12th May 2023

Travelling with Lung Cancer – Warren’s top tips!

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Proud Cabin Crew member and frequent flyer, Warren Gray is back, this time to talk about his top tips for travelling with lung cancer and how a diagnosis doesn’t mean you can’t jet set away for a well-deserved break.  

We talked with Warren about how his diagnosis impacted his work and asked for his practical tips for flying and how to make travelling less stressful for those with a lung cancer diagnosis.

RCLCF: How did your diagnosis impact your work? 

Warren: “Working as Cabin Crew is an amazing job. You get to see the world and visit the most amazing places, but that’s the perks. The role itself is much more demanding than people often realise.  

Cabin Crew are primarily on board the aircraft for safety and for that you need to be physically fit and able to evacuate an aircraft, fight a fire, complete first aid and CPR. Thankfully these situations are rare but if they arise then you need to jump into action. 

Every year, I go through very rigorous training and exams each year. Its long days with time zones varying, plus you’re at altitude for a long part of the day or night. I knew whilst going through treatment I would not be cleared as medically fit as I potentially wouldn’t be able to complete some or all of the duties required. 

This meant that throughout diagnosis and treatment, I was deemed unfit to fly and grounded during this time.” 

RCLCF: What did you have to do to return to work as Cabin Crew? 

Warren: “I’ve been very fortunate; my employers have been incredibly supportive which has really helped the situation.  

In 2022 I had upper left lobectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Post treatment I am now NED (no evidence of the disease) and in remission, which meant I can take steps to return to work.  

I had to go through medical assessments and speak with a specialist aviation doctor to make sure I was physically fit to fly again. And finally, in February this year, it happened. Fit for flying, I underwent some training and lots of practical scenarios and exams before I could step back onto an aircraft as Cabin Crew.”

RCLCF: When travelling what do you have to take into account following your diagnosis?  

Warren: “I listen to my body and ensure I’m doing all I can to remain fit and healthy. Travelling, especially when in a work capacity, can be quite physically demanding.  

I find that a balance of regular exercise and rest days in-between flights makes flying much easier.”  

RCLCF: Did you have any worries about travelling?

Warren: “I’d had half my lung removed, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and it had been over a year since I’d been on an aircraft, but I was determined to go on holiday following my treatment.  

At first, I was nervous and wondered how my body would react or how different I would feel. But it was absolutely fine.”  

RCLCF: Have you got any advice for those looking to plan a trip? 

Warren: “Think about the whole journey, from leaving your home to arriving at your holiday resort. Check-in to aircraft can sometimes be a long-haul, so make sure you’re well prepared for any delays!  

Plan ahead if assistance is required such as extra boarding time, by letting the airline know in advance. Most airlines also have a Special Assistance Department that will support people who require items such as oxygen or special equipment. It’s worth reaching out if you need additional support.  

Travel insurance is a must, even if it’s just giving you that piece of mind. And finally, check in with your doctor before travelling to make sure you are fit enough.”

Warren’s best travelling tips!

  • Make the airline aware of any specialist equipment you’ll be bringing so they can ensure it is suitable for use during the flight. 
  • Always put medication in your carryon bags in case of the dreaded lost luggage!  
  • Carry a list of medication, dosage, allergies and recent treatments in case of emergencies.
  • Keep hydrated during the flight and if drinking alcohol, drink in moderation.  
  • Most importantly, enjoy your trip and have a great time!