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Flying abroad with Cancer

(39 Posts)
Fintons Thu 30-Nov-17 15:26:51

I've been dithering about booking a holiday to Finland due to the flying. Oncologist says I should be fine to fly, however I'm worried about a number of things.

I have an open wound covered with a dressing, and am worried this will be picked up by airport scanners and I'll be whisked off to a side room. Anyone got any experience of this? Also, I have a PICC line. I've heard the scanners can also pick this up.

I'm probably being stupid, but I can't find any information on the legal status of the medication I'm on. I'm especially concerned about the Fentanyl and Diazepam.

Does anyone know if the GP would be able to issue a fit to fly certificate / letter or would this have to be the Oncologist?

BritInUS1 Thu 30-Nov-17 15:30:05

I think the first thing to check out is insurance and if you can get covered to fly x

FiveGoMadInDorset Thu 30-Nov-17 15:37:21

Sort out your insurance first, I have just got some for DH, he admittedly does not have a pic line or any open wounds but he is terminally ill.

Fintons Thu 30-Nov-17 15:46:23

Thanks for the replies. I'm not going to get insurance as it's far too expensive plus I'll be covered to some extent by the EHIC.

retirednow Thu 30-Nov-17 15:52:46

I don't think not getting insurance is wise, what happens to you (and your fellow passengers) if you become ill on the flight. IME the airline write to the doctor to ask for a fit to fly letter and regards the controlled drugs the doctor won't you just need a doctor prescription and confirmation that you are prescribed these? Why are you worried about your wound and your PICC being picked up on a scanner, I'd be more concerned that they were covered up properly and that I wouldn't run a risk of them getting infected. You can always contact the airline yourself and ask for advice, sometimes people with medical conditions get upgraded and usually treated exceptionally well.

doowapwap Thu 30-Nov-17 15:53:38

Without a bit more info, it's hard to know.
I personally wouldn't go on holiday without insurance, especially if I had an illness. Is your oncologist ok with you not having insurance?

Jedbartletforpresident Thu 30-Nov-17 15:54:20

DH flew during treatment with fentanyl patches (and other medications) no problem. It was only over to NI however.

Jedbartletforpresident Thu 30-Nov-17 15:54:58

Sorry - pressed send too soon. He just took a copy of the hospital prescription forms as proof that they were all his meds

retirednow Thu 30-Nov-17 15:59:25

NHS Choices have info on taking CDs out of the UK and MacMillan site has info on care of PICC lines. Hope you get to sort it out and have a great holiday.

Fintons Thu 30-Nov-17 16:34:32

I think I will contact the embassy to find out more about the legality of the drugs. I assume a copy of prescription will be fine but will check.

PP asking about the wound & PICC - I'll take the normal precautions wrt preventing infection. I'm anxious about the airport scanners as I don't want to miss flights or go through a potentially stressful experience.

If I did get ill mid flight I'm sure the procedure would be exactly the same as if I didn't have insurance, especially given I'm covered by EHIC so should receive the same treatment as a national of that country AFAIK.

PigletWasPoohsFriend Thu 30-Nov-17 16:36:35

Thanks for the replies. I'm not going to get insurance as it's far too expensive plus I'll be covered to some extent by the EHIC.

Sorry but I think this is a really really silly idea.

poisonedbypen Thu 30-Nov-17 16:37:28

What if you need to be flown home in an air ambulance or something?

poisonedbypen Thu 30-Nov-17 16:38:52

pollyhampton Thu 30-Nov-17 16:40:13

EHIC won't cover you for a preexisting condition though, will it? You would be very very silly to travel without insurance. When DH had cancer we went on holiday and the insurance wasn't too horrendous, I think we got a list of approved insurers from Macmillan or Marie Curie, I can't remember which.

BronteBell Thu 30-Nov-17 16:44:52

NEVER travel without insurance - even if you have no pre existing condition. What if you are taken ill and need recovery back to UK? The EHIC does not cover you for that and it could cost thousands.

Fintons Thu 30-Nov-17 17:32:09

Polly EHIC does cover pre-existing.**

slimyslitheryslug Thu 30-Nov-17 17:46:59

But what happens if you fall over & break you leg? Get run over? The hotel burns to the ground with your belongings in it whilst you are sightseeing? All of those are unrelated to cancer yet would need insurance.
Also, they will treat you locally but EHIC wouldn't cover medical repatriation if you were to need that.

Toomanycats99 Thu 30-Nov-17 17:53:36

Having worked for a holiday insurance medical assist line I would never ever ever travel without insurance. The e11 only applies for state hospitals - if you were taken to a private outpatient clinic it would not cover it. If you miss your flight and cannot fly to a couple of days later there will be extra hotel and flight costs. It is really really not worth it. There used to be policies where the cost o the cover was the same but you had a higher excess if a claim should occur.

PotteringAlong Thu 30-Nov-17 17:54:16

I'm not going to get insurance as it's far too expensive plus I'll be covered to some extent by the EHIC.

It's a hell of a lot cheaper than funding emergency surgery, treatment and medical repatriation...

2old2beamum Thu 30-Nov-17 18:06:50

We flew with DS several times, he too had a PICC line for TPN, gastrostomy, jejunostomy and a suprapubic catheter and we had no problems at all. He also was taking IV Diazepam and oramorph. He also needed needles and syringes. We had a covering letter from the hospital explaining the situation he was in. Everybody was fantastic.
Sorry cannot help regarding insurance as DS was under 16 and was covered by us so was freeshock.
Good luck and I hope you get your holiday.

Lily2007 Thu 30-Nov-17 18:17:52

You should go, its a beautiful place. When are you thinking of? I've been in the summer to see brown bears in the wild and in the winter to Lapland on a TUI break. In the summer you generally have to fly on two flights if you are going anywhere other than Helsinki, we flew FinnAir, think rules will be similar to UK. Healthcare I would imagine would be one of the best in the world though do take specialist advice with cancer. Maybe phone the airline. I think you will be OK with everything but do check. If you need any help on where to go and when please PM me. So sorry to hear you've got cancer.

Rainbowandraindrops67 Thu 30-Nov-17 21:41:48

A great idea to go - I would get insurance though even if it’s expensive

MountainDweller Thu 30-Nov-17 23:00:38

Yes definitely contact the embassy or check the Finnish government site about the medication. If you can get something in writing from them it would set your mind at rest. I am on about a dozen prescription meds including benzodiazepines and opiates and for a recent trip to
Australia I emailed the Australian import office about them. I got an email back listing the status of each drug - basically they were all OK but limited to a 3-month supply. I was advised to take the medication in its original packaging and carry the prescriptions and a letter from my doctor saying he had prescribed the meds. I took a copy of the email as well. I had to declare them at customs but when I did I was waved through without being asked for the documentation - but better safe than sorry. It might well be simpler for Finland. (I was too scared to travel through the Middle East though after reading tales of people being thrown into prison for carrying otc codeine!)

I wouldn’t travel without insurance though.

I hope you are able to go and have a wonderful trip.

nocoolnamesleft Thu 30-Nov-17 23:20:13

Okay, what would happen if you became ill on the flight, and the plane had to divert, costing the airline tens of thousands, and potentially much more again in hospital bills?

If you have insurance, then the airline and the hospital get their bills paid by them. If not, well, basically bankruptcy.

Crumbs1 Thu 30-Nov-17 23:28:18

I’ve never had any problems. Flew to Egypt when I was between surgery and chemo. Flew to Tunisia after last round of chemo.

Never had problems at security and I carry a nebuliser and loads of drugs in hand luggage. Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your GP (I’ve never been asked for it). They’ve gone happily through in France, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Tunisia, UAE, Turkey, Hungary, Romania and a few others.

I didn’t have a pic but that is unlikely to affect scanner as it’s plastic. Same with portocath.

I wouldn’t however travel without insurance despite it being expensive. It’s not about emergency treatment, it’s about repatriation if necessary, it’s about intensive care if necessary, it’s about costs incurred by family having to extend their stay etc. You can’t risk travelling without good insurance, ever again. All Clear do a good quote.

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