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7 Essentials to Pack for Summer Travel During Cancer Treatment

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Updated June 11, 2009

Summer Sun Hat

Summer Sun Hat

Udo Weber

Your During Treatment For Cancer Travel Plans:

Summer holds great opportunities to spend time with family and friends. If you're in treatment for breast cancer, you can still travel – you just need to pack a little more carefully. Discuss your plans with your doctor and then get out your suitcase. Here's a list of things to pack in addition to your camera, credit cards, clothes, and medications:

1. Sun Hat:

Chemo can make you photosensitive. If the sun is on you for too long, you might tan -- but only in spots, causing dark blotches. Prevent this problem by keeping out of direct sunlight. A good sun hat can create an island of personal, portable shade for you when that's not 100% possible.

2. Sunscreen:

Pick up a good sunscreen lotion that is protective and moisturizing. Go for an option with an SPF rating of 30 or higher. Your skin may already be dry from chemo or radiation, so having plenty of moisturizer in your sunscreen is a bonus. Bring along some aloe vera gel, just in case you do get sunburned.
Please Note: Some doctors are becoming concerned with the potential presence of phytoestrogens in sunscreens. This may be of some concern to estrogen receptive positive (ER+) patients on endocrine therapy. As such, they recommend physically putting something between your exposed areas and the sun (see #5 below).

3. Skin Care:

Bag up products that will keep your skin moist. Choose a gentle soap, lip balm, and overall moisturizer that you can use to relieve dry skin. Treat yourself to some lush hand cream that has a non-greasy formula. I have found that products with aloe, shea butter, or oatmeal are gentle and effective.

4. Sanitizer Gel:

If you're having chemo, your immune system might be low, so avoiding and killing germs is always a good idea. Take along some organic hand sanitizer, or make your own hand sanitizer. You can also take along some sanitizing wipes, if you want to wipe down surfaces in a hotel room or restaurant.

5. Shawls, Sleeves and Scarves:

Covering your skin from the sun can be elegant and easy. Find a great shawl and drape it across your arms, or wind it around like a sari. Add a long flowing scarf with a complementary color for accent, and you'll look like a celebrity! For more casual days, take along a loose, long-sleeved overblouse in a natural fiber fabric. Pick light colors and try linen or cotton, as these fabrice breathe easily and are lightweight. Some manufacturers even make SPF clothing, which will give you added protection. Compare Prices

6. Sports Drinks:

Sun, sand and long hours on airplanes can dry out your inner and outer self. Get yourself some smart sports drinks (and avoid caffeine). Pick some sports drinks that contain electrolytes, to maintain your electrolyte balance. Some electrolytes are calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Chemo can upset the balance of these chemicals that your body needs for nerves and muscles. A good diet can help, and sports drinks and plenty of water will replenish your tissues.

7. Sensible Sweets:

Your mouth may become dry, but using a low-sugar or sugar-free lozenge or mint can help. Sucking on a citrus or ginger-flavored candy can help stimulate your mouth to create its own natural moisture. Ginger can help alleviate a queasy a stomach, or help with motion sickness. To keep your teeth and gums healthy, choose treats made with natural sweeteners or sugar substitutes. Bring along plenty of these to share with your travel companions.

Take-Along Message:

Don't miss out on the summer fun! Say yes to those weekend trips, beach outings, and family gatherings. Make sure to pack carefully, eat wisely, stay well hydrated, and listen to your body while you're away. Staying healthy during a trip will help you enjoy it -- and enjoy those around you -- all the more. Put on your fabulous hat, drape your shawl in style, and sail into summer.
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