As the current coronavirus pandemic continues to run its course, average people attempt to live their everyday lives as safely as possible. This becomes even more challenging for those with suppressed immune systems, like those with cancer.
However, as a cancer patient, you may still have to travel for checkups and appointments. If you are a cancer patient that needs to seek treatment during COVID-19, do not worry. Thankfully, with some precautions, you can get to your treatment center for appointments and mitigate the potential risk of exposure to COVID-19. Here are some tips and resources for traveling with cancer.
Wear a Face Mask
Face masks have increasingly become one of the most important tools in fighting coronavirus, slowing its spread, and flattening the curve. Current evidence shows that airborne respiratory droplets are the primary means of virus transmission. Exposure to these droplets through your mouth, nose, or eyes can result in the virus growing and spreading within your already weakened immune system.
Masks work in two ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Face masks prevent you from breathing in airborne droplets and contracting the virus, but if you potentially have the virus and aren’t showing any symptoms, masks can prevent you from spreading the virus to others. Face masks can also act as a physical barrier to keep you from touching your mouth and face with your hands.
N95 masks and respirators tend to be the most effective as they form a tight seal around the mouth and nose and provide effective filtration of airborne particles. However, as supplies may be limited, even surgical masks and cloth masks can be highly effective. While restrictions vary state-to-state, try to wear a face mask whenever you go out, especially if your medical treatment or appointments take you into an indoor public area.
Maintain Social Distancing
To further reduce the risk of exposure, make sure you practice safe social distancing whenever possible. Social distancing is designed to keep you from coming into close contact with people who may have the virus. In practice, this means avoiding large group gatherings, staying away from crowded indoor spaces, and maintaining at least six feet from other people. The six feet acts as a buffer for any respiratory droplets that can spread from coughing, sneezing, or even just talking. This distance matters even if everyone is wearing a mask. If you are seeking medical treatment for cancer, it can be hard to maintain 6-feet while in a doctor’s office. However, medical centers are adapting to this and making it safer by taking extra precautions for their patients with a cancer diagnosis.
Try to maintain at least a 30-day supply of any medication that you need. Having enough medication to last you will help mitigate your risk of exposure. If possible, send a family member or friend to gather your medication should you need additional supply. While you should generally stay at home as much as possible, you should not delay any emergency care or life-saving medical treatment.
Wash Your Hands
Although respiratory droplets are the primary means of transmission, it’s important not to ignore indirect contact transmission. This refers to touching a surface or object that may have the virus on it and then touching your mouth or face.
To prevent this indirect transmission, wash your hands thoroughly, especially before meals and after you come into contact with anyone. Wash hands with warm water and soap. Make sure to get all parts of your hands, fingers, and wrists for 20 seconds before rinsing and drying with a clean towel.
Unfortunately, the FAA has not yet set any requirements for leaving middle seats open, meaning many airlines are filling up their flights. The arguments about keeping middle seats open abound, but it does limit the number of people aboard the plane, which ultimately reduces the risk of exposure and spread. Alaska, Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest have committed to blocking middle seats or otherwise limiting the maximum number of seats sold on flights. If you do experience a full flight, try to ask if you can upgrade to a business or first-class seat, which usually allows for more personal space.
Obtain travel insurance on your plane flight in the event you feel too uneasy about flying. This can help avoid money lost in travel costs. As always, make sure to have travel medicine and the necessary supply available for the entire length of your trip.
Wear a Face Mask
Make sure that you wear a face mask at all times. Not all airlines or airports require face masks, meaning you may encounter other travelers who are uncovered. Bring extra face masks in case one gets lost, wet, or damaged. Traveling with cancer means taking extra precautions to ensure your safety. While you may be engaging in safe practices, it’s important to recognize others might not be.
Wipe Down Your Space
Many airlines have implemented deep cleaning procedures between flights, focusing on seats, seatbelts, seatback pockets, and tray tables. Still, keep some disinfectant wipes handy to wipe down your own area, particularly tray tables and armrests, as an extra precaution.
Watch What You Wear
For your in-flight clothing, wear long pants and a top with long sleeves for added protection. If you are feeling extra precautious, we recommend bringing a change of clothes for once you arrive at your destination.
Wash Your Hands and Sanitize Often
As always, wash your hands as often as possible, especially before you eat or drink and after touching any surface (bathroom handles, the tops of seats).
Wrapping It Up
Treat your other appointments at medical centers the same way. Make a list that includes each step of the process, including any potential public transit or other forms of traveling with a cancer patient. This can help you get prepared and stay efficient while receiving care and cancer treatment.
Above all, make sure that you stay in constant contact with your oncologist or cancer care team. They can provide advice and help you decide what is best for your cancer treatment.
Getting a cancer diagnosis is never easy, especially if you are doing cancer screening during a pandemic. At Immunity Therapy Center, we strive to provide all cancer patients with the best alternative cancer treatment available. If you are looking for different treatment options, contact our team today.