The holidays often involve travel, which may seem burdensome for those with pancreatic cancer. Though the holidays are synonymous with good times, friends and family, even the holiday spirit can be hindered when you’re worried about health concerns.

“Traveling with a cancer diagnosis can present a few additional challenges, but as long as you plan ahead, you can manage many of the issues,” said Nicole Feingold, director of patient services at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN).

Here are eight tips to help you prepare for your holiday travels.

  1. Know your condition: Changes in oxygen levels and air pressure at high altitudes can induce blood clots or a collection of fluid known as lymphedema, which can be a concern for pancreatic cancer patients. It’s helpful to check with your doctor to be certain flying will not be a health risk for your condition.
  2. Know your medical information: Have your doctor write a full summary of your medical instructions, allergies and diagnosis, as well as treatment plan. Some hospitals may not be able to access your health information, so it’s important that you have it on hand.
  3. Keep your medication and medical instructions close: Be sure to pack medications and medical information in your carry-on luggage. Checked luggage runs the risk of being misplaced and could end up in a different location than you. In the case of this happening, you do not want to be in a situation where you are not in the same vicinity as the medication or information that’s pertinent to your health.
  4. Prepare for the change in time: Traveling often skews our mental clock, especially when traveling to a different time zone. Be sure to eat balanced meals, and don’t let your diet and schedule suffer because you’re traveling. Attempt to abide by your normal routine, get plenty of rest and don’t abandon healthy habits.
  5. Be honest with how you’re feeling: Often, patients don’t want to burden their families with their health issues. However, your health is a priority to yourself and your family. If you’re feeling less than 100 percent, let a family member know. This will allow you to receive the care that’s needed.
  6. Don’t overwork yourself: Relinquish some of your traditional holiday tasks if they prove to be too strenuous. You may leave the cooking and cleaning to other family members. It’s OK to say no if you’re not feeling physically up to a certain task.
  7. Enjoy yourself: Try to involve yourself in family activities that aren’t that physically strenuous. Taking your mind off your illness and enjoying the company of your family can bring you joy and improve your overall mood.
  8. Plan ahead: It’s critical to plan ahead. Do not wait until a few days before you travel to get things done. Map out what’s needed and what you or a family member should do in case of a medical emergency. Cover all possibilities, even for events that don’t seem likely to happen.

Contact PanCAN Patient Services for more information about this topic and other resources and helpful information for pancreatic cancer patients and caregivers.