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[Cancer, Personal]

[cancer|personal] The high cost of being in Bethesda – looking for help

We’re running into some significant planning and budget issues as we consider the trials here at NIH. I could use some help of the thinking kind, especially if you live in the Baltimore/Washington area.

Any trial at NIH requires me to spend time in Bethesda, Maryland. They provide financial assistance for patient airfare, and a nominal daily stipend, but that doesn’t account for airfares for anyone who comes with me, and the stipend only covers about 25% of the daily cost of being here. As at least one trial requires me being here about 2.5 to 3 weeks per month for the first few months, this gets expensive very fast. Depending on the study, somewhere between $3,000 and $7,000 per month if we do everything at rack rate — airfare, rental car, hotel.

We’re looking at options. The American Cancer Society has several programs for reduced price or free lodging in the area for patients receiving treatment. As of yet, I have no idea what the availability is, or whether I qualify. We’ll be investigating that tomorrow.

This boils down to four issues: airfare, lodging, vehicle, meals. Airfare we can cover at least for now (among other things, I do have tons of frequent flier miles). Meals are more or less a wash, as I eat whether I’m here or in Portland, though being here involves eating out more, and restaurants seem to be more expensive.

Regarding lodging, does anyone have any suggestions for cost-effective short-to-medium term housing? I can’t sign anything more than a month-to-month lease, because I have no idea how long any study will last for me. I could wash out in month one, or could go on for many months. Or if you have a mother-in-law unit or a vacant rental property that we might discuss the use of, please let me know. (We need two bedrooms with a bathroom and kitchen.)

Regarding a vehicle, I am considering buying a cheap used car in Portland and having it brought out here. A friend has already volunteered to drive it cross-country. Also possible to buy a car here, I suppose, but our recent experiences with Maryland’s DMV make me very wary of doing anything like that in this state. But if you have a spare vehicle that I might be able to use intermittently while I’m here, as much as three weeks a month depending on the study protocol, please let me know.

This might turn into a fundraising effort later on, but I’m looking for simpler solutions first. If you have any thoughts, please share them.

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