By: Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology
With your doctor’s supervision, outdoor activities like traveling can be very beneficial to your health, well-being and healing while receiving cancer treatment. You may need to take a few precautions when traveling because of a potentially weakened immune system and tendency toward fatigue. But, setting out on vacation this summer can still be enjoyable and safe!
Here are some of our best travel tips (and even a few hacks) for cancer patients.
Always communicate with your care team before planning. Your doctor may have specific restrictions and recommendations to share with you. He or she will determine if it’s safe for you to travel, paying close attention to how being in an airplane or crowded places may impact your health. Your doctor can also provide telehealth options to help manage your well-being and ongoing care while you’re away.
If you’re clear to travel, your medical team may also suggest low-risk destinations that have health regulations in place. Social distancing and masks may not be mandated at your travel destination, but you can discuss with your doctor whether it’s a good idea for you to continue wearing a mask for your safety because you may be more vulnerable to illness and infection.
- Make a few special arrangements.
While in treatment, you may feel tired more quickly than in the past. Call the hotel or resort you plan to stay at in advance to make special arrangements such as a handicap-accessible room. These will typically have automatic door openers, more straightforward floor plans, adjustable height beds, extra safety precautions in bathrooms and wheelchair access. They’re also usually on lower floors and close to the elevator.
- Keep your medical information and medication handy.
In case of emergency, bring a copy of your medical records, including a list of current medications, past treatments and contact information for your medical team. Ensure you have enough medication to last you throughout your trip.
- Maintain your health routines.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of vacation and lose your everyday routine. However, it’s essential to stick to your health routines, especially if you’re on a special diet. Don’t skip meals or miss scheduled medication. Pack healthy snacks to get you through until your next meal, so you don’t find yourself eating the wrong thing. Also, don’t forget to hydrate by drinking plenty of water during your trip.
- Protect yourself.
The summer’s hot weather is uncomfortable for everyone. But if you’re taking certain medications, you may be more sensitive to the heat, which can raise your body temperature and trigger hot flashes. Also, for cancer patients undergoing specific treatments like radiation therapy, the heat can cause a skin reaction.
If you plan to spend time outdoors, protect yourself from the elements. Pack a wide-brimmed hat and wear breathable yet protective clothes. Practice sun safety by applying sunscreen regularly, even if you don’t plan to spend considerable time under the sun. Most importantly, listen to your body and seek medical care if you experience any unusual symptoms.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.