Traveling with cancer

Viajar durante el proceso de cáncer

Traveling with cancer

Travel is possible for most patients with cancer. Patients can travel if their condition is stable or even if they are in the middle of treatment. However, before you go, check with your oncologist. Cancer itself does not prevent us from being able to travel.

Intervals between chemotherapy cycles or when finishing radiation therapy is a good time to plan a trip. The patient regains his or her normal life, and this return to normal allows him or her to enjoy him or herself more. Furthermore, vacation has been shown to be of great therapeutic value to both the patient and those around him/her.

Is there anything I should keep in mind?

Before you start any trip, you must anticipate some important aspects that will allow you to enjoy your journey safely and comfortably:

  • Make an appointment with your oncologist. He or she is a professional and will give you the best advice for your specific situations and disease. For example:
    • For a patient who has undergone a mastectomy with removal of lymph nodes and is going to travel by plane, the use of a compression sleeve on the arm is recommended to alleviate inflammation and the resulting pain.
    • Many cancer-related treatments increase the risk of thrombosis. For long trips, we recommend getting up to walk every hour to get your blood flowing.
  • All destination types are equally good, hit the beach or the mountains. Just make sure to do some research on the hospitals and clinics close to your holiday destination. In case of an emergency, you will be better equipped to take action.
  • Before you leave, check with your health insurance to make sure you are covered at your travel destination and under what conditions.
  • Be especially careful with the sun since cancer treatment increases skin sensitivity. Avoid prolonged sun exposure and use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
  • If your immune system has been weakened by the disease, chemotherapy or other medicines or treatment to fight cancer, a surgical mask is recommended. We all know, and more so with the situation we have lived through over the past years, that masks provide strong protection against airborne viruses and bacteria, especially in enclosed spaces.

What should I bring with me?

  • Be sure to bring a copy of your medical records: your diagnosis, treatment, and any medicines you are currently taking. If you need medical support during your trip, this information is very important for the health center and may be difficult to access if you are in another country or even another autonomous community.
  • Take the phone numbers of your medical team with you to contact them if necessary.
  • Carefully prepare all the medication you usually need and do not forget it for your trip. Include your radiation therapy lotions if necessary.
  • Bring your prescriptions to fill your medicines, and some extra as a precaution.
  • If you have an implantable device (pacemaker, insulin pump, pain medication pump, spinal stimulator, chemotherapy port, etc.), you should present the identification card that was given to you on the day the implant was inserted. You may be asked for it at airport checkpoints.
  • In addition to the standard generic drugs, such as ibuprofen, paracetamol or aspirin, pack antidiarrheal drugs and oral saline solution for rehydration, or antinauseants, such as tablets, chewing gums or suppositories, for dizziness.
  • You might also want to take an antiseptic with you (chlorhexidine, povidone, etc.), gauze and bandages to dress any small cuts and wounds.

Traveling with cancer is possible when the necessary precautions are taken. In all cases, your oncologist has the final say. Heed their advice, even if you need to delay your trip until a better time when you will be able to enjoy it more.

Source: Quiron Salud, EFE Salud

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