What being able to travel means after a cancer diagnosis

For those of you who are new to my blog here is a little background;

I was diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2015 which is currently in remission and I spent 6 months in hospital undergoing high dose, intense chemotherapy.  So as you can imagine surviving is something I am grateful for every single day.

I get asked a lot if it has changed me and the answer is yes, in many ways, mostly for the better, but also in ways I’d never have imagined.  Living for today; making memories, spending quality time with loved ones and great friends is now very important to me.  Yes, this sounds like a cliché but facing your own mortality in the way I have certainly makes you value these things.  I know how it feels to be on the brink and really all you have is memories because the material things mean nothing.

A diagnosis like this takes a lot away from you; friendships, your career, independence, identity, the life you’ve built and your physical health.  During my six months in hospital, undergoing intense treatment, I had plenty of time for regrets.  It was a massive wakeup call because, like most of us, I’d never considered that my life would be over at the age of 39.  But here I was suddenly faced with a diagnosis that meant for a time I was under Palliative care.

An important part of coming to terms with your life with cancer (often referred to as ‘the new normal’) is still being able to do the things you want to do.  One of these is being able to go on holiday, attend a family wedding abroad or visiting loved ones overseas.  There are many reasons why and one is that after going through cancer treatment a break away means you can start to repair your mental health and relationship health.  We all know the benefits of a holiday and a cancer diagnosis puts so much stress on us and our loved ones so it’s even more crucial.

My travel insurance experience

This was my first time travelling abroad since my diagnosis because I hadn’t felt emotionally strong enough so staying close to home was what I wanted to do initially.  However, when our friends asked if we would join them for a few days in Paris I made myself say yes because I felt that being with them would make it easier.  This trip was also part of a group cycle ride which is something my Husband had been wanting to do for a long time.

The time came when I needed to sort out travel insurance, which I had put off because I knew it would throw up emotions, I try to ignore most of the time.  I’d heard many stories of people being faced with massive premiums and as our financial situation has also been affected because of my cancer I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford a large sum.

While getting an online quote I was faced with; ‘Travellers restrictions, Anna Mamwell will not be insured’ outlined by a big red box, highlighting yet again the impact of my diagnosis.

To most people this probably seems trivial but I am only 43 (diagnosed at 39) so to be turned down for something like this was upsetting.  You see it was not so much about the actual insurance but about what it represented and how it made me feel.  I felt pretty alone because it struck me that when most of my friends book a holiday the last thing, they need to worry about is whether they’ll be able to get insurance or that I will be more than the holiday itself.  Being refused insurance isn’t a nice feeling.

Then after speaking to some friends about this insurance knock back several of them recommended Insurancewith, a big relief especially as they were recommended by people I trust.  Also, I knew these friends were speaking from experience as they were my cancer friends.

When I was completing the online questions for Insurancewith I was immediately struck by how much they understood about my type of Leukaemia, not something I come across very often. It was obvious that I was in the right hands and that they would be making an informed decision about my premium rather than the other company who point blank refused.  I was very impressed with the questions because they were written using the correct terms and were all extremely relevant meaning, they were interested in making a fair assessment and not making assumptions based on their lack of knowledge about it.

Feeling safe and reassured is really important because you become very insecure and going abroad makes you feel more vulnerable, this is one of the reasons I’d put it off.  Therefore, it is essential that you know the cover you have is the right cover and your insurers fully understand this and I know Insurancewith do.

Our time in Paris was such a tonic, we forgot all our worries about my health, had fun, laughed and enjoyed the company of our friends as well as soaking up the Parisian atmosphere.  It’s hard to put into words how much this trip meant to me, it’s given lots of wonderful memories to treasure.

IMG_7431
Fun times playing ‘Dead Ants’ … Anyone any ideas ??

When my husband arrived at the Eiffel Tower and saw me there to meet him after several days of hard cycling, he was very emotional because of what it meant.  Knowing what a tough journey we have been on for the past four years to get to that point where we were doing normal things again.

With more and more people surviving cancer and living with cancer for many years because of medical advances should this be how it is with pretty much all the travel insurers?  Thankfully Insurancewith are taking the correct line by actually understanding the disease.

Have you had a similar experience? Please comment as I’d love to hear from you

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