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Flying when terminally ill

(21 Posts)
bsmirched Mon 25-Apr-16 21:31:12

My lovely sister has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. We believe that we are looking at months rather than years. She wishes to go on a last family holiday to Spain. Does anyone have any experience of how easy or difficult it will be to get her passed as fit to fly? Any thoughts or experience greatly appreciated.

CotswoldStrife Mon 25-Apr-16 21:33:37

Sorry to hear about your sister's diagnosis. Does she currently have a travel insurance policy, because I think that might be tricky to source. I hope you find a solution though (ferry?).

bsmirched Mon 25-Apr-16 21:36:18

Hi. No she's doesn't. I think driving and ferry and driving would not be feasible unfortunately.

CotswoldStrife Mon 25-Apr-16 21:54:55

Have you tried one of the cancer charity telephone helplines? They may be able to advise, sorry I can't help further. If you know which airline you are likely to use you could ask them directly if you prefer.

Chilver Mon 25-Apr-16 22:02:18

Sorry to hear about your sister's diagnosis. If you call one of the cancer charities, or a Maggie's Centre, they will have a list of travel insurers who will insure people with cancer. I know Maggie's definitely have this as I needed it. They will also be able to help you through lots of things from logistics to emotional support.

Dawnetta123 Mon 25-Apr-16 22:02:33

Sorry to hear about your sister. my husband had cancer and we flew to South Africa. It was about 10 years ago and can't remember exactly what we did regarding insurance - he was traveling to try an alternative treatment near where his family were living so it wasn't for a holiday. I know we got a letter from his consultant saying he was fit to fly and we informed the airline who arranged for him to have oxygen should he need it (although he didn't use it). Friends raised money for us and we flew business class to allow him more room as he was in a lot of discomfort.hope your sister is able to have this holiday.

scotsgirl64 Mon 25-Apr-16 22:08:32

Very sorry to hear of your sister's diagnosis/prognosis
Her cancer specialist nurse may know of some insurance companies to use- there are specialist travel insurers, otherwise have a look at MacMillan Cancer Support website (section for travel insurance)
Also ask her consultant to write a letter which assesses her as fit to fly- she may be at greater risk of DVT so ask about prophylaxis for this as well

mamadoc Mon 25-Apr-16 22:12:28

I think basically winging it is the only option.

My DMum has stage 4 (terminal) breast cancer. She has lung, bone and liver Mets. She and my dad still really love a nice foreign holiday in the sun.

She is not insurable so they just go without and take their chances. I rang around everywhere but it costs more than the holiday if it's even possible.

I persuaded them to compromise for my peace of mind on staying in Europe where there are decent hospitals, free reciprocal care under European rules and a possibility of us being able to pay to get her home. I vetoed Morocco.

In terms of just being safe she should ask her oncologist. Mum's is surprisingly unbothered and apparently cleared her to fly the week after she had an op to drain fluid and reinflate her lung. I am pretty sure my parents don't tell the airline or the holiday company but they carry a letter explaining her diagnosis and meds.

WLmum Mon 25-Apr-16 22:20:21

I agree to just doing it. Do has terminal cancer and couldn't get any insurance when we flew to Spain last year so we just did. We are so very fortunate that she is largely well atm so will be going for a repeat performance this summer. It is hugely important to her to have some family holidays while she still can and I reason that she is unlikely to take a dramatic turn for the worse over the course of one week. And if we did need to sort out emergency travel or care, we would. Between us we could sort/fund it I'm sure. The memory and joy is worth the risk in my book.
I am so very sorry for your sister and all her loved ones. Sometimes life sucks.

bsmirched Mon 25-Apr-16 23:09:40

It certainly does. Thank you all for your help and kindness.

lu9months Mon 02-May-16 21:53:16

we found a company called 'insurance with ' very helpful in insuring my husband (who has an incurable brain tumour), might be worth a call to them?

weebarra Mon 02-May-16 21:55:45

I spoke with a company called Insure Cancer when I was thinking about going abroad during treatment. They specialise in insuring people who have a terminal prognosis. I'm very sorry to hear about your sister.

JontyDoggle37 Mon 02-May-16 22:00:21

They will insure you, but for everything BUT the cancer you have. My Dad had a terminal brain tumour and collapsed while on holiday in Italy and ended up in intensive care there. Insurance raised their hands and stepped right back. It cost £14k for an intensive care air ambulance to transfer him back to intensive care in the UK and was the most stressful thing I have ever gone through. He died three weeks after we got him home. I would go for lovely luxury holiday in the UK instead.

bsmirched Mon 02-May-16 22:35:44

Thank you all for your help. She's absolutely determined to go so we will have to find a way around it somehow!

WhetherOrNot Mon 23-May-16 11:27:40

I have terminal cancer. I went to Fuerteventura on just my EHC and took the chance. All was fine. I decided they could leave me there if anything happened! p.s. insurance was extortionate so didn't take it out.

Emptynestx2 Mon 23-May-16 11:47:46

Hi, my mum had exactly the same issue, she flew without insurance and she was fine and we were all very glad that she did and have happy memories of our holiday. We didn't tell the airline, just requested assistance as she could t walk far, they don't ask why.

wannabestressfree Mon 23-May-16 11:53:43

I flew at Easter with a 24cm tumour (gist) in the bowel. They just told me not to fly too far due to the pressure on my lungs. I didn't have insurance just my card.... did me the world of good though.

Pythonesque Mon 23-May-16 12:12:08

Sorry you are in this situation, agree it should be possible to do something. The first people to talk to are her doctors, they will advise on the most important things - is she fit to travel (eg is there a risk an airline will refuse to let her on), are there any special arrangements or plans that could or should be made, timescales (eg palliative treatment x first then go after, or, go asap as she may not tolerate it later). They or possibly nursing staff could also talk her through what the risks are, what could happen, and is it likely. You do need to have at least some back-up plan for anything that has a significant risk of happening on holiday. Know what emergency care could be accessed and how if it were needed.

Travel insurance is a secondary consideration - you get insurance if you can for risks that you need cover for (eg cancellation if she gets unwell the day before you go), and take the risks that you can tolerate and/or can't get affordable insurance for (eg worst happens and she deteriorates on holiday, would you all just shell out to get her back to the UK, or treatment where she was, or whatever).

My parents managed to visit us all at Christmas, from Australia. Both had major health issues and I'm not sure they tried to get any insurance in the end. My dad was terminal and unfortunately they had to shorten the originally planned 3 months but still the time they had with my sister and I and grandchildren was worth it. Part of their planning was having money available if treatment not covered by reciprocal arrangements had been necessary. "Repatriation" expenses were irrelevant as if either had been unable to travel home they would have just stayed in the UK. The one big worry was minimising the risk of either of them becoming unwell during the flight and potentially getting stranded in the middle east. Travelling business class helped a lot. (far less of an issue for short haul!)

I hope you and your family can arrange something that will work for all of you and that it is a really memorable holiday when it comes.

blaeberry Mon 23-May-16 12:21:23

Don't try travelling without insurance to America! A friend's father had a stroke and six days in hospital would have/may cost them (the insurer is trying to wriggle out) £180,000 and that was with the pre-booked flight home.

Helenluvsrob Mon 23-May-16 12:37:39

Much hugs .

IME people who are terminally ill fly uninsured as it's very difficult/expensive to get insurance for the terminal illness. You can get cover that excludes that but for instance if you break a leg, there would be a big battle to prove no cancer related reason.

Consider repatriation expenses or what you would do if death occurred abroad. Pragmatically, for me that isn't an issue- local cremation and return of ashes shouldn't be hugely costly but if you want to bring a body back that's £££

Good luck.

Scarydinosaurs Mon 23-May-16 12:43:15

My friend was insured despite having terminal cancer- and it wasn't even very expensive. She needed a letter from her consultant.

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