As part of the mesothelioma treatment process, patients will likely spend a lot of time going between their homes and the treatment centers. In some cases, the treatment center may be located in other states. Not only is transportation time consuming and expensive, but it is exhausting for patients who are already enduring the physical and emotional stresses of mesothelioma. In the past several years, increasingly more resources have become available to help cancer patients with transportation.
There are special issues associated with traveling when you have a respiratory illness or disease of any kind. For example, you are more susceptible to infection and may have serious breathing difficulties making it difficult to move around. You might have to carry oxygen with you. When traveling locally on bus lines or further distances on trains and planes, you will need to notify the transportation company in advance according to their particular rules.1
Any transportation arrangements you make should be cleared by your doctor. Keeping a written doctor’s explanation of your disease on hand gives you a simple way to let someone know you have breathing difficulties or require special accommodation.
If you need help getting to your treatments or medical appointments, there are a number of sources you can pursue. For example, many churches offer volunteer services. The airlines have special programs that collect and then distribute frequent flyer miles to those needing critical medical care.
Local Travel to Treatment
For local transportation, The American Cancer Society runs a couple of very useful transportation services for cancer patients. The first is Road to Recovery and it is located in numerous cities and towns across the United States. Road to Recovery is run by volunteers who use their own vehicles to drive patients to treatments. They can also help patients in picking up medications or other supplies if necessary. Road to Recovery is free in almost all cases. They can be reached at 1-800-227-2345.
Another transportation resource for mesothelioma patients is Lifeline Transportation Program which is run by The American Cancer Society and funded by Blue Shield and Blue Cross. Lifeline Transportation Program works to unite community groups to organize transportation to treatment appointments for cancer patients. They have a strong patient services team which can also help patients find other resources and meet their travel needs. Information about Lifeline can be received at 1-800-ACS-2345.
There are numerous means of getting transportation help for mesothelioma on a local level. Many states and communities have their own services available to cancer patients. Patients can also reach out to church groups or other local organizations for help.
Traveling Long Distance
When patients need to travel long distances in order to receive mesothelioma treatment, they still have many options available to them. There are some grants and stipends which will cover travel costs for low-income mesothelioma patients and their families. There are also several organizations which will provide free air transportation.
- National Patient Travel Center helps patients, including mesothelioma patients, in need of financial support with free air travel to and from treatment. They can also help get consolidated airline tickets. This service offers a wealth of information that is beneficial to mesothelioma patients.2
- AirLifeLine is operated by volunteer pilots. If a patient cannot afford travel costs, then AirLifeLine will fly the patients to their care destination for free. They can be reached at 1-800-446-1231
- Corporate Angel Network also provides free air transport in the United States for cancer patients. They can be reached at 1-914-328-1313 and more information can be found on their website.
Patients who need to travel long distances to access medical services for purposes of diagnosis or treatment will find there are a number of organizations willing to provide help. Many of these, like AirLifeLine, are charity organizations that utilize the services of volunteer pilots include Angel Flight Central and Angel Flight Northeast (and West and Southeast) and Mercy Flight Southeast.
The Association of Community Cancer Centers offers a list of private and governmental organizations that will provide assistance with travel. This is another source for a wealth of travel information. 3
Traveling today can be difficult under any set of circumstances, but travelling while ill is particularly stressful. Planning ahead is the best step you can take to insure the stress is kept to a minimum. Don’t forget to talk about travel details with your doctor so you can prepare in advance for potential emergencies. A little forethought can go a long way towards making your trips to treatments as uneventful as possible. Don’t forget to include whoever may be traveling with you in your planning too whether you are traveling locally or long distance.
1 Oxygen/Traveling with Oxygen (2011) Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control – Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry at: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos/living_asbestos/index.html
2 Travel Resources at the NPTC (2010) Retrieved from the National Patient Travel Center at: http://www.patienttravel.org/resources.html
3 Financial and Travel Assistance (2011) Retrieved from the Association of Community Cancer Centers at: