Cancer and Travel
If you know me, you know that I love to travel (and you may have been frustrated by my absences from work). I figured out long ago, in my early 20s when I had no money, that I never regretted money spent on trips, and that there was no better place to direct my income.Even though the transportation part has become increasingly unpleasant, I still love arriving at the airport and heading out somewhere. Almost anywhere.
My first plane trip was on a Pan Am Clipper in 1958 when my family was moving to Saigon. It took more than 36 hours from San Francisco with stops in Hawaii, Wake Island, Guam, and the Philippines. I remember two especially wonderful things about that long flight: there were beds in the place where we now are encouraged to stow our overhead luggage. The berths pulled down and were quite comfortable (at least for a little kid). The second thing is that there was a small lower level lounge with some transparent material for part of the floor. One could sit down there and watch the world (mostly ocean) float by underfoot. Surely set me off dreaming about walking through the clouds.
When I get on a plane now, I don't expect pull down berths or clouds underfoot, but it is still exciting. This is an introduction to a column that I just wrote for Cancer Today. Here is the start and a link:
Have Cancer, Will Travel
With planning, most patients and survivors can experience the rejuvenation that comes with
You may have finished your cancer treatment but still feel more fatigued or vulnerable than usual, or you may be currently on active treatment. Either way, dreaming about and planning a trip—and then experiencing new places and people—can be an effective prescription.
There are certainly times when a trip is not possible because of cancer. But more often, it is. And though cancer or its treatment may make travel more challenging, your experience with the disease can also increase the value of your time away. Whether you leave town for a far-away destination or a quiet weekend nearby, it is the change of scenery and the reminder that a world exists outside of cancer that are important. For some patients, thinking
about a vacation as a reward at the end of treatment or a transition to recovery may be a positive motivator
through difficult months. During treatment, a trip may provide the rare opportunity to be surrounded by strangers
who are oblivious to your diagnosis.
Always discuss any travel plans with your doctors. There might be reasons why a particular destination or
schedule is unwise, and you may need your doctors’ connections and help to plan for needed care during the trip.