The holidays are upon us and there will be many articles on all the things surrounding this “wonderful” time of the year: from finding the perfect gift to managing your stress. And, in addition to eating too many sweets, one thing almost all of us will be doing this season is traveling.
Traveling during the holidays often has its own set of issues and even more so if you have cancer. Cancer.Net has some great advice for traveling with cancer.
Even though it seems like one more thing to add to an already long “to-do” list, author Mark Honor recommends making an appointment with your healthcare provider before setting out. You can check if there are any restrictions or recommendations you should adhere to while away from home. Your physician can be sure your prescriptions are filled so you do not run out and you can confirm their contact information.
Cancer.Net also recommends getting a copy of your medical records. If you need to go to a new hospital or clinic while away they will not have access to your records. Your records are only available from your healthcare provider with your permission. If it is after hours there will be no one at your physicians to forward your records when you need them. The author suggests having a copy of your current and past cancer treatments, a copy of an electrocardiogram (EKG), notes from your last physician visit and a list of current medicines. A mobile app or a doctor-approved paper form such as your treatment summary will work. Plus make sure you have a friend or family member keep a copy. That person should also be listed under ICE (in case of emergency) on your device(s).
If possible have your original prescription bottles with you. They will have the medication name, prescribed dosage, the pharmacy name and information plus the prescribing physician’s name. If you are prescribed opiods (narcotics) for pain be sure to have enough with you and all the prescription information. Most emergency room physicians will not give narcotics refills to anyone let alone travelers. If you have any medication allergies, be able to explain them. Wear medical alert jewelry that explains your allergies especially while traveling.
Implantable devices — such as an insulin pump, pain medicine pump, chemotherapy port or pacemaker — all have manufacturer’s cards. Often this card is given out at the hospital when the device was implanted in your body. Be sure to carry it with you. The card will include information on the device that a health care provider may need to have. It can also help you get through airport screening in the least intrusive way possible.
Finally we all know that traveling can expose us to infection causing germs and we need to practice good hand washing, etc. If your immune system is weakened from an illness, chemotherapy, certain medicines or cancer treatment you need to be especially vigilant and might want to wear a N95 medical mask. The mask provides protection from airborne viruses and bacteria. The masks are effective for one trip out and are disposable. Other masks are designed to protect other travelers from you and provide no protection for you.
Cancer.Net also states that another important way to prevent infections while on the road is to eat out cautiously. No buffets, raw fish or meat and uncooked vegetables.
Whether you’re off to warmer climes, seeing a new family member or catching up with old friends; traveling at this time of year can be a wonderful addition to your holiday plans. You do not have to let a cancer diagnosis keep you home so be sure to travel safe.
The Northeast Regional Cancer Institute encourages you to talk with your healthcare provider about your specific medical conditions and treatments. The information contained in this article is meant to be helpful and educational but is not a substitute for medical advice. The above information is from www.cancer.net.org. The Northeast Regional Cancer Institute can provide additional information on the above topic. Feel free to visit the Cancer Institute website at www.cancernepa.org, or contact the organization by calling (800) 424-6724.