Ten Tips for Holiday Travel for Cancer Patients
Whether for vacation, work or to spend time with distant friends and relatives, any travel requires planning. For cancer patients, it often requires extra planning.
“In general, we say if our patients are feeling up to it and they get the sign-off from their medical team, we absolutely encourage them to take planned trips,” says UW Carbone Cancer Center’s chemotherapy clinic coordinator Meredith Winkelhake, RN, BSN, OCN.
With the holiday season around the corner, Winkelhake gives some tips on how to ensure safer, easier travel for cancer patients. These are generalized tips, so please check with your care team about your travel plans as they relate to your condition and/or treatment.
Cancer Patients Need to Plan Ahead When Traveling
1. Notify your provider in advance that you are taking a trip, and get them to sign off on it. If you or they have any concerns, they can hopefully help you work around them. Most providers recommend that you do not start a brand new treatment or chemotherapy, whether oral or an infusion, in the same week you plan to travel. Often treatments can be scheduled around your travel plans.
2. Plan ahead for your destination. Make sure you know where the nearest hospital, emergency room or cancer center is located. When possible, be aware of which facilities are within your insurance network.
3. Make sure you have enough medical supplies, such as oral chemotherapy or pain and nausea medications. And, be sure to bring extra, in case you lose them.
4. If you are flying, contact your airline to let them know if you are on oxygen or about any special needs you may have during the flight.
5. Reduce your risk of infection with diligent handwashing. The importance of handwashing cannot be emphasized enough! Also, check with your medical team to see if they recommend you wear a mask on a plane, train or anywhere you will be in close quarters with many people for an extended period of time.
6. Have a letter from your physician about your condition, your medications and any implanted devices, such as ports. While medical devices rarely set something off at security checkpoints, a letter from your provider can be shown to security screeners. There are also ID cards that you may have received with your port or other medical implanted device that are good to keep with you.
7. Check immunization needs for your destination, and ask if you are able to receive these immunizations. Check with your provider to ensure these won’t interfere with any treatments you are on, and that they are safe for you to receive.
8. If you experience symptoms like high fevers, increased pain, nausea, or vomiting, you should seek medical attention right away.
9. Protect yourself from the sun and stay hydrated. This is especially important for patients receiving certain chemotherapy treatments, because some can make you more sensitive to heat and sun. Avoid mid-day sun exposure if you can, and pack a good broad-spectrum sunscreen or sunblock, brimmed hat, long-sleeved clothing and sunglasses if you plan to be outside much in a warm, sunny location.
10. Get plenty of rest and go at your own pace. The most important thing is to take care of yourself and listen to your body, so you can enjoy your trip to its fullest!
Date Published: 11/08/2017