Every type of cancer has its own specific needs. These not only vary among different people but also according to the nature of the cancer and especially the type of treatment and the specific circumstances of each patient.
You can't give the same advice to one patient who is midway through their treatment as another whose treatment has been completed, or to someone who has had recent surgery (who in turn will not need exactly the same care and precautions as someone who has had surgery in the past).
However, we can put forward a series of general tips for traveling with children suffering from cancer, which can also be extended to adult patients in certain aspects.
The most important thing is to plan a journey with the help of the patient's medical team, especially in the case of children. Possible restrictions might be that the dates of the trip interfere with the scheduled treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery. Your oncologist is the person best placed to advise you on the most appropriate time to travel.
The involvement of the child's oncologist when making plans for traveling with children with cancer is extremely helpful for selecting the travel dates, destination, means of travel and activities that will work best for the child. For example, if the child's blood count is showing signs of falling or is already very low, the doctor might suggest postponing the trip for another time. Depending on the blood count, the medical team can advise parents what precautions to take if the child develops a fever, or might recommend the use of protective masks in airports or other busy places, among other things.
Traveling by car has an advantage over other forms of transport in that it allows greater freedom of movement. In a car you can stop as many times as necessary and take frequent breaks, something that you can hardly do on an aircraft, not to mention other potential complications that might arise due to the particular characteristics of air travel.
What to take with you when traveling with a child with cancer
All their medical information in as much detail as possible in the form of a document from the medical team or pharmacist describing all the medication prescribed for the cancer treatment, including doses, timings, prescription renewals, etc. You should also consider whether the drugs you are taking with you are legal in the destination country if you are crossing a border. It is also very important to ask the child's doctors if any other medication might be necessary for the trip, such as anti-emetics or antibiotics.
It is always a good idea to get as much information as possible about the destination in case a medical emergency arises. Emergency numbers, the phone number of the local hospital, its address and how to get there are all important precautionary details. In addition, you should talk to your insurance provider to let them know about the situation and the medical condition of the child.
- Make sure you take more medicines than you think you will need in case your stay needs to be extended unexpectedly.
- All medicines must be kept in their original childproof packets or containers.
- Do not keep drugs in the glovebox or boot of the car to avoid exposure to excess heat and humidity which might damage the medicines.
- The best thing is to carry the medicines yourself in a an easily-accessible handbag as your child might need a dose during the journey.
- Although the use of a face mask is not always comfortable for children, it can be essential to protect them from germs.
- When traveling in a hot climate, you should remember that some medicines can increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun, so it is highly advisable to take a high SPF cream with you and make sure you apply it to your child.
As well as all the above, you should also think about your child's comfort and enjoyment during the trip as well as the vacation. You might want to take their favorite pillow, comfortable caps or hats if they have lost or are losing their hair, and toys, games and music to keep them relaxed and entertained during the journey.