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After my dad was diagnosed with cancer things changed pretty rapidly for us. Figuring out successful trips for cancer patients was part of our strategy to stay strong and motivated, so we could keep fighting for as long as possible!
Our ability to move around and get from place to place changed dramatically with almost no warning. We needed to figure out how to plan successful family trips for cancer patients, so my dad wouldn’t have to give up all of the things he loved the most.
One minute everything was normal, the next minute my dad developed some neurological issues that affected his eyesight, hearing, and balance. Moving around after that, became a whole lot harder.
At first, we were a bit of a mess, but with some pre-planning and a few small changes we were able to carry on with our lives and do all kinds of things we never expected to do again.
We traveled with family (I mean a lot of family) from our home in upstate New York to…
- New York City
- The Jersey Shore
- North Carolina
- Adirondack Mountains
And spent our good days enjoying trips and activities that are great for cancer patients like…
- Broadway shows
- Boat tours
- State Parks
- Battle Grounds
- Fishing Trips
Heading out to tackle my dad’s bucket list wasn’t as difficult, once we put a few things in place and got ourselves organized.
Start With a Checklist.
First, we cleared our plans with the Oncologist to ensure that there were no restrictions or complications we needed to be aware of. The last thing we needed was more complications!
Dr. Veach was always supportive of our adventures (I think he rather enjoyed hearing about them) and gave us ideas, tools, and resources to help our trips be as successful as possible.
Next, we used book bags, which you can just throw on your back to carry things like…
- Medication (including as needed medication for things like nausea or pain in case you need them.)
- Snacks (Trail mix, graham crackers, saltine crackers, kind bars)
- Hand sanitizer
- Extra clothing
- Portable jackery (for charging cellphones)
- Phone cable (charger chord)
- Throw or blanket
- Water bottle
- Baby wipes
- North Shore Supreme Briefs
We had a list of things we never left home without because when we needed something, we usually needed it quick!
Take some time to go through your list.
It SUCKS to have misjudged a situation and end up desperately needing pain meds you don’t have. Or to suddenly be struggling with nausea and be stuck in rush hour traffic on the way home (ask me how I know).
Choose the Best Place to Stay.
Because we planned ahead, we were able to make the best choices and arrangements that worked for us.
- We either stayed in hotel rooms in separate or adjoining rooms.
- At an Airbnb where we all stayed together.
- Or, at a family members house.
Our trip to Bermuda was a last-minute cruise on the Norwegian Escape. Four people (plus a wheelchair and a walker) stayed in a 4-bed inside stateroom (I would rethink that decision if we went again) but we made it and we had an AMAZING time!
Staying together, meant we could spend a lot of extra time together and my dad could enjoy his grandchildren, relax and sleep when he needed to and still enjoy family dinners, outings and game nights.
Daddy would have immediate access to a bed (which you can make super comfortable with a few inexpensive egg crates and some fluffy pillows which we kept on hand and brought from home) and a bathroom. These may seem like small details now, but little things like that make a huge difference as you get further along into this journey.
We are family dinner type people, so we do a lot of family-style meals. With a pre-planned menu, a quick shopping trip and a ton of extra hands, we could create AMAZING 15-minute meals in less time than it took to set the table.
Decide the Best Way to Travel.
We tried a few different methods to see what was easier, and for us, the car was the winner.
It gives you the ability to stop any time you need to, and you have a lot more control when you’re driving. You are not at the whim of someone else’s agenda or schedule.
You can take your time, and you don’t need to rush (as if you were catching a train or a plane). If you need a few extra minutes, you can just take them. You can stop when you need to stop, and start again in the morning if that’s what you feel is best.
Driving gives you options.
And with a few additional items, you can make the trip much more comfortable…
- Add a few extra pillows, blankets and other comfort items you can make the seats more comfortable for extended travel.
- You can also download movies on your phone or watch them on a DVD player (they sell portable players, that slide onto the headrest if your car is not equipped).
- You can provide protection from bathroom accidents using Chux’s Underpads and carrying a urinal (which the oncologist should give you for free), in case there is nowhere to stop.
- If you need additional protection, check out these Northshore Supreme Briefs… They are not cheap, but NOTHING is getting through these suckers.
Equipment That Improves Trips For Cancer Patients.
We used a wheelchair to get around, so my dad could save his energy for the things he really wanted to do.
The wheelchair was also sometimes used as a “walker” to provide additional support and stability while he was standing and walking around.
Using a wheelchair allowed him to have a place to sit whenever he needed it, and I could just take over and start pushing whenever he needed a break. And of course, he could grab a cat nap when he needed to.
We used a wheelchair for most of our battle.
Eventually, though, we graduated to a power scooter.
We had rented one on the cruise and it did so much more than just get him around.
It gave him back the independence that he hadn’t had for quite a while.
Suddenly, he was able to go places without me, and do things on his own. You could see how excited he was about being able to do things on his own again. And it let him reserve his energy for the things that really mattered to him.
The power scooter gave him the ability to enjoy whatever we were doing for much longer than if he were walking or I was pushing him. This is an amazing tip if you’re planning a family trip for someone with cancer.
And, not that I would ever complain, but it gave me a break from pushing the wheelchair (which depending on the situation is harder than it looks.)
As a bonus, the power scooter is cool! I mean really cool. It was quick and easy for him to navigate (not me, I crashed when I tried to drive it!)
Can We Afford a Power Scooter?
When we first looked into getting a power scooter the prices were insane (like $7000) and not even possible for us.
Then I stumbled into a scooter store on one of our vacations and found this scooter for a fraction of the price.
It’s not cheap but at about $1, 300, brand new, we figured out a way to swing it.
And it was a game changer.
We ordered one because when you’re dealing with a diagnosis of this magnitude, it’s rare that you’re able to find something that will give you back something cancer has taken (like your independence).
(Note) These can be approved through Medicare if a doctor determines they are medically necessary. Be aware that we were told that’s it’s hard to get approved and the process from what we have heard takes about 6 months. This may be worth the wait if you want to successfully plan family trips for cancer patients.
When you’re a caregiver who is trying to plan successful and amazing family trips for someone that you love, you need easy tips and tricks. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
What are your best tips for family trips when cancer is involved? Let me know in the comments.
P.S. If you’re overwhelmed by all this cancer business, we can relate! The Cancer Binder Pack will walk you through the quick and easy system we used for organizing medical information. Step-by-step instructions, printable forms, and monthly calendar pages so you can ALWAYS find what you need when you need it. And, the best part it’s FREE…
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