Staring down the barrel of a recent cancer diagnosis can be daunting. There are so many ‘what ifs’ and ‘how comes’ to cope with while also battling to reorganize and reprioritize ‘regular life.’ Suddenly, more thoughts are racing through the mind, and more weight than ever resting upon the shoulders. It feels like there is no room to breathe or half a second to center oneself. But, what if there was?
There is no single cure for coping with a cancer diagnosis. Still, some cancer survivors suggest that finding time to travel can promote healing. For those who plan a trip after their diagnosis, having something exciting on the horizon can provide hope and motivation during challenging days. Several women shared their experiences on how travel made a positive impact when everything seemed so bleak.
Breast cancer survivor Jessica shared how soon after her diagnosis, she planned a unique one-on-one getaway with each of her two children. She wanted to share a memorable experience with both children knowing that the future held many unknowns.
“I wanted to have an enriching experience with each of them before being out of commission,” Jessica said. “Before they saw their mother lose her breasts, her usual joie de vivre, and perhaps most importantly to them, her ability to cuddle up close and hug tightly for a while.”
She took her son to one of the best amusement parks they could reach. Jessica couldn’t help but feel the ups and downs of the roller coasters were a perfect analogy for the intense, unexpected, and sometimes nauseating emotional experiences that invariably accompany the long haul that is cancer. Jessica still managed to laugh and smile the entire time.
Soon thereafter, Jessica left town with her daughter to a quiet beach getaway a little over an hour away from their home. Leaving the COVID-induced monotony of their lives in their hometown – even for a few days – infused Jessica with the energy and fortitude needed to endure surgery and the subsequent treatments.
Dawn was planning to marry the love of her life soon when she received her diagnosis. Dawn was required to start chemotherapy shortly after, which resulted in her and her partner deciding to cancel their wedding. While planning and hosting a major celebration was too much for them at the time, the loving couple decided to keep their wedding accommodation and sneak away to simply enjoy each other’s company while surrounded by nature. The trip’s pre-cancer intention—to celebrate Dawn and her wife—never changed, in a way.
When given three months to live in her early 30s, Bershan decided to take a figurative journey into herself and a literal one around the globe to gain a fresh perspective.
“I wanted to travel and explore and get to know who I am, get to know other cultures, learn, and grow,” Bershan said, “Traveling just opens your mind. It helps you explore different things, different cultures, different foods, different people.”
Soon after her diagnosis, Bershan went on an African safari traveling through Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, and Ethiopia. When she returned home, she felt renewed and ready to fight. Fortunately, Bershan is still thriving over ten years since her diagnosis, surprising herself and her medical team.
Ready to travel but feeling exhausted?
Travel often feels completely unattainable when juggling all of the repercussions of a cancer diagnosis. Even if a patient has the brain space to plan a trip, how in the world will they have the energy to enjoy themselves?
Luckily enough, wellness travel is the hottest trend of 2022. After a particularly challenging two years, mental and physical wellbeing are assuredly top of mind. Wellness travel allows travelers to intentionally manage or improve mental and physical health, nutrition, sleep, and mindfulness. Wellness travel can include high-adrenaline adventures to bolster self-confidence, like a ropes course or rock climbing. It can also offer essential oils and aromatherapy to improve sleep. The options are limitless, allowing travelers to hone in on precisely what they want to remedy.
How does COVID affect travel for cancer patients?
Traveling in the post-COVID world looks significantly different from the days of pre-pandemic travel. Luckily it is still possible to be well-prepared and travel with ease – so long as families adjust and react to the new way of traveling.
Check out National Foundation for Cancer Research’s latest tips here.
Want to make a positive impact on cancer research while traveling?
Fly to Find a Cure is a program that allows frequent flyers, travel enthusiasts, and most importantly, those passionate about supporting cancer research to make a real impact while receiving airline miles in return. Visit the Fly to Find a Cure webpage to view NFCR’s airline partners and make a donation.
Though travel can be a restorative and regenerative experience, it is crucial to consider that traveling can still be a risk to one’s health. Cancer patients are recommended to discuss their plans with their doctor before booking a trip.
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