Traveling with cancer

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For most people, a cancer diagnosis brings the daily routine of life to a grinding halt, at least temporarily. But after the initial shock wears off, many patients strive to resume their everyday activities, including vacation or travel plans.

Being treated for cancer doesn’t necessarily mean cancelling your summer vacation. Many people travel during and after cancer treatment. But it can require a little planning.

Here are some tips to get started.

Talk with your health care team. Make sure your vacation plans won’t interfere with your scheduled treatments. Ask your doctor about any restrictions you might need to consider when you’re travelling.

Airplane and sunshine

Traveling with cancer isn't impossible; it just requires planning.

For example, if you take medications that suppress your immune system, you may need to avoid areas with large crowds. And if your trip is to a destination that requires immunizations, you’ll need to coordinate with your medical team.

Stay safe in the sun. Some cancer treatments, such as antibiotics, chemotherapy, and radiation, can make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays. So apply sunscreen often and wear a hat, sunglasses, and other protective clothing. See more sun safety tips.

Importantly, make sure your sunscreen hasn’t expired!

Bring a folder with helpful information. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to create a full list of your current medications. Make sure you also have your doctor’s contact information (phone number and address). If you have an IV port or other medical device related to treatment, consider asking your doctor for a letter that explains your medical need for such items. This can be helpful if you’ll need to go through security screening at an airport or border crossing.

Check in with your insurance company. Ask your insurer about the type of medical coverage you have when you’re away from home. Find out if care you may need at your destination will be covered — and whether there are any coverage exceptions to be aware of. Be sure to keep your insurance card with you at all times. If you’re worried about coverage at your destination, you may want to invest in travel insurance — but make sure that the policy covers pre-existing medical conditions.

Keep it clean. Wash your hands often when traveling. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wipes to clean items such as table surfaces or utensils. To avoid food-borne bacteria, make sure to eat only well-cooked foods and avoid ice in your beverages.

Perhaps most important, take time to settle in and enjoy your vacation. Give yourself permission to relax, and don’t try to do too much. A good summer getaway should help you recharge your batteries and return home with a fresh outlook.

One comment

  1. Barbara M Govoni says:

    Thanks for the helpful information on traveling. We used this advice last year on our trip to Australia our first time back in two years, due to my Leukemia.
    We are planing another trip back this year in September -October.
    Thank you for using my Photo in the news letter again.
    Barbara Govoni

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