PUBLISHED ON: 3 December 2018

Travel blogger Jenni Sheldon tells us how she's as determined as ever to see the world, despite her cancer diagnosis.

Jenni on a boat with mask and snorkel

Going back five years, I was scared of flying

I would never have considered going further than Europe, even though I dreamt of travelling the world.

Fast forward a couple of years and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It made me realise what genuine fear was.

I thought, if I can get through chemotherapy and side effects of cancer treatment, I can sit on a plane for a few hours.

I kept dreaming of the places I was going to visit

It got me through the dark days during treatment.

When I was at my lowest I would plan the places I was going to see when I got well again.

It took me over a year to have the physical strength, as well as the courage, to do my first major trip outside of Europe.

I went to China on my own, and it was such an eye-opener. I then explored Thailand, Cuba, America…

Jenni on her travels

People said I was an inspiration

I hated that. I didn’t want to talk about my cancer and I really didn't think I was doing anything different from everyone else who had been through a cancer diagnosis.

I started blogging about my travels, mainly to tell my friends what I was getting up to.

But then fellow cancer patients started asking me for advice and I started opening up about my cancer experience and how it affected my travels.

I realised when people were saying I was brave and an inspiration to be able to travel independently, it was because they were scared of doing the same even though they wanted to.

Travelling after a cancer diagnosis is possible

It may have to be done slightly differently and require a little more planning, but it's still manageable.

When my first reader contacted me to say I gave her the willpower to book the trip she had been wanting to do – and that she had the best time – it made all my blogging seem worthwhile.

In December 2017 I started to feel unwell. Thinking I had worn myself out with all the travelling, I spent some time at home. But my symptoms got worse.

In January I was diagnosed with secondaries

My breast cancer had spread to my liver, lungs and bones. I was absolutely devastated, but the main thing upsetting me was that I still had so many places to visit.

Chemotherapy started again, but I didn't stop planning my trips.

I started travelling the UK when I was feeling well enough.

I was still sharing my stories and the support I was getting online was wonderful. Now, my followers already knew about me and I felt I could be so much more open about my treatment.

Jenni standing behind a statue

I will not let secondary cancer stop me travelling

There are a few more obstacles in my way now, such as insurance premiums.

There are companies out there that specialise in travelling with cancer. My advice is to contact them by phone, even if you get a ridiculously high quote online, as they still might insure you at a lower rate.

I have symptoms such as nausea, fatigue and peripheral neuropathy, so I factor in rest time. I know I can't be nonstop sightseeing, so I prioritise the places I really want to visit and take it a little slower.

When I was told I would be having treatment every three weeks for the foreseeable future, I truly believed that it was the end of my travels, especially long-haul.

But as time passed, I started to realise I can still visit these places. I might not be able to go off months at a time, but I will just have to do shorter trips.

As long as I can carry on travelling, I will find a way.

Visit Jenni's blog Travel to Recovery


If you're planning a trip abroad, read our tips first.

Travelling with breast cancer