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Preparing for Three Months Abroad for a Clinical Trial

For anyone who has prepared for a long term trip away from home, no matter the reason, you know that it can be daunting. There are so many things to consider; anything from “who will take care of the dogs?” to “how do I handle health insurance?”. This becomes even more challenging when you have less than two weeks to prepare and the destination is on a different continent, almost 10,000 miles away from home.

Just under a year ago, my husband received a cancer diagnosis, one he had hoped he’d never hear again after his battle five years prior. This was my first time experiencing anything like this, as we had only met and married two and a half years after his last treatment had ended. As you can imagine after receiving this news, our world came crashing down. The fear that it had returned, what that meant from a treatment perspective and how this would impact our family, his son (our) son, was just so overwhelming.

Getting through the first six months of 2018 was no easy feat, as I watched my loving husband endure pain, anxiety and sickness of a caliber I had hoped he would never have to endure. The year started off with surgery then lead into radiation and chemotherapy. He was tired, weak and depressed… so was I. Everything we had hoped and planned for, came to a screeching hault and our focus became about getting him through this and on the other side of cancer…We did!

It has now been over five months since his treatment ended and a follow-up scan, showed promise with no signs of cancer. While standard of care prescribes that he should have follow-up scans every three months, he has made it clear he is not waiting to take action. He is going to do everything in his power to ensure he has left no stone unturned to mitigate the chance of a repeat diagnosis. While he has a team of the best doctors, oncologists and radiation oncologists in the world, he has decided that he also has the power to impact his future.

With that, after a great deal of research and much deliberation, he had decided to enroll in a clinical trial in Australia. This was a very personal decision, one that I could do nothing more than support, no matter what he decided. Everything had moved very fast in terms of confirming his eligibility and then timing of his first visit. All this time, I had assumed I would be taking care of our “life” at home while he was going through this tremendous experience, solo.

In a very cosmic turn of events, I had subsequently and recently lost my job due to corporate restructure. There was now no question, “I am going with him”. This is what went through my mind along with a rush of emotion over how the universe has a unique way of providing for you, even when it isn’t always apparent or easy.

We are now only days away from leaving for our long trip. There have been so many important things to account for and consider over these past two weeks.

For anyone in this same situation, I recommend creating a checklist. As simple as that sounds, it really does make a difference. This is such an emotional time, filled with excitement so it’s easy to miss the little things. We are very fortunate that our son’s mother is going to keep him while we are overseas. While it is very difficult for us to be away from him, there is no better place for him to be.


  • Ask questions and review all informed consents for the trial- Be sure you have a general schedule and are clear on how you will be cared for during the trial. What costs will and will not be covered?
  • Finding a place to stay-  There are various services and websites available that make it easy for you to find the right place within your budget.
  • Enlisting friends and family to house-sit while you are away- Taking care of plants, collecting mail, ensuring the pipes don’t freeze, during winter months and various other things to ensure your home is covered.
  • Planning for pet care- If you are as lucky as I am, loved ones can really help with this. If you are not as fortunate for any number of reasons, there are so many pet sitting services available as well as long term boarding.
  • Ensuring that you have the proper documentation for international travel and that you are aware of any restrictions on the length of your visit.
  • Be sure to have all doctor check-ups, vaccinations and shots and be sure to bring medications for the length of your trip.
  • Health Insurance- Check on your health plan. There are options to get trip insurance that will cover medical expenses and trip interruption or loss.
  • Enable international plan on your mobile phone. Another option is to purchase a SIM card locally.
  • Notify your credit card company and bank of your wearabouts. Many banks include fraud alerts and will freeze your card in the event of suspicious activity.
  • Freeze or hold any gym memberships or other club memberships while you are away.
  • Research any items that might be hard to find at your destination and try to pack them ahead of time. You may also have the option of relying on your family to send care packages.

Last but not least, lean on your family and friends. They want to help. I can speak from experience, that this matters. Preparing for this trip has really shown me how fortunate I am to have such loving and caring people in my life.

Now I am able to focus on my husband, his health and well being and maybe experience something spectacular along the way. Life surely is a journey and I am grateful to be able to take the journey with him.

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