More than 100 million American adults are expected to travel for the holidays. However, mesothelioma patients are considered immunocompromised and have a higher risk of developing infections and contracting COVID-19, influenza, and the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Learn how to stay healthy if you’re traveling this winter.

Should I Be Traveling This Holiday Season?

Although many people would love to spend the holiday season with their family and friends, traveling can be more challenging for mesothelioma patients due to the risk of developing other illnesses.

Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer have a decreased ability to fight off infections and are considered immunocompromised.

Mesothelioma patients are immunocompromised because of the presence of cancer in the body and the aggressive treatments they undergo. Treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy can suppress the immune system, making it easier for you to get sick.

Traveling itself can also affect the body’s ability to fight infections. For example, the low cabin pressure and oxygen levels on an airplane can pose a threat to some patients who have recently undergone certain mesothelioma treatments.

You should generally avoid traveling if you:

  • Currently have low platelet or red blood cell levels
  • Have trouble breathing while performing light exercise
  • Recently had surgery
  • Underwent a bone marrow and/or stem cell transplant in the last year

However, everyone is different, so some patients may have no problem traveling. To determine if it’s safe for you to travel, make sure to check with your mesothelioma doctor beforehand.

You can find more information on managing life with mesothelioma in our Free Mesothelioma Guide.

COVID-19: Is It Still Something to Worry About?

While masking is no longer required and the number of reported cases has decreased in the U.S., COVID-19 infections may still pose a risk for mesothelioma patients and others with suppressed immune systems.

However, by taking the proper safety precautions, you can have greater peace of mind if you decide to travel this holiday season.

When traveling, consider:

  1. Wearing a mask in public places or large indoor gatherings
  2. Maintaining social distance as much as possible
  3. Washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
  4. Using hand sanitizer often

“Things are a lot better this year. We’re definitely in a better place, thanks to vaccines and treatments available. But cancer patients, because they’re immunocompromised, should just be more vigilant.”

— Dr. Suji Mathew, Infectious Disease Physician and Chief of Medicine at City of Hope® Cancer Center Atlanta

5 Tips to Stay Safe While Traveling for the Holidays

If you do decide to travel this holiday season, it is important to pack and prepare to stay as healthy as possible.

1. Consult Your Doctor

Before you leave, make sure you contact your mesothelioma specialist to inform them of your travels. They can look at your medical history and current treatment plan and give advice to ensure you are safe throughout your trip.

Some doctors may advise you to stay home and not travel. In this case, it may be helpful to look into video call options to visit with family safely from a distance.

2. Get Your Medical Records

Before you leave on your holiday trip, one of the most important things to do is get a printed copy of your medical records.

Some hospitals do not have access to digital records from other medical institutions. Keeping these records on hand will allow you to get the best care possible in an emergency.

3. Refill Your Medications

It is important to make sure all your regular prescriptions are refilled and you have enough for your trip. Be sure to pack needed medical and/or assistive devices as well.

If you are traveling on an airplane, pack your medications in your carry-on and contact your airline to ensure there won’t be any issues with taking your equipment on board.

4. Find a Travel Buddy

Consider traveling with a family member or a friend in case of a medical emergency. If you are flying alone, make sure to bring a form of medical identification such as a bracelet.

5. Take Steps to Prevent Blood Clots

If you are flying, you may be at a higher risk of developing a blood clot. Make sure to walk around and stretch your legs often to reduce the chance of blood clots.

You can also wear compression socks to help prevent clotting.

Mesothelioma Hope Wishes You Safe Travels This Holiday Season

It is important to remember that every cancer patient is different. Some people may feel well enough to travel, while others may not be in the best place in their cancer journey to travel long distances for the holidays.

Always be sure to consult your mesothelioma doctor before traveling so you can stay healthy.

Our team at Mesothelioma Hope wishes you a safe holiday season and remains committed to helping you and your loved ones navigate every facet of cancer care. To learn more about mesothelioma, get our Free Mesothelioma Guide shipped overnight.


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Laura WrightWritten by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

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