Everyone needs a break from time to time, especially you’re going through treatment for cancer. However, there are extra things you might need to think about when travelling abroad with cancer.
Here's a guide to the key essentials to include in your summer holiday packing list.
Flying comfortably with cancer
Cancer treatment can sometimes make it difficult to sit comfortably, especially for long periods of time. If you’re flying with cancer and you suffer from swollen feet or ankles, wearing seamless socks made from a breathable material can help to make things less restrictive and more comfortable. The Live Better With community recommend bamboo socks, which are naturally soft, anti-bacterial and moisture-wicking.
Meanwhile, using an inflatable cushion can help to relieve the pressure from sitting still for long periods - and can be popped into your bag when you don’t need it.
And when it comes to keeping yourself entertained, the Ibeani tablet cushion will hold your iPad, Kindle or other tablet safely in place for you, relieving the pressure on hands and wrists and allowing you to just sit back and relax.
Adequate sun protection
Treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can make your skin more vulnerable to the sun, so you need to take extra care to protect yourself.
You should avoid exposing any sensitive areas of skin to the sun, by wearing a good summer hat and light clothing and applying a suncream with a minimum 30 SPF over your whole body. Remember to reapply your suncream regularly, including after swimming.
The Live Better With community recommend SunSense Ultra Water Resistant Sunscreen, which has an SPF of 50+ and contains moisturising Vitamin B3 to help revitalise dry skin.
Finally, don’t forget your lips - cancer treatment can cause lips to become dry, chapped and sore, so make sure you protect them from the summer sun with a moisturising lip balm.
Swimwear for post-surgery
If you’ve had surgery for cancer, such as a mastectomy, the thought of donning a swimming costume and heading down to the water for a dip may be a daunting one. However, these days there are plenty of stylish post-surgery swimwear options available to help you feel comfortable and confident.
For example, the Amoena Hawaii Non-Wired Tankini, which comes in a gorgeous turquoise colour with added print detailing at the neckline. Meanwhile, the Faro swimsuit has a solid half bodice design with stripe insert and belt detail, plus a removable strap for extra support. Both swimsuits feature special pockets designed to hold a breast form in place, and are cut slightly higher under the arm to offer extra security.
If you need to keep wound dressings, stoma covers or tubes in place, the Live Better With community recommend using a protective cover such as Opsite Flexifix Transparent Film Roll, which is waterproof, breathable and easy to apply.
Things to help you stay cool
Many people who undergo cancer treatment find that they suffer from hot flushes and difficulty sleeping, and this can be worse in hot climates. However, there are things you can do to help stay cool and comfortable while you’re away.
For a refreshing boost during the day, take a cooling spray with you - simply pop it in your bag or hand luggage and use it whenever you need to. And when you’re out and about, try the Brobe Cooling Neck Wrap, a stylish neck tie which contains cooling beads.
To help get a better night’s sleep, make sure you pack a pair of bamboo pyjamas, which are naturally lightweight and breathable and can help to regulate your body temperature. The Live Better With community also recommend using a cooling gel mat - a foldable slimline gel mat which is naturally cooler than room temperature and offers effective relief.
Travel insurance offers you financial protection should anything happen when you’re away on holiday. Unfortunately, if you’re being treated for cancer - or have had treatment in the past - finding travel insurance can be more of a challenge. Some companies may refuse to offer insurance cover, while others may charge a higher premium or exclude existing medical conditions.
At Live Better With, we’re passionate about the issue of travel insurance for cancer patients, which is why we’ve teamed up with International Travel and Healthcare Limited (ITHC), who specialise in providing bespoke medical screening to help you find affordable cover that suits your needs.
You can contact ITHC free on 0800 041 8420.
If you need to take your cancer medication away with you on holiday, it’s worth preparing in advance. Make sure you have enough supplies to take on the plane, and enough in your luggage to cover your time away - plus some extras in case of a delay or emergency.
You should also take a copy of your prescriptions and a letter from your doctor which gives details of your cancer and medications.
It can also be helpful to pack some basic medical supplies in your luggage, such as ginger tablets to help with any digestive problems, and a soothing mouth gel if your cancer treatment has given you a sore or dry mouth.
Wherever you’re going, we hope you have a lovely time away!
If you have any cancer-related travel tips, we’d love to hear them - why not join the Live Better With community forum.