Cancer and Travel Precautions

While you are in this journey, you will eventually come across a reason to travel—whether it’s for treatment, work or just for leisure. The good news is that many breast cancer patients in Singapore are able to travel safely and comfortably. As long as proper precaution is observed, your oncology team will likely approve your overseas travel. Here are the points to consider (with your doctor’s approval) when planning to go on a trip.

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1. Choose the right companion. The right companion should make travelling easy for you. Bring someone who knows you and your needs well—and preferably knows the destination, too. In case of emergency, you know you have someone who can take care of you and bring you to the nearest cancer center if necessary.

2. Pick your destination wisely. When travelling for a vacation, pick a place where you know you’ll have easy access to medical care. In Singapore, you’ll find good cancer centers, complete with the best facilities, all around the city. But not all countries can provide that. In some places, it can be hard to get proper when you need it, and chances of aggravating your condition are high.

3. Know your body’s limitations. Cancer and chemotherapy can make you feel easily tired, nauseated, weak and less likely to tolerate physical activities. As much as you want to explore a place you have never been before, your body can only do very limited activities.

Before going somewhere far away from home, keep these three important points in mind to ensure your safety. After which, heed the following advices for before, during and after your travel.

Before

• Five to six weeks before your departure date, set an appointment with your specialist. You may be required to undergo some tests and examinations with a Harley oncologist to check for cancer in Singapore to check how fit your immune system and organs are or be provided with preventive medications and vaccines.

• Consider long-term anti-biotic. If you’re visiting a developing country, a long-term anti-biotic therapy will protect you against illnesses like diarrhea, which is extremely dangerous for your condition.

• Bring necessary documents. Bring copies of your most lab tests of your breast cancer in case they are needed. This prevents waiting for hours trying to get your papers delivered to where you are. A medical letter from your oncologist describing your treatment plan and diagnosis will also be helpful in the event of an emergency.

• Bring sufficient supplies of medications. Carry all your medications with you. If possible, bring extras in case of delays. Do not transfer them in medicine containers to avoid custom or border problems. If you are taking medications with narcotics, like codeine, secure a letter of medical explanation from your specialist.

• List down all your medications. Include the dosages and the time of the day when you need to take them. Also, keep a list of your drug allergies and always have it in your wallet or give it to your travel companion.

• Learn to speak local terms of important words. Learn to speak certain words like ‘doctor,’ ‘emergency’ and ‘cancer’ in local dialect. This will expedite assistance in case of emergency.

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• Study your insurance. Some insurance do not cover medical costs outside Singapore. If your health insurance is one of those, consider securing an overseas insurance.

During

• If travelling by plane, you are at higher risk of developing blood clots due to the presence of cancer cells in your blood. To increase blood circulation and prevent blood clot, walk around in the plane at least once every hour. Ask your oncologist if you need to take blood thinner before the flight. If you are anemic because of your condition, get an approval from your specialist before flying or going to high-altitude locations.

• If you feel sick, get assistance right away. There is always someone in the plane who will be able to help you or at least arrange something for medical help. The airline or your hotel should be able to assist you to get the necessary medical care as well.

• Eat healthily. It can be tricky to have well-balanced meals when travelling, especially if you’re in a place where the food is distasteful for you. Bring along doctor-approved meal-replacement snacks and drinks, like crackers, peanut-butter, energy bars and chocolates, for back-up.

• Avoid stressing your immune system. Minimize chances of injury and infection by drinking only bottled water and eating well- and freshly-cooked food at reputable restaurants and establishments. Likewise, be careful not to hurt yourself and refrain from activities that can possible cause injuries.

After

• See your oncologist right away. Before even going away, set an appointment with your doctor for when you return from your trip. The appointment will allow your doctor evaluate your condition and make-up for any treatment sessions you possibly missed.

• Listen to your body. If you experience any unusual symptoms—either upon return or months after the trip (as some side effects incubate for months), go to a cancer center immediately.

Above all, wherever you choose to go, focus on relaxing and having fun. After all, the purpose of the trip is to get away and return home feeling refreshed. Travelling can be tiring even in the best of health, so make sure to always get enough rest. Do not be pressured to make the most of your time off, and consider including pure relaxation in your list of activities.

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