Unfortunately, there was never a chance to travel to Australia but fortunately we kept in touch via email and Twitter. In the meantime, I changed my job to the Gert and Susanna Mayer Foundation in Wuppertal (Germany) which supports childhood cancer research projects but I’ll never lose my interests in research topics like late effects and long-term care and so in August 2018 my dream has finally come true: I could visit Claire Wakefield and her team at the BSU for one week! My first flight for 20 years led me to a distance of more than 20,000 km.
To my own surprise I had no jet lag issues and had a great Sunday for sightseeing. I stood in front of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House which I had only known from television. I am not sure anyone could really understand the meaning of such an emotional moment for me.
My visit began on Monday at the BSU in the “Ethics and Genetics” team. On Tuesday and Wednesday I was in the “Mental Health” team and on Thursday and Friday in the “Health Behaviours” and “Cognition and Education” teams.
During the whole week I took part at team lunches and meetings, practice talks for the Cancer Counselling Professionals Conference, Journal Club, team talks, observed exercise testing of former childhood cancer patients and got informed in detail about each current research project or study.
It was great to visit an amazing city like Sydney but even more amazing were the wonderful people I met in person after being connected for so many years via social media. I have never been so warmly welcomed in one place before. I flew back to Germany with countless impressions after a week in Sydney and at the BSU. I will return. Thanks to everyone who cared for me. There are too many people to be listed here but I would like to mention Claire Wakefield on behalf of her staff.