Holidays; I don’t know about you, but I love planning them especially when the weather is so dismal! Dreaming of an escape from the norm and daily routine.
By Susanna Smith, Kidney Cancer Specialist Nurse
When you are having treatment for cancer going away from home becomes a little more daunting than it was before. Questions go through your mind like;
- Am I able to fly?
- Should I go abroad?
- How far can I go?
- Where can I get health insurance?
- What if I feel unwell when I’m away?
Hopefully this blog will help to answer some of your questions. Firstly, before planning a getaway, consider the treatment you are having.
- Have you just started it?
- Are your side-effects controlled?
It is important that you are well established in your treatment before planning a break away. Sometimes I suggest to my patients to wait until after their first scan, this gives the treatment time to be established and any side-effects time to be managed by the team. This also means when you are away the chance is lower of you being unwell and needing medical care.
If in this first period of a new treatment you are feeling well, day trips and weekends away nearby can help to break up the numerous hospital appointments.
Home or away?
Most people like to holiday abroad but there are also plenty of places in the UK to holiday. This helps to make going on holiday a lot simpler. It is always handy to work out where the nearest hospital is to where you are going, and making sure you have your latest letter or record book detailing your current treatment. You can always ask your team to write an up-to-date letter for you to take with you and consider taking enough medication – and support medication – to last you through your trip.
Going abroad is entirely possible whilst on treatment but there are a few things to consider.
The first is where you are going? Staying closer to home i.e. Europe is preferable, due to most European countries having a reciprocal health agreement with the UK. You can apply for a free EHIC, (European Health Insurance Card) and this gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland.
Travel insurance is also important when you go abroad and there are companies who specialise in providing cover and we have lots of information on our web page to direct and support your decisions here.
When travelling abroad, it is also important to keep a recent doctor’s letter in your hand luggage concerning your condition and treatment, this should also include the medication you are taking and will be carrying with you. Some countries have restrictions to medication you can carry, a list of medication you can and can’t take will be available through the country’s embassy website. A letter is also very important if you are carrying controlled liquid drugs such as strong pain relief – e.g. liquid morphine – so that they’ll allow you to take this on the plane. A letter detailing you are fit to fly/travel is also required by many airlines and insurance companies, this can be requested from your medical team.
Airports are big places, so consider if you need extra assistance. Don’t be shy to ask if you
need it! This is a free service and can be requested when you book your flight, but it must be booked at least 48 hours before departure. This assistance can be very helpful when the distance of the walk to your gate is unknown and steps on to the plane maybe difficult.
Most importantly, prepare to enjoy your break away, if you are uncertain talk your trip over with your medical team to make sure you have a
safe and thoroughly enjoyable trip.