A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Traveling for cancer care: 3 questions to ask

What to know when traveling for cancer care

Each type of cancer has a different course of treatment. You may be required to stay overnight near a treatment facility. Here are three questions to ask when traveling for cancer care.

Each type of cancer has a different course of treatment. Sometimes, that treatment requires you or a loved one to stay overnight near the treatment facility.

Some treatments, such as stem cell transplants, require you to stay for an extended period. Other treatments may be faster, but are far away or have side effects that do not allow you to drive home that day.

No matter the situation, staying overnight on top of receiving cancer treatments can be expensive. Below are some things you should know before you travel for cancer care.

Ask about local amenities

Some medical centers have created lodging options close by that are available at a free or reduced cost.

“We created Cattails Cottage so our cancer patients could reduce their costs when travelling for specialized cancer treatments at our medical center,” said Sherri Kaiser, manager of Cattails Cottage, which provides lodging to patients that have to travel to Marshfield Medical Center in Marshfield, Wisconsin for cancer care. “Living in rural Wisconsin has many perks, but it can also mean having to travel for health care.”

National organizations also coordinate many different options. For instance, Ronald McDonald House is a common option that provides lodging for children and their parents when they come for cancer treatments.

If free or reduced cost lodging is not available, your care team also may be able to provide you with special rates at local hotels. Talk with your care team for more information.

Ask about support groups

One of the biggest issues when travelling for cancer care is that you may be far away from your family and support system. For some, it may be important to create a support system at the medical complex.

Some medical centers or lodging options, such as Cattails Cottage, have support groups available so you can connect with people going through cancer treatments.

“Marshfield Clinic Health System has several support groups that meet to help patients through their journey,” Kaiser said. “I think staying with others that are going through similar journeys can create important bonds during this time.”

To stay connected, Kaiser also recommends talking with family often on the phone or connecting via video chat if you are away for an extended period of time.

Ask what treatments are available closer to home

While you may need to go to a special medical complex for rare procedures or treatments, oftentimes follow-up care such as chemotherapy or radiation treatments can be provided closer to home.

“At Marshfield Clinic Health System, we have six cancer centers that provide most of the cancer treatments patients need,” Kaiser said. “Sometimes patients need the special treatments we can offer here at Marshfield Medical Center, but we work with our other cancer centers so that their care can be close to home.”

Talk to your provider about available options to keep your care close to home.

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