Real Talk

A holiday could be just what the doctor ordered

December 1, 2023 Word for Word Media 0Comment

Cecile Booth shares a valuable check-list for planning your holiday during treatment.

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When you are on the cancer journey so much of your daily life and mental energy revolve around doctors’ appointments and your treatment schedule. Sometimes you need to say bon voyage to the doctors and treatment, and hello to some relaxation and fun.

Holidays are known to help us feel less stressed and cope better with various life situations, which includes symptoms of cancer or the side effects of treatment. So, a holiday could be just what the doctor ordered.

Planning a holiday also gives you something to look forward to and transports your mind to more pleasant thoughts. You can start daydreaming of warm beach breezes, beautiful mountain views, or the bush. All of this

moves your mind away from thoughts about your cancer. If you are currently on treatment, planning your trip away may need a little more preparation.

Five ways to get ready for your holiday

Talk to your doctor

Your oncologist knows your diagnosis and understands the treatment you’re on, so they are the best person to speak to when you want to go on holiday. They will be able to give you specific recommendations as well as restrictions for your travel. You can also ask about the medications you need to take along and what to do in case of an emergency.

Review your medications

Once you have confirmed what medications you need to take along on your trip, it’s important to ensure you have enough of it. Many people put their medication in separate containers labelled Monday to Sunday; while this helps to remind you to take your medication, it will not state what the medication is, or what dosage you take, normally found on your medication boxes or bottles. It’s important to have this valuable information available as it may prove useful if you did need to consult a doctor while on holiday. If you are flying to your destination, it’s best to keep your medication in your hand luggage in case your checked bag is delayed or lost.

Know where to find medical care

Before heading off on your trip, make sure you know where the nearest hospital or oncology unit is located, so that in case of an emergency, you will know exactly where to go and what to do.

Know the limits of your body

If you are flying, contact the airline so that you can request the use of a wheelchair. This will ensure you make it to your boarding gate without needing to walk long distances in the airport, meaning you arrive at your destination ready to relax, not exhausted and anxious. You need to continue to listen to your body while on holiday. If you are feeling a little tired, make sure to give yourself a small break, even if it’s 15 – 20 minutes of relaxation. By taking small breaks throughout the day, you will ensure that you don’t overdo it and are able to have built-up enough energy to enjoy activities later in the day.

Move around

Cancer patients are known to have a higher risk of developing blood clots. If you are driving to your holiday, ensure that you make frequent stops to stretch your legs, and keep flexing your ankles while sitting. If you are flying, it’s important to get up and walk around the cabin frequently, so you can keep the blood flowing.

Now go and enjoy your trip, once all the planning is complete. Use this time away to not think about cancer, and simply focus on having fun and making memories. A holiday may be just what you need to sustain you during the more stressful times of your cancer journey.

So, maybe you need to speak to your doctor and see if they want to write you a script for a holiday trip.

Cecile Booth

MEET THE EXPERT – Cecile Booth

Cecile Booth is an oncology social worker and has been working at ABJ Inc for the past 14 years. She developed a passion for palliative care in 2015 when she did a Post-graduate diploma in Palliative Medicine at UCT. She then decided to pursue her Master’s in Palliative Medicine at UCT in 2019 and graduated in 2021.

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