LIVE from Blood and Marrow Transplantation Annual Congress, Spain | Leukaemia Foundation

LIVE from Blood and Marrow Transplantation Annual Congress, Spain

Blood and Marrow Transplantation Annual Congress

Hi, my name is Elise Button and I am a haematology nurse from the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. I’m writing from the Blood and Marrow Transplantation Annual Congress.

I was awarded the inagurual Adem Crosby Haematology Nursing Award in 2014 to attend the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation Annual Congress 2016, which is this year being held in the beautiful city of Valencia, Spain. On each of the four days of the congress I will share with you a highlight of my day (and a few photos I have taken of the city).

Day 4

Today was the final day of the congress and I learnt about survivorship care of patients post-transplant. There is a new push in healthcare to ensure we’re providing adequate care for patients in the months and years after they receive a transplant to help them get their life back to normal, or a new normal.

I’m so grateful to Team Adem and the Leukaemia Foundation for helping me to be here. It has been a wonderful opportunity to learn so much and meet new people. I have made connections with healthcare professionals from Italy, UK and Croatia. I have gained experience presenting at an international conference and I have learnt so much information that I am able to take back to Australia and use in my role as a Cancer Care Nurse Researcher and PhD student.

Attending this conference has definitely helped me to progress my professional development, but will also help me to improve the care of haematology patients in Queensland directly (through impacting patient care at my hospital) and indirectly (by furthering my research).

Thanks for reading! That’s all for me.

Day 3

The morning session on day 3 of the congress was a fascinating presentation by a doctor and nurse from the UK talking about the evolution of palliative care. They explained the important role of palliative care teams in supporting haematology patients, and people receiving transplants in terms of symptom management. Palliative care teams are EXPERTS at treating pain, nausea and even mucositis and don’t just help people when they are nearing the end of life anymore. For this reason, many palliative care teams in the UK and USA are changing their name to the ‘Supportive Care Team’, because they can help support the patient throughout their entire treatment journey and want to be called on earlier to help people with difficult symptoms.

In the afternoon I gave a presentation – my first at an international conference! I was so nervous! But the crowd was so supportive and very interested in my chosen topic, which was on Advance Care Planning before a bone marrow transplant. This refers to discussions with those close to you and your healthcare team about the potential to become very sick and organising what sort of care you would want if you were too sick to participate in decision making.

It’s a way for patients to have control over their healthcare and for professionals to know what is important to someone. I performed a comprehensive review of the literature on this topic and found most patients and families reported that it helped to relieve worry and burden if they had these discussions before a transplant. The literature showed having these difficult conversations didn’t lead to any negative clinical outcomes during and post the transplant.

There is only one day remaining at the conference and I’m looking forward to presentations tomorrow about survivorship and how to support people in the post transplant phase.

Day 2

Orange tree in Valencia

Hello again from European Blood and Marrow Transplant Congress in Valencia, Spain. Day two of the congress was jam packed with more fantastic speakers. I must say, I truly admire the presenters who speak in a second language to their own. Many of the presenters have expressed how nervous they are to be speaking in English! Their participation in the congress truly demonstrates their dedication to sharing knowledge and improving care for people with a haematological cancers. Today we learnt about a range of topics including interpreting blood results, care of mucositis and graft versus host disease.

The presentation I found the most interesting was delivered by a nurse-scientist-researcher from the Netherlands who spoke on the evolving role of the transplant nurse. He reminded us that as nurses we often find inadequacies in the healthcare system and we have a responsibility to our patients to generate evidence to address these issues. It was inspiring to hear how nursing roles are advancing in the transplant setting internationally to provide better care for patients and their families.

Apart from enjoying the conference, I’ve also found a little time to explore the city of Valencia as the sun doesn’t set until almost 9pm! There are many beautiful historic buildings in the old town, particularly the cathedral and basilica. No surprises here, but there are gorgeous green trees laden with big juicy oranges (and other types of citrus) in public places throughout the city. I picked one for breakfast!

That’s all from me tonight. I’m off to bed early as I have my presentation tomorrow, feeling nervous but excited! Until tomorrow, over and out.

Day 1

Valencia city

Today kicked off proceedings.

At first I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the gathering (approximately 5000 attendees!) but as soon as I sat down in the lecture rooms I felt right at home. Despite being a world away and being presented by people from so many different countries, the nursing education sessions were so similar to those taught in Australia. It’s great to know we’re keeping up with world standards and interesting that we are having the same issues and working on the same problems to help improve care for transplant patients.

For me, the highlight of the day was a presentation by a haematologist who chose the profession after his own battle with a haematological disorder and subsequent stem cell transplant.

He spoke about what it was like to experience the crippling symptoms, gruelling treatment, serious complications, and sadness at losing friends along the way. But he also spoke about the overwhelming happiness he felt when he found a transplant donor and great appreciation he feels for his donor. He’s now 10 years post transplant and enjoys being able to care for transplant patients everyday.

He reminded everyone of the importance of donating blood and being on donor registry for stem cells. He said “saving another person’s life is one of the most important things you can do”. He went on to say that when you save someone’s life by donating blood or stem cells, you aren’t just saving their life but also the life of their family. It was a powerful message and a good reminder about the most important thing for all healthcare professionals: the patient and their family.

I’m looking forward to a fantastic day tomorrow. Stay tuned for another update. Adios – that’s ‘goodbye’ in Spanish!

Meet Elise!

The $5,000 Adem Crosby Haematology Nursing Award is open to any registered nurse caring for haematology/oncology patients in Queensland. Jointly supported by Team Adem and the Leukaemia Foundation, the award supports self-development and enhanced expertise in caring for blood cancer and other oncology patients.


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