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May 2011
12 Travel Tips for Cancer Patients
Dr. P. P. Bapsy
A holiday helps you relax – something a physically ill person would really appreciate. Discussing your travel plans with your doctor would really help. Patients receiving chemotherapy would do good to look at these travelling tips, this holiday season.

  1. Discuss with the treating physician whether your condition will allow you to travel. Also talk about the need for preventive vaccines. Remember to keep his/her cell phone number with you.
  2. If you are travelling in-between chemotherapy cycles, there is a chance of your white blood cell count going down. Do discuss with your doctor.
  3. All cancer patients should carry their treatment records with them. You never know if a situation will arise which asks for them.
  4. All prescribed medicines should be compulsorily taken, wherever you are. Cancer does not take a vacation, even if you do.
  5. If you are having an international holiday, there are possibilities your drugs might not be available over-the-counter. It is also highly possible that the same medicine would be expensive, outside India.
  6. The one time you understand the value of living in India is, when looking at medical bills abroad. The cost of medical treatment is exorbitant, especially in the US and Europe. It is better to check whether your travel insurance includes emergency treatment options before you plan to travel. Also check on the nearest place for emergency care with your phone’s GPS (or search it on the internet, or ask at the hotel).
  7. Carry more than an adequate quantity of medicines. Ensure that a portion of these medicines is stored with your cabin luggage. Baggage, as we know, has the terrible tendency of being delayed or even lost, when you least expect it.
  8. Don’t keep your medicines in the glove compartment of your travelling vehicle – it could get very hot in there, even to the extent of affecting your medicines.
  9. Carry the doctor’s prescription with you, just in case. It is essential, especially for getting narcotics (morphine / fentanyl).
  10. Short eats/special meals served by the airlines as standard food might create nausea. Chemo patients might need antiemetics (which prevent vomiting and nausea) to avoid air sickness. Bring this up in your discussion with your doctor.
  11. When you book your airline ticket, do discuss facilities like the possible need of oxygen in the cabin, requirements of an aisle seat or the front seat for your comfort, and a wheelchair.  It is better to take prior permission to use the airport’s lounge facility during a long transit.
  12. During the flight, do take adequate fluids and do leg exercises/a small walk intermittently, to avoid deep vein thrombosis.
Dr. P. P. Bapsy is Medical Oncologist at Apollo Hospitals, Benguluru

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