This post follows on from Finding time to holiday.. . As you probably read in my previous post I craved the heat after chemotherapy as it was the only thing that relieved all my aches and pains. I am lucky enough to live in a temperate climate but that unfortunately means a lot of rain at times. We are blessed the past few days with fabulous sunny weather and we are making the most of it by spending most of our time outdoors.
If you are deciding to visit another country some tips to be mindful of when your immune system is still recovering from treatment. I should state that I am not giving medical advice but practical tips based on my own experience. I am including links to the experts who have a plethora of knowledge on the subject.
The most important practical tip I can give is to wash your hands frequently. The usual times- before food, after visiting the bathroom and after touching any surfaces in public use such as door handles, counter surfaces, shopping trolley handles etc. (Hopefully you won’t have to do too much shopping!). I carried a hand sanitiser with me at all times and still do to this day- old habits I guess. If you can’t wash your hands avoid touching your mouth and eyes until you can access washing facilities. On the plane, despite washing my hands after using the bathroom I always use a hand sanitiser afterwards for obvious reasons. I should add I try to avoid using the bathroom on the plane as much as possible!! Again the hand sanitiser is useful when sitting in your cramped seat on the plane before eating any food.
The websites below give advice for mosquito bites in malaria affected countries. If unfortunate enough to get a mosquito bite on your affected arm, ( which has happened to me), either use steroid based insect cream or take an anti-histamine tablet. These bites can become infected and increase the risk of developing lymphoedema on your arm. If concerned get medical advice sooner rather than later. The following links give in-depth advice for flying and holidaying with lymphoedema – Lymphireland and National Lymphedema Network
Extra care when sunbathing is required and remember skin is usually sensitive to the sun with chemotherapy. The best advice is to stay in the shade and wear a high SPF. Irradiated skin can burn easily too – even with factor 50 on that area my skin burned so it is best to keep the area covered altogether.
The CDC – Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is the only site I could find that specifically focussed on people with a weakened immune system. It was easy to access and I found it a very useful site for traveller health. It covers what vaccines, if any, are required, what medicines to take, eating and drinking safely and how to avoid Travellers Diarrhoea.
The hpsc – the health protection surveillance centre is the Irish equivalent which gives good general advice for all people travelling abroad
Again the ecdc and the Australian Department of Health gives advice for all types of diseases that may be encountered abroad. The Gov.uk website also gives good general advice on security , safety, entry requirements , travel warnings as well as health advice.
Getting travel insurance with cancer can be a bit tricky especially soon after treatment but with a bit of research and shop around you should find a company to insure you. Cancer Research UK also suggest to read the policy carefully, as with any policy, to make sure it covers everything all of your requirements.
Hope the above helped with your planning and have a lovely holiday! Now back to catch a few more rays..