Singapore and WCLC 2023

Posted on: Thu, 09/21/2023 - 20:45 By: journeyadmin
Rendition of a Singaporean orchid in watercoulour.


I don't recommend taking an exotic international trip two days after the 3 day novel contest ends.

This will be the fourth year I have written a novella in the 3 day contest. Each time it truly is an amazing experience. I started on Saturday morning with an idea, a character or two, and a rough plot (maybe), and then put my fingers to the keyboard. There is something about the boundaries and pressure of time that keep the fingers moving.

This year was no exception. I stuck to my main characters from last year's novel: an RCMP homicide investigator; and his wife, a forensic anthropologist specializing in arson investigations. They tried to sort out who had killed a young Indigenous woman found after a wildfire had passed through. The novel is inspired by my recent visit to the Cypress Hills and some past experiences with land claims and reconciliation. Namely, my involvement as a facilitator with the Lac La Ronge Band land claims and the regional land use plan. The novel explores the transformation of a racist RCMP member to become a more understanding person.

When I began writing, I had no idea who the victim would be or who the actual perpetrator of the murder would be. As words flowed onto the page, the story slowly emerged. Beginning with an encounter with a server, overlaid with all the prejudices that can be brought to the table (pun intended) and ending with her guiding the RCMP member in his journey of self discovery. Are there rough edges to the story? Absolutely. There are some beautiful passages (in my obviously biased opinion) that describe some of the natural surroundings and the experience of sweat lodge.

Of course when I focused on writing like that I woke on Tuesday morning with an overflowing inbox; and a lot of planning and packing that needed to be finished for my trip to Singapore on Thursday.

I managed to submit my once-edited novel late on Wednesday and then finished packing. It is probably a sign of the packing rush that the protein bar snacks that I had made a special trip to Costco for, stayed in the cupboard. But, that was the only thing. My deepest fear of forgetting my medication or passport didn't materialize.

So, on Thursday morning I embarked on a fourteen-hour flight to Changi airport, Singapore. The trip wasn't nearly as difficult as I had envisioned. I travelled with an advocate from Calgary, and somehow the time flew by (pun totally intended.) I didn't sleep as much as I should have. So, I spent the first four days battling jet-lag. It manifested itself in brain fog at the most inconvenient times. But, with judicious naps and one early night my sleep got back on track.

Highlights of the four day conference:

  • Meeting with the ILCN (International Lung Cancer News) editorial board.
  • A hallway hug with Dr Narjust Flores - Twitter superstar oncologist.
  • Delivery of the mini oral presentation on behalf of the Breathe Hope Research Group. 
  • Responding to the four presentations in the Presidential Symposium on behalf of patients in the Daily Press Briefing.
  • Connections with patient research advocates from around the world and meaningful interactions with them.
  • Deep dive into the recent scientific discoveries around lung cancer and, in particular, the EGFR mutation that I have.

Then, there was Singapore itself. The jet-lag may have been enhanced by going out for supper the first night to a street hawkers market. I fell in love with the food (though I almost fell asleep into it.) A little group of us ordered four different dishes and then shared. Pad thai, salted egg chicken, chili crab and chicken satay with peanut sauce. Of course discovering soursop drink, just took me back to another tropical country that I miss, Panama.

Another old friend took me to another hawker's market where the hit movie "Crazy Rich Asians" was shot. We sampled salted egg prawns and chili stingray with noodles and spiced green beans. Apparently, according to my friend (who is from Hong Kong,} my enjoyment of durian makes me "an honorary Asian." Described by one of my fellow travellers who tasted it on another occasion, as "a cross between wall paper paste, old sweaty shoes and ass," I found its slightly astringent flavour, delicious.

We took one evening to visit the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo. The zoo at night was fabulous.

The challenge of paying for the experience was not so much. My Visa card wanted a confirmation by text that it was me who was using it. Unfortunately I wasn't able to receive their text. All this, despite me advising Visa and my credit union that I was travelling. I tried an American debit card that I still carry - and promptly received an email telling me that someone was using my card in Singapore, and that my card had been locked to prevent further fraud. Security - yes. Usefulness - no.

Fortunately, I had had the foresight to get a little cash for travel early in the trip and so, that came in handy.

On the last day, we had some freedom to explore. A group of us went to Little India. It reminded me of some of the malls here in Surrey. It was a mixture of tailors, jewellers, and exotic food stores with historic architecture reflective of the culture. It was fascinating. I spent in the hotel pool.

My travelling companion and I were two of the last to leave the conference. We had the evening free to explore Gardens on the Bay. The orchid show was just ending. I found them so attractive... I had to stop taking pictures because my phone was running out of battery. This, despite starting with my phone fully charged. A light show on the bay ended our evening.

We needed the remaining battery to access the subway to return to our hotel. Then after a short nap, I left for the airport at 3 AM to catch our 7 AM flight. Our concierge had suggested booking a taxi As it turned out, it was good advice. The hotel was sealed off from its surroundings by the F1 race happening on the weekend. The booking allowed for a special pass for the cab. Too soon, this wonderful adventure was over.

I came away enthused by the possibilities for change. At the same time, I was overwhelmed by all the work that still needs to be done.

In other news, I'm running my 5K in the the CIBC Run for the Cure on Oct 1st. I was asked this week to speak as a patient survivor at the event. They have been looking for a male breast cancer patient for 15 years. I did tell them that I will be speaking to lung cancer as well and they were fine with that as long as I remember the focus is breast cancer.

If you wish to donate here is the CIBC Run for the Cure link

Thanks in advance for your generous support and your continued prayers.