Hurricanes unfortunately don’t discriminate when they make landfall. Hurricane Harvey is a reminder that it’s important for cancer patients and caregivers to take extra measures to protect themselves during a natural disaster. When patients are undergoing therapy, they become susceptible to infections and illness due to low white, red blood counts and low platelets. In these scenarios, water can be contaminated or wounds can occur through sharp debris which increases the risk of illness. A patient might have to relocate so it is imperative to be prepared to be cared for by different medical professionals that are not part of their regular team. There are ways to reduce confusion and streamline the continuity of care. Here are some tips from National Cancer Institute- https://www.cancer.gov/contact/emergency-preparedness
- Talk with your health care provider about what to do and how you will stay in contact in the event of a disaster.
- Make a plan with your family, friends, and neighbors – whoever may need to help you during a disaster event.
- Know your exact diagnosis, cancer stage, and any medications you take. If you are receiving chemotherapy or radiation, know where you are in your treatment cycle.
- If you are on a clinical trial, know the trial number (NCT number, preferably), Principal Investigator, hospital, and drugs or treatments being given.
- Make sure you have your health care provider’s contact information and other important phone numbers with you at all times. Cell phones may not work and batteries can drain, so be sure to have important phone numbers written down on the card or elsewhere.
- If you have insurance, make sure to carry your insurance card. Contact your insurance provider in the event you are displaced and need to seek care.
- Make a kit with items you may need like dressings, antiseptic, medications, a thermometer, etc. Put them in a zip lock bag to keep them dry.