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Vacation tips for breast cancer patients

Reports claim that cancer, one of the most feared diseases, is something that one out of every three Koreans faces during their lifetime.

Fifty-four-year-old Yu was diagnosed with stage-2 breast cancer two years ago. She had exercised regularly and enjoyed outdoor sports before, but chemotherapy and other treatments have worn her out.

This summer she is planning to take a late summer vacation.

“Breast cancer is a little different from other cancers. Conventionally the so-called survival rate consists of chances of people living more than five years after the treatment. But in case of breast cancer, it is 10 years because the chances of relapse is higher than other diseases and therefore, the risk is higher,” said Dr. Moon Byung-in of Ewha Womans University Medical Center. “Therefore, one needs extra attention when going overseas,” he added.

Moon gave some advice for breast cancer patients planning to take a holiday.

1. Try to move a lot during flight: If you are planning to take an airplane to the destination, one thing you should know is that flights take up a lot of energy. This can seriously affect one’s overall health, especially if you are already suffering from a serious health problem. Try to refrain from taking long flights but, if you must, try to keep moving by walking the aisles repeatedly to improve blood circulation.

2. Eat healthily: Fast foods or quick snacks are more convenient on vacations but not a good idea. Fast foods contain lots of sodium, fats and animal protein while lacking vitamins and minerals, which could seriously weaken the immune system. Try to search for fresh vegetables and fruits.

3. Don’t try to exercise too much: It is natural that you walk around more than usual during vacations because you may want to see more and experience more of the exotic environment. But keep the “50 minute walk then 10 minute break” regime to prevent fatigue.

4. Take emergency kits and medicines: Consult with your doctors in advance and make sure you bring all medicines with you. Note the dosage on the packaging so that even strangers could assist you in case of emergency. If your condition deteriorates, visit local doctors and ask for advice.

5. Stay positive: The main reason doctors allow you on vacations is because this can make you calm and happy, which is essential for coping with breast cancer. The secretion of endorphins helps strengthen the immune system.

“I think taking holidays help one’s cancer status improve. But the patient must consult with the doctor in advance to prevent any possible mishaps,” Moon said. “Also, I recommend mountains where you can take a walk in the forest rather than crowded seaside.”

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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