cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Weekly Blog: Travel in the time of prostate cancer

PCFA_OC_Manager
Community Manager
Community Manager
0 0 73

By Tim Baker

Yay! We can travel again! Dust off the passports! Pull out the Hawaiian shirts and Qantas bags.

But wait! What’s this? We can’t get travel insurance for pre-existing conditions without paying a fortune? So, if we want to travel, we aren’t going to be covered for anything related to our cancer, or our holiday budget is going to take a massive hit. If you are living with advanced, metastatic disease, or even just on Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT) for localised disease, your pre-existing condition exclusions might take in a huge range of ailments.

Travelling for the man with prostate cancer is a minefield and there don’t appear to be any easy answers. Holiday at home, pay a bomb or take your chances. On top of all the other potential impacts of prostate cancer and its treatment on quality of life, this seems especially cruel.

But we don’t want to let our condition stop us doing the things we love, like travel, right? The PCFA receives a huge volume of calls on this topic and the news is both good and bad. While we can’t give specific advice on the best travel insurers, there are some excellent resources out there to help you make an informed decision.

To summarise, the official PCFA advice on travel insurance for men with PC:

  1. Men with prostate cancer can get travel insurance for medical conditions and incidents that relate to their diagnosis and the side-effects of treatment, but often it’s not comprehensive (i.e. comes with qualifications) and can be prohibitively expensive for many men and their families. That is, few insurers will give you blanket coverage of prostate cancer as a disease category, but, for example, if you experience urinary retention or similar concerns while you’re travelling, you can claim on them under readily available policies, although be sure to read the fine print to make sure your eligibility to make a claim includes medical incidents related to pre-existing conditions. 
  1. If you have private health insurance, we recommend checking with your health insurance company whether you can access coverage or any discounts under your existing policy.
  2. Before making a decision on the insurance coverage you select, it’s important to try and assess whether the coverage you are considering represents fair value and adequate protection against any risks. You can do this by comparing different options via independent websites like Finder. https://www.finder.com.au/travel-insurance-for-cancer-patients
  3. As part of this process, you might like to ask the prospective insurer about possible situations that may impact you while travelling. For example, some insurers list standard medical coverage of pre-existing conditions, such as incontinence, although we recommend you check any eligibility criteria for accessing all aspects of the coverage you need.

It’s also worth knowing that insurers can’t legally refuse to insure you, except in very specific circumstances. If you think you’ve been refused travel insurance unfairly you can take it up with any one of several organisations, including the Equal Opportunity Commission and the Human Rights Commission in your state. Both prefer to deal with complaints less than 12 months old, but they may consider older complaints in some circumstances. Both Commissions aim to conciliate or mediate complaints, which means listening to both sides and trying to reach an agreement between the two parties. The Commissions can only make recommendations, rather than orders.

If you’re trying make a claim on your existing policy and your claim has been rejected or reduced, and complaining to your insurer has brought no joy,  you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) on  1800 931 678 or go to https://www.afca.org.au

And if all this is making you nervous about travel, you could consider travelling to one of the many countries Australia enjoys reciprocal health care agreements with, where your medical costs may be covered or subsidised by Medicare. These include Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK.

Having just returned from my first overseas trip since COVID, a short hop really to the Indonesian island of Bali, all I can say is, the hassle and worry and expense of getting back out into the world is well worth it. The cost of comprehensive travel insurance? Exorbitant. The experience of roaming the planet, forgetting you are a cancer patient, and gaining a broader perspective of life? Priceless.

Cancer Victoria offers a comprehensive fact sheet on the topic with excellent advice that covers every aspect of the issue: https://www.cancervic.org.au/downloads/CISS_factsheets/Travel-Insurance-and-Cancer.pdf


About the Author

PCFA_OC_Manager_0-1667864908975.jpeg

Tim Baker is an award-winning author, journalist and storyteller specialising in surfing history and culture, working across a wide variety of media from books and magazines to film, video, and theatre. Some of his most notable books include “Occy”, a national bestseller and chosen by the Australia Council as one of “50 Books You can’t Put Down” in 2008, and “The Rip Curl Story” which documents the rise of the iconic Australian surf brand to mark its 50th anniversary in 2019. Tim is a former editor of Tracks and Surfing Life magazines. He has twice won the Surfing Australia Hall of Fame Culture Award.

Tim was diagnosed with stage 4, metastatic prostate cancer in 2015 with a Gleason score 9. He was told he had just five years of reasonable health left, but seven years on, at 57, he’s still surfing, writing, and enjoying being a dad. His latest book, Patting The Shark, also documents his cancer journey and will be published in August. Tim will be sharing weekly insights into his journey to help other men who have also been impacted by prostate cancer.


Help is Available

Prostate Cancer Specialist Telenursing Service

If your life has been impacted by prostate cancer, our Specialist Telenursing Service is available to help. If you would like to reach out to the PCFA Prostate Cancer Specialist Telenurse Service for any questions you have about your prostate cancer experience, please phone 1800 22 00 99 Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm, Wednesday 10am-8pm (AEDT).

Prostate Cancer Support Groups

PCFA is proud to have a national network of affiliated support groups in each state and territory of Australia consisting of men and women who have a passion for assisting others who encounter prostate cancer. This network is made up of over 170 affiliated groups who meet locally to provide one-to-one support, giving a vision of life and hope after treatment. Call us on 1800 22 00 99 to find your local group.

MatesCONNECT Telephone-based peer support

MatesCONNECT is a telephone-based peer support program for men affected by prostate cancer. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer, our MatesCONNECT service can connect you to a trained volunteer who understands what you’re going through. All of our volunteers have been through prostate cancer. Simply call us on 1800 22 00 99 to be connected with a volunteer.

Newly diagnosed? or need to find more information? Access the PCFA resources here.

House Rules

To help keep this community a welcoming, supportive and caring place we have put together a small list of dos and don'ts for you to think about when posting on our forum, research blog or video gallery. For further information please see our  terms and conditions.

Adhere to PCFA’s five core values of Integrity, Optimism, Compassion, Respect and Commitment.

Our online forum is for you to share experiences with others and does not contain specific medical, counselling or legal advice.  If you require professional advice specific to your individual circumstances we encourage you to see a medical professional, legal professional or counsellor.

No commercial or promotional activity. While members may share information about resources they have found helpful, the PCFA Online Community forum should not be used for the promotion of goods and services. This includes commercial entities passing themselves off as individuals and people who frequently post links to external health professionals or other services.

Be kind to each other - many people using the community are going through a difficult time. A few kind words can go a long way. Please welcome new posters – it can be very nerve-wracking to post on the forum for the first time.

If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, we encourage you to seek assistance and contact Beyond Blue Tel:1300 224 636 or Lifeline Tel:13 11 14

Speak your mind freely, but please be sensitive to the feelings and experiences of others - you might not always agree, but you can agree to disagree in a peaceful manner.

Don't use offensive language -if a user is found to be using offensive language during their conversations the moderators reserve the right to edit the thread, without warning.

Don't use all capital letters in your posts - it's considered ‘shouting' online and it makes posts difficult to read.

Give each other the benefit of the doubt - please remember that it is all too easy for the tone and meaning of posts to be misinterpreted. Think carefully before replying to a discussion. it It is important to remember that things written rather than said can feel much stronger, so please bear this in mind when reading other people's messages.

Please respect the moderators - their job is to keep the forum safe and constructive so that everybody gets to have his or her fair say.

Stay on topic - try to focus on the original topic. In particular, don't change subject in the middle of an existing thread - just start a new thread.

Read what's already on the forum before posting - you may be repeating what others have already said or asked.

We want PCFA's Online Community to be a secure and helpful environment for all of the community. So please remember that by using PCFA's Online Community you are agreeing to follow our terms and conditions.