It can feel like your whole life is put on hold. You or a member of your immediate family being diagnosed with cancer can turn your world upside down.

But survival rates from cancer are better than they have ever been and are on the rise. Two-thirds of new cancer cases affect people aged under 75, and more than half of those will go on to live 10 or more years. It can be a long, hard road to recovery, but for many families learning to cope with cancer, one of the most important things is making sure life can return to as normal as possible, as soon as possible.

Which in itself raises all sorts of questions, just one of which is – is it still ok to go on a family holiday? It is not unusual for health professionals to positively encourage people who have completed treatment courses for cancer to go on holiday, to take a break from it all and recharge their batteries with some much-needed family time. But there are a variety of factors you should consider in deciding whether it is the right choice for you and your family.

Health comes first

The first and most important consideration is to judge whether you or your family member is well enough to travel. Fighting cancer is often a long term battle and there will be times when symptoms are under control and the patient feels in decent health. But there will be others when it takes its toll. This is when the medical advice will caution against travelling. Travel itself can bring its own stresses and upset your daily rhythms, potentially making symptoms of illness worse, and if you need medical assistance, you are removed from your usual support services. If in doubt, consult your doctor, who will also be able to discuss your likely prognosis for two or three months down the line, or advise on how far it would be sensible to travel, what sort of places and types of holiday to avoid and so on.

Travel and treatment

Some cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, can be notoriously hard on you physically and it is important to balance the potential side effects while undergoing treatment with the risks involved in travelling. Some treatment courses are spread out over a relatively long period of time, with sizeable gaps in between where you might want to consider things like going on a family holiday. While this wouldn’t interfere with your treatment, you should talk to your doctor about the likely effects it will have on you, what to do to cope, risk factors and so on. In many cases, you will be prescribed additional medication to counter the effects of your cancer treatment, so another consideration for travelling is taking all of these abroad with you.

Travel insurance for cancer

Finally, if you do decide to take a much needed and well-deserved family holiday, make sure you protect yourself and your loved ones properly with travel insurance. There is always the likelihood that you might need medical assistance while abroad – even for something completely non-cancer related. If you do, and you don’t have the right insurance, you will have to pay for medical care, which can be extremely expensive.

The solution is to look for a provider who specialises in bespoke travel insurance cover for cancer and other medical conditions. Click here for more information.

Once you have been diagnosed with cancer, even if you are in remission, it must be declared when you purchase travel insurance. Most providers will only provide cover for what they class as standard or basic medical needs, and have the right to refuse to offer you insurance based on your medical background. This applies if you are looking for a group policy for your whole family – if you don’t declare your medical history, you could invalidate cover for everyone in your party.

When buying your cancer travel insurance, it’s important to check that you’ve covered for other eventualities that might affect your holiday as well as thinking about your medical cover. Whether that’s winter sports cover for a holiday skiing or to cover for cancellations due to unforeseen health outbreaks like the coronavirus with travel disruption cover – these aren’t always included as standard with all travel insurance policies. There are specific rules around when you can cover coronavirus with travel insurance so it’s worth checking your policy carefully before buying it.

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