Travel

Contributions from

These are the experiences, ideas and views of each individual person featured here. Your own situation may be different and these ideas may not work for you.

Craig
Diagnosed in 2013

Travel

We've been very fortunate to go to Hawaii every year for the last six years. Lots of golf, good eats, libations, and a ton of needed downtime.

I was volunteering every summer at a summer camp for kids - with cancer, ironically enough - since 2006, but the last two summers I just haven't had the stamina to be able to manage that. Of course my involvement would have meant being in a cabin with ten 10-year-old boys for five days. So it would have taken a LOT of stamina. But that's probably the only situation where I've felt like I had to cut back.

Dann
Diagnosed in 2006

Travel

I go to Hawaii a couple of times a year and I treasure those times all the more now. Vacations are replenishing. They fill you back up again and they give you a chance to reflect and think about what's important.

We've also got a getaway in the eastern part of the State and we try to get there for weekends whenever we can. We go to hike, swim, sit in a hot tub and think about things other than cancer.

Deena
Diagnosed in 2012

Travel

Traveling is definitely one of my bucket list things to do. I want to get around, I want to see the Sistine Chapel.

The trip that we took to Florida recently was the first time since my last surgery that Roger and I had been away alone together. It was wonderful to accomplish that, to be there, to have the fun we had prior to cancer.

We took precautions. We started taking supplements to help boost our immune systems up.

We had a deposit due on the condo. I was getting my CT scan, and I wanted to make sure that if something prevented us from going that we wouldn't lose all the money. So I was conscious of "what if" something fell through.

We went with Southwest Airlines because we can change the flights without penalty. We will always try to do that because they won't charge you extra in such situations. If for whatever reason you can't take the flight, you can change it.

I would have researched medical facilities more, to find out the lay of the land. That didn't come to my mind, but the next time it will.

Diane
Diagnosed in 2013

Travel

For the past 10 or 15 years I've gone once a year to St Croix in the Virgin Islands. It's like a family jaunt, we all go. But the year I was diagnosed that all came to a standstill. In the spring of 2014 I decided to try it again. I was anxious because I didn't really know if I would be able to do it, but it ended up being something you're capable of. You don't think you are, but you are.

When you're diagnosed you don't believe you'll ever get better. I thought I'd never see St Croix again, but I did see it again. I felt so good that I'd been able to do that.

It's so overwhelming when you're first diagnosed as you assume that life as you know it is over, but that's not at all the case. There's always hope. It makes you appreciate everything so much and it makes you live your life so fully.

You live every day to its fullest - it's not just lip service, that's what you do.

Emily
NED (No evidence of disease) for two years

Travel

I drink a special type of alkaline water, and whenever I travel I make sure I send water to where I'm going before I get there. This way I can maintain my routine and what I feel is doing good for my body while I travel. I travel with all of my vitamins and supplements and things that we've researched that we believe are helping.

In general, I've just become very aware that my immune system is building back up, so I need to be careful that I don't catch anything. You just have to be a little bit more careful. When I'm on flights, I bring sanitizer wipes to wipe down my seat, seatbelt, the tray table, etc. I also always travel with a scarf that I wrap around my nose during the flight.

Last year we went to Cancun and we didn't do any extra activities. I couldn't have handled anything.

So this year, when we went again, to see how far I've come was just incredible. I was able to climb a 10-story ruin, and this was a huge milestone for us. I think that was important throughout my journey, and especially since surgery, to look at where I was same time last year, and the same time two years ago.

It's all about little milestones. We try to celebrate every single one of them. Throughout my treatment we celebrated everything. I think that is so important on the mental aspect of what patients go through.

The biggest thing that I had to learn was to allow myself to realize that I couldn't do it all. My husband and I were adamant that my priority was taking care of myself. Sometimes laundry didn't get done, or chores and errands didn't happen – but if you realize that you can't do it all, and that your priority is your health, I think you're doing what is right for yourself.

George
Diagnosed in 2013

Travel

George

For long distance travel, I make sure I stay someplace close to what I want to do, so I'm not spending a lot of time and a lot of energy going from the suburbs into the city or from the city to the country.

We now consider travel insurance because although I'm doing really well now, if we're planning to take a trip in six months and we've invested a fair amount of money we want to be covered for that.

Almost every cruise line, or whatever, will offer travel insurance, but it often comes in the form of a credit with the company. That's not very attractive if you're facing an illness that could prevent you from traveling again.

Now, I really enjoy planning a vacation. It gives me an opportunity to anticipate more than I had in the past.

Linda

Also pacing. We're really careful when we plan our trip that we don't drive anywhere more than six hours. That's been a bit of a change.

I don't want to go to a country that doesn't have excellent, usable and accessible medical care, and also where I can't speak the language. That's changed the kinds of trips we might have taken.

On a flight, we'll pay a little upgrade for that little extra legroom, which we never used to do. $40 or $50 a flight. I don't know if that's age related or illness related!

Janet
Diagnosed in 2011

Travel

Now that I'm on targeted therapy and I've been NED (no evidence of disease) for a couple of years, and I'm feeling healthy, I'm getting brave enough for international travel again.

Last December we went to Cancún, Mexico. I pretty much sat out on the balcony or on the beach and listened to the waves. It was wonderful.

All of a sudden I realized that there was a little piece of normal back in my life. That makes a big difference. It was so nice to do something that everybody else does.

Now I'm feeling brave enough that we've actually got a trip scheduled to go to Europe.

Pulse oximeter

I take a portable pulse oximeter with me that not only checks your pulse but also your concentration of blood oxygen. I can see if my oxygen is dropping too low and I need to use supplemental oxygen, or just slow down a bit.

Oxygen on a flight

I did take portable oxygen on a flight with me once. I knew that I had to tell the airline in advance that I would be bringing portable oxygen on board, I had to get a certificate from my doctor, and the portable equipment had to be FAA certified. What I didn't know is that it matters where I sat on the plane.

I had made a reservation for an aisle seat. When I got there and the gate attendant saw that I intended to use an oxygen compressor during the flight, I had to change to a window seat. The airline doesn't want you hooked up to a cable that's going to block other people from getting out in an emergency.

Travel insurance

There are a lot more travel insurance restrictions when you have advanced lung cancer - some policies won't cover me. Some policies require that I declare I have lung cancer as soon as I make the reservation. I also have to buy my travel insurance within a week of making the reservation, or the insurance company won't cover the pre-existing conditions.

I have talked to other lung cancer patients who do a lot of traveling. Metastatic patients don't stop living just because they have lung cancer.

Lydia
Diagnosed in 2008

Travel

Before my diagnosis I'd just traveled the States.

Since then, my sister has taken me on three cruises to Mexico, and Central America. So I've traveled differently.

Before I used to be scared. Now I've built up the courage to do anything once because of what I've been through with cancer.

Shopping

I usually go early, when there's nobody there, because I'm afraid of anybody having the flu. I don't go around a lot of people.

Marc
Diagnosed in 2011

Travel

I can't drive for as long - I usually have to take a nap for an hour or two in the afternoon.

Before I had cancer, typically I was flying four or five times a month. I'm actually in the million-mile club for flying, but that came to a screeching halt in 2011.

But since I was diagnosed I've been on two planes. I'm actually afraid to be around a lot of people because I do not want to catch any type of infection. Now, we do local things. We prefer cruises for vacations but we haven't been on one for a couple of years.

Richard
Diagnosed in 2004

Travel

I call my life now the new normal, because it is very different to how it was eleven years ago.

I have restricted pulmonary function thanks to my pneumonectomy, so I know that I have restrictions on what I can and can't do.

I still have a wonderful quality of life, but I know I can't carry two shopping bags, I can't go up two or three flights of stairs. So I have to be pragmatic. The same when I'm traveling. I'm not going to go to places with high altitudes because I know I won't be comfortable there. I just have to be careful and I have to ask a lot of questions if I'm going somewhere new.

I love to travel, and I push myself. It's a wonderful feeling when you get home and you feel like you've accomplished something you didn't think you could. I've been to Germany, Switzerland and Mexico and all over the United States. But I can't do the adventurous hiking I used to do. I want to have these experiences - but within reason. It's wonderful, mentally for me, to still have that kind of stimulation.

Stephanie
Diagnosed in 2012

Travel

If I take a three-hour trip to visit family I don't just jump in the car anymore, fill up with gas and go the whole way.

Now I find it fun to look along the route, find something you have never seen before and just walk around. The longer the trip, the more I stop.

Longer distance

The only thing I ever panic about is making sure I have my medication. That's the first thing I pack, and I always pack extra in case that something got lost.

I used to get really nervous about flying because of my immune system. Of course I'm going to always sit by the person that's hacking and coughing - it's just going to happen!

I try to wash my hands religiously, and if I have to I'll wear a mask on a plane, but I haven't had to so far.

If I was going to the Bahamas or leaving the country on a cruise or something, I would check out medical facilities.

I don't sweat the small stuff. I just don't worry about it unless necessary. It's carried on to every other aspect of my life. I used to be a worrier - I come from a long line of worriers. Now I just don't worry.

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