If you are at the beginning of your cancer treatment, the idea of taking a vacation may seem counterintuitive, but it may be an important and even necessary part of maintaining a ‘normal’ life. Here are a few tips on how to navigate such a decision.
It may be possible to get away for a few days during the course of your treatment. All travel plans should be discussed with your oncologist and healthcare providers prior to departure.
If undergoing infusion chemotherapy, a short getaway may be possible between treatments, but it depends certain factors, including (but not limited to) the risk of aplasia (a drop in white blood cells associated with a greater risk of infection), your intended destination and planned activities. Again, this should be discussed with your doctor.
With oral treatment, a vacation is possible if you adhere to the precautions described below. Depending on the duration of treatment, disease symptoms, and treatment tolerance, ‘therapeutic holidays’ (where treatment is briefly interrupted) may be possible. In cases of prolonged treatment, such breaks may even be recommended.
Prior to departing, it is vital that you make sure you have sufficient quantities of your treatment medication to cover your length of stay, plus extra in case of a delayed return. Medication may include oral anti-tumor therapy, analgesics, anticoagulants, etc.
Don’t forget to pack copies of your prescriptions and important medical files with you.
In addition, it is recommended you prepare a list of health care contacts at your destination should things not go according to plan. This includes the addresses and phone numbers of local hospital emergency departments, pharmacies, labs, and doctors’ clinics.
Take great care with sun exposure to prevent the risk of skin cancer and photosensitivity caused by many cancer treatments.
Extreme sports and activities such as scuba diving, diving or skydiving are not recommended in certain cases. Seek advice from your healthcare professionals before departure.
Be careful, in some cases, extreme sports and activities such as scuba diving, diving or skydiving are not recommended. Seek advice from your care team before your departure.
The risk of developing thrombosis (a blood clot obstructing a vessel, most often in a vein) is greater with for those with cancer.
For medium and long-haul flights, reduce this this risk by wearing class II compression stockings and walking around during the flight. If you have previously had thrombosis or an embolism, ask your doctor if you need to be prescribed a preventive anti-coagulation medicine. If you are already taking anti-coagulants, continue to do so. Again, seek advice from your healthcare professionals if you have any questions.