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Holiday Travel for Cancer Patients

detroit-airport-at-6am-1563949Holidays are great for spending time with loved ones, especially when you have been living with a cancer diagnosis and/or treatment. Loving support from family and friends can be another kind of medicine for your psyche and soul. Building memories through travel and shared times is important for most people, but especially when living with cancer. Remember that it is okay to do less in preparation and to participate more in the actual joys of interacting.

As Thanksgiving approaches and holiday travel becomes a priority for many people, it is a great opportunity to learn how to take extra steps in order to avoid getting sick. This is especially important for cancer patients due to medical treatments that can compromise the immune system. As many people know, traveling makes patients more vulnerable to catching a cold which can sometimes become pneumonia or bronchitis. However, if your physician has cleared you to travel, then go for it!

Follow these recommendations to improve your chances of a well and enjoyable holiday season:

  • Consult your oncology team to make sure you are healthy enough to fly. Ask them to provide written documentation for your condition. You should also carry a list of emergency contact numbers.
  • Bring an extra prescription for all medications in case your trip is unexpectedly extended. Ask your oncologist if he/she has any suggested cancer care providers or hospitals in the area you are visiting just as a precaution.
  • Consider getting travel insurance for your flight in case you are not able to take your trip last minute.
  • Remember to frequently wash your hands with soap and water. Hand sanitizer is a good alternative to help kill germs.
  • If you have lymphedema, swelling in the limbs may worsen with changes in air pressure while on your flight. Try getting up once an hour to improve circulation and drink plenty of water. Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, which may make you feel bloated. If you have a compression garment, remember to wear it on your flight. Moving around regularly also decreases the chance of developing a blood clot, so take a stroll down the aisle especially on lengthy trips.
  • If possible, travel with a buddy who can help carry your luggage and navigate the airport. Take advantage of services provided by airlines and airports to help manage your energy for the important things and simplify the screening process.
  • Request an aisle seat or one close to a restroom if getting sick during the flight is a concern.

Holidays are great for spending time with loved ones. Do not let the fears get in the way of the experiences that fill you with meaning and joy. Taking these extra steps should allow you to focus on making the most of your time away from home. There is never any guarantee that you can avoid additional illnesses, no matter where you are, but it doesn’t hurt to put some effort into protecting your wellness and making the trip and holidays that much more enjoyable.

May the holidays bring you joy and safe travels!

For a more detailed explanation on steps to take to staying healthy this holiday season from Cancer.Net, go to: http://www.cancer.net/blog/2014-07/traveling-cancer

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