While receiving chemotherapy, many of our patients -- especially during their “off” weeks -- try to maintain normalcy and enjoy a vacation. Simple, plan-ahead strategies can make for an exciting getaway.
While receiving chemotherapy last year, I had to return from vacation to be admitted for the treatment of side effects. Looking back, if I had taken the steps outlined below, I might have avoided the interruption of my family vacation. This is a patient teaching opportunity for our chemo patients.
Encourage the patient to consider the following strategies prior to leaving:
Check out the location of the nearest hospital emergency room. It is always better to be prepared.
Travel with extra medications in case some get lost or your trip is delayed. Keep the meds with you, not in a suitcase. Have copies of prescriptions in case medications are lost. It will make it easier for a pharmacy or hospital to verify the prescription.
Take safety sun precautions. These include sunscreen, a wide brim hat, an umbrella, and lots of fluids.
Be cautious of temperature-sensitive foods such as mayonnaise, buffets, etc. If certain food items are not refrigerated, this may lead to illness.
Vacation is a time for rest. Be aware of your fatigue and rest when you can -- try not to overdo it.
Plan ahead to find an available lab should you need ongoing labs. The physician can fax the prescription to the lab, blood can be drawn, and the results accessed or sent to your clinic.
Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
Once everything is in place, remember that vacation is a time to relax and enjoy. A patient must be reminded not to overexert his or herself -- they are still receiving chemotherapy. Hopefully, they'll return home fully refreshed and rejuvenated.
What vacation tips have you provided, or what tips have your patients have found helpful when traveling during the cancer treatment phase?
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