oncology Clinic

October 23, 2014

So I’ve been in Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center for about 2.5 months now.

I had originally applied to KFSH&RC because I wanted to become an oncology nurse and learn chemotherapy. At home, it is fairly difficult to get into chemotherapy clinics as positions are usually snatched up by staff with much more seniority.

So learning that KFSH&RC was opening a big a new cancer center and looking to train new staff… I jumped at the opportunity to come here and learn new skills.

Unfortunately… but not really… I ended up in the Radiation Clinic for a few months initially as this is where I had some background experience back home. But after 2.5 months… of really not utilizing my Radiation Therapy nursing skills… and not much of my nursing skills in general… I realized I had to switch departments. To something a little more intense… where I’d actually learn what I’d come out to Saudi Arabia to do!

I requested a department transfer to the Oncology Clinic… and after a few weeks of following through the appropriate chanels… I landed an interview with the head nurse… who then offered me a job in the Oncology Clinic. YAY!! I would be trained in chemotherapy administration and also would take a basic oncology course to gain a greater understanding of oncology nursing.

Fortunately, between my Palliative ICU background and my Radiation Clinic experience from Canada… Oncology nursing isn’t completely new for me so I’ll have a bit of a leg to stand on… I hope!!

Anyways. Today is my last day in Radiation Clinic. I’ve loved getting to know a lot of the staff there and building relationships with them and some of the patients… However… it is time already … to move onto what I came out here to do…

Masalama Radiation Clinic… I’ll just be a couple floors above you now 😀

Nerd Alert: Can’t wait to start learning heaps of new things again!! I seriously love cancer care… it’s fascinating!! I could talk about it for ages… but I won’t bore you with my jabber of that at the moment.

So… enjoy this video… love the app… it had myself and my coworker Vivian, from back home, laughing hysterically for ages at work!! Stress relief!!

Enjoy…

 

Breast Cancer Awareness Day

October 21, 2014

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month… especially in North America. Follow the link below to learn more about how you can become more aware about Breast Cancer.

http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-awareness-month

Today is Breast Cancer Awareness Day at KFSH&RC

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Breast Cancer is a devastating disease that affects many women and also men all around the world. It is a disease that the majority of us can relate to as we have most likely somehow been affected by it, whether we ourselves have had breast cancer, our mother, auntie, sister, friend, grandmother… or maybe we are cancer nurses and have had significant exposure to the impact of breast cancer on individuals and their families. It is one of the leading causes of cancer related deaths worldwide, and although there have been significant advances made in the treatment of breast cancer, it is still a devastating disease.

In Saudi Arabia, breast cancer rates are high and similar to what they are in the rest of the world. However, the average age of diagnosis of Breast Cancer for women in Saudi Arabia is age 48 years old, an entire decade earlier than in North America! http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3370407/

One significant disadvantage is a lack or primary care and awareness about breast cancer and how to detect it early. Many women do not have a family doctor. They are not regularly assessed for their risk. Many women are unaware of how to perform breast self exams. There is no regular screening program either where women of a certain age regularly receive mammograms.

This all leads to later detection where the disease is further advanced and treatment options are not as easy or as simple as they are when the cancer is detected at a very early stage.

However, advances are being made in educating the public. And days like today, breast cancer awareness days, help to advance knowledge about Breast Cancer among women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And hopefully, one day there will be excellent screening programs in place for women and cancers will be detected more frequently at an early stage rather than at a more advanced stage.

Follow this link below to read an article from the Middle East Journal of Scientific Research… “A Review on Breast Cancer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”

http://www.idosi.org/mejsr/mejsr14%284%2913/14.pdf.

I hope one day women and men around the world will be fully aware of their risks,  and pray that one day everyone will have equal opportunites for monitoring for this terrible disease and treatment if required. I wish I was positive enough to believe that one day there will be a cure for this deadly disease, but the realist in me says that it is impossible as genetics deteriorate and we continue to lead unhealthy lives.

So please, be responsible for your heath. Do your BSE’s regularly (Breast Self Exams)… eat healthy… a diet with minimal fats and high in nutrients and colorful fruits and veggies containing heaps of antioxidants (cancer fighting molecules)… and exercise regularly! These things might not prevent you from getting breast cancer, but at least you know that they are less likely to be a factor in the development of cancer.

Much love to you all… I pray you are never affected by this terrible disease!

Love from your Oncology Nurse in Saudi Arabia…

xo

Annemarie

The Globe = Princess Life

October  2014

The Globe. The beautiful shining ball near the top of Faisaliyah Tower. The restuarant that every expat in Riyadh must try at some point in their lifetime in Riyadh. The ultimate view of the Riyadh skyline.

On a whim, my friend Sarah and I decided to go to the Globe for dinner one night as we had nothing else to do and both of us were dying to check it out for ourselves! Fortunately, it was during Hajj, so the restaurant was quiet and we were easily able to get a reservation for that same night.

We were dropped off at the base of Faisaliyah tower… whisked up an elevator that was swayed every so slightly… to one of the highest floors… where we stepped out of the elevator and into another open, glass elevator that whisked us up a couple more floors into the Globe.

The elevator doors opened and in front of us lay the beautiful, shining, sparkling city of Riyadh in all its glory. It was absolutely breathtaking!!!

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The restaurant was quite dark, highlighting the beauty of the Riyadh skyline.

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The service was absolutely phenomenal. We felt pampered from the moment we arrived at the restaurant. We were ushered to seats on the edge of the floor, near the outside of the Globe so we had an unobstructed view of the city.

image We ordered delicious (non-alocholic) drinks… and recieved beautiful qail egg appetizers (on the house) to start… along with a mound of beautiful fresh bread!

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I also savoured a beautifully smooth and creamy potato soup with salmon…

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Followed by a melt-in-your-mouth duck fois gras…

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The main course was absolutely delectable. I had the best roast lamb I’ve ever had in my life!!!!! Crusted with herbs and pistachios… it was incredible!!

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And then to finish… a beautiful creme brulee and specialty coffee (unfortunately non-alcoholic again).

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Every mouthful was an absolute ecstasy! My taste buds were singing. Every sense was overwhelmed. The beautiful view. The gentle classical music in the background. The overwhelmingly gorgeous tastes of the food. And enjoying it all with my lovely friend Sarah who was enjoying it all just as much as me.

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After our meal, the host, who was supremely friendly and helpful, offered us a table up in the cigar lounge (one floor up at the very top of the Globe) so we could linger a while longer. Unfortunately all the tables were full, so instead he took us down to the observation deck so we could look out over the city and even took pictures for us!!!

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After we’d had our fill of the beautiful view… and the strong winds, he took us back up to the Globe and presented us with beautiful grape juice cocktails and Saudi coffee while we waited for our driver to come pick us up.

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It was an absolutely phenomenal experience. Next time will most likely be different as the view the first time, is definitely what makes the experience so much more special. But… I know I will thoroughly enjoy every time that I visit this place!! Next time for high tea perhaps?!

As a note… the Globe is really expensive… it’s not an every weekend kind of place to go to… but it is definitely worth it to go check it out as it’s more than just food… it’s the whole experience!!! More “reviews” of great Riyadh restaurants to come… but for now… check out Blue Abaya’s post on the top 10 restaurants in Riyadh!

Now for the next chapter in princess life… (Just kidding… I’m no princess!! But I do feel like I’m living a dream sometimes here!!!)

Masalaam

xo

annemarie

Racing with the Riyadh Road Runners

October 10, 2014

Today… I ran my first race since high school (and high school didn’t count because I wasn’t a runner and was coerced into running a 1600 meter run for track & field because no one else wanted to do it!)

So… I’d heard about Riyadh’s running clubs before I arrived in the country and had been looking forward to joining one… as since high school I have turned into a bit of a runner…

And I finally joined the group… the Riyadh Road Runners! Now, I thought it was a social running club… but it’s not. This is a group of highly competitive and ridiculously fast individuals!!

But a challenge is good right??!?!

And I can’t believe I’m running in the desert! At home I’m one of those people who “can’t run” as soon as the temperature is above 20 degrees… or below 10. (That might be a bit of an exaggeration… haha)

So, I woke up early on the weekend… even stayed in on Thursday night so I’d be fit to run Friday morning… at 8am! Drove out a lovely compound about 30minutes from the hospital… with a couple girls… pumped to be running our first race of the “season!”

Pre race selfie:

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It was a beautiful day… cool in the morning… but it rapidly got warmer once the sun was fully out and we were running!

The race co-ordinators did a great job of getting everyone totally pumped up at the starting line… we would run 4 laps of the compound in order to run the full 10km race.

Unfortunately I was just getting over a nasty cold, so my running game wasn’t as on par as it could have been! But it was still heaps of fun!! I raced like a mad woman for the last couple hundred meters to the finish line!! (Not my actual time listed below… Just FYI :D)

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It was amazing!!! I was so energetic and excited and riding a bit of a runners high after I finished that race!! I’m not a morning runner usually… but it’s a beautiful thing to get up so early in the morning and get a good run in!!!

The girls I ran with are amazing as well… they’re so inspiring and motivating and encouraging! I thoroughly enjoyed running this race with them!

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So… first race was a success… can’t wait for the next one!!!

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As a side note… the pool here is lovely!! A dip after the race would have been gorgeous!! Next time definitely!!

imageAnd I can’t believe it’s October already and things are starting to get chilly at home and we’re still loving 30+ degree weather every day and heaps of sunshine!!! I do love this weather here!!!! Not missing the rain or the cold at all!!

Anyways… more to come on the RRR!! 😀 Many more races to be done!

xo

Annemarie

Expat Thanksgiving Days

October 13, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all my Canadian friends celebrating with me… and to all my friends around the world… regardless of whether you celebrate this day or not.

We have so much to be thankful for in this life and I think it is amazing to have a day set aside specifically to give thanks!

Back home…. I’d be going to church in the morning with my family and then enjoying a massive Thanksgiving dinner with my dad’s side of the family… usually 20-40 people!! Ham… Turkey…. mashed potatoes… sweet potatoes… veggies… salads… pumpkin pie… WINE!!! Ohhh I’m absolutely salivating now…

Unfortunately… no family dinner today for me. At least not with my “blood family”.

Instead… I get to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with some of my amazing new friends out here in Riyadh… and that’s something to be thankful for for sure!

I get 2 Thanksgiving dinners actually. And I got to play street hockey on Canadian Thanksgiving Day yet too!! (Or Thanksgiving weekend I should clarify!) How typically Canadian is that?!!! It was amazing!!

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On October 13, actual Thanksgiving Day, I went out for dinner with my friend Sarah (who is also Canadian) to a little French restuarant and had a completely non-typical Thanksgiving dinner… pasta and cake and beautiful non-alcoholic cocktails… It was a cute place with little book nooks and chandeliers and pretty colored walls…

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And to top it all off… we discovered Tim Hortons #2 in Riyadh!! On Tahlia Street (which is pretty crazy close to the hospital)… we definitely enjoyed a Double Double after dinner!!! Happy Canadian Thanksgiving Day to us!!!

imageBut the best Thanksgiving dinner was at Riyadh village… proper dinner. The weekend before Thanksgiving Day. With Turkey and mashed potatoes and veggies and cranberrry jelly… and pumpkin pie!!!

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All with a bunch of really good friends… sipping beverages around the pool… chatting and relaxing and getting to know each other a little bit more…imageimage

And then singing out hearts out on the car ride home… it was beautiful!!!

While I miss my family back home terribly on a special day like today… I am so extremely grateful to have this opportunity to be out in Saudi Arabia, immersed in a culture so completely unfamiliar to mine and loving it! Learning so many new things in my job… Learning a new language… Meeting new people daily from all walks of life and countries all around the world… Having heaps of fun… Playing sports I’ve never played before in my life and having a great time… Like hockey… Running with some really cool people (Had my first race this weekend actually!!!) … and having the opportunity to travel the world… it really is incredible!!! And most of all… I am so thankful to have the support of my family back home. For them to love me and to feel that love even across the distance and to know that they’re always there for me no matter what. I am truly blessed!!!

As we would say here in Saudi Arabia… Alhumdulillah (Thanks be to God).

As Christians we say, “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 136:1 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Ephesians 5:20

A very happy belated Thanksgiving Day to anyone reading this… I hope that every day is a day you’re thankful for… and I hope that each day is filled with beauty and light, hope and love!

Much love…

Annemarie

First Diplomatic Quarters Walk About

October 11, 2014

Tonight, I went for my first walk about in the Diplomatic Quarters. I can’t believe I’ve been in Riyadh for well over a month… and living so close to these beautiful walking trails.

I knew they existed… but wasn’t sure exactly how to access them once in the Diplomatic Quarters. So… a friend invited myself and Vivian along to go for an evening walk in the DQ and to introduce us to the trails.

I should probably explain a bit about the DQ before I carry on further… The Diplomatic Quarters are basically like a little city/town inside the big city of Riyadh. It is were the vast majority of embassies are located as well as housing for embassy staff and some other priviledged individuals. I’ve also heard rumors that eventually there will be a hospital located inside the DQ also! It is quite a desirable place for many people to live, as it is a bit of a free zone… there are less restrictions. Men and women can socialize in public. Women aren’t required to wear abayas. There are some coffee shops and restaurants and a grocery store…  Even a Starbucks!!! Plenty of green space and parks. And it is all surrounded by a fairly high wall/barrier.  And along the perimeter of the DQ, the are a bunch of trails you can run… some are fairly flat… some are really quite hilly with treacherous dips and pot holes that are ideal for twisting an ankle… or for seriously strengthening your ankles and just generally improving your fitness!! Anyways… here’s a map… me and the DQ… pretty close… pretty awesome!!

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So… going  back to my first run/walk along the trails in the DQ. It was a beautiful balmy evening… not too hot… but very comfortable. Dark. Because the sun sets so early here now!!

We started out by Starbucks, and walked down the road… across an empty lot… and over another road to the beginning of a trail (not sure if I’ll ever find it again on my own)

Anyways. I was a really nice walk!!! Too dark to get many pictures of it all… but someday soon I’ll walk it in the daytime to give you a better idea of what it’s like!

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It’s also wonderful that this is a bit of a free zone so we can go abaya-less and not worry about getting in any sort of trouble… relatively speaking anyways.

We perched ourselves on the top of a rock wall that lines the barrier wall at one point… and has an beautiful view overlooking the city skyline and some princes home. Apparently.

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So… loved my first walk in the DQ!!! Great company… good to get outside in the “fresh” air…

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Since this post is written extremely retrospectively (it’s now the beginning of December)… I’ve actually joined a running group… a few girls… and we go run in the DQ several times a week along various paths… It’s absolutely a wonderful way to destress after a day at work… the fresh air is so good for us… and it’s great cardio running up and down the somewhat hilly terrain of the paths surrounding the DQ.  Plus the girls are absolutely wonderful and the encouragement and support we give each other as we go along is amazing!!!

Also… the temperatures are gorgeous now for running out-doors… I’m already dreading the day when it gets so hot that running outside is impossible… regardless of the time of day!

But… that’s a ways off yet!! Thankfully.

Anyways… More to come… a whole lot more!

Xo

Annemarie