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by Amy Malczewski, #facingtheissues

When someone mentions the holidays, people start thinking about what they’re most thankful for, which crazy aunt’s house they will be cramming into that year for dinner, and various different travel plans. The holidays are all about being with family, whether near or far. What most people don’t think about, or don’t want to think about, is how they are going to take the baggage of cancer along with them. Traveling with cancer or with a loved on who has cancer can be a stressful, difficult, and even dangerous task if not done properly. Here are a few ways to get over that stress, and enjoy the holidays how they are meant to be!

Number 1 – Always consult with your medical team before taking off.

It is important to include family members and other travel companions in these discussions so they can ask questions, understand your potential needs, and feel comfortable about traveling with you. Take the phone numbers of your health care providers in case you have to reach them while on your trip, and make sure you have a complete list of all medications you are taking, including the dosages, schedules, and the generic names (since these may be marketed under different trade names in other countries).

Get documentation.Have your doctor write a letter on official stationery explaining your condition, treatment regimen, and medications, and always keep it with you. This will also help to explain to security at the airport why you have medications in your bag. It will be clearer to them, fewer questions for you to answer, and allow everything to run more smoothly.

Traveling with cancer or with a loved on who has cancer can be a stressful, difficult, and even dangerous task if not done properly.

Number 2 – Once you’re cleared to travel, be sure to pack all of your prescription medications in your carry-on instead of a checked bag. You can never be quite sure where your luggage will end up!

Number 3 – Remember, long flights pose a risk of blood clots for everyone. Certain cancers, such as lung, stomach, and bowel cancer, and some treatments, such as hormonal therapy for breast cancer, may increase that risk.

Wear loose clothing, walk around the cabin periodically, and do light leg exercises to stimulate blood circulation. Stay hydrated by drinking water and avoiding alcohol. If you have anemia, ask your doctor if you will need additional oxygen to help you adjust to the cabin air pressure. Some doctors may not clear you to fly in this case, too, so again, be sure to talk with your medical team before traveling.

Some General Tips!

  1. Remember to always try to keep a positive attitude.
  2. As with anything in life, traveling can be a stressful time for you, loved ones, and all of the people around you, with or without cancer.
  3. Try to be patient as to not stress yourselves out more.
  4. If people stare or glare at you for taking too long, try to just smile back and wish them well.
  5. Arrive to the airport even earlier than you need to.
  6. Give your loved one the window seat.
  7. This could make them feel more secure and away from germs, and protected from people with large bags that could bump into them.
  8. Carry hand sanitizer with you, again, as well as your medications.
  9. And most importantly, have a happy holiday, and enjoy your family and friends.

 

Additional Resources and sources used for this post

http://www.nccn.org/patients/resources/life_with_cancer/traveling.aspx

http://www.cancer.net/blog/2014-07/traveling-cancer

http://www2.mdanderson.org/cancerwise/2014/02/tips-for-traveling-to-md-anderson-for-cancer-treatment.html