Cancer Tips Health

Wear a mask, save a life

I’m going to share a perspective that is so simple to me, yet has been lost in controversy. Wear a mask, save a life.

Be assured that this isn’t a post about politics or constitutional rights or anything like that. It’s about being kind and looking out for others, being part of a community and taking responsibility for your actions. 

While almost 3 million people have been infected with COVID-19 in the United States, and over 131,000 have DIED from the virus (my own state of Michigan has almost 74,000 cases and over 6,200 deaths),* we fight about wearing face coverings. And maintaining social distance, shopping, getting a haircut, eating at a restaurant. Not all people, but enough. And as a cancer survivor, health advocate, and someone who wants to live in a more positive and kind world, I decided it’s time to put in my own request: wear a mask, save a life.

As a cancer survivor, wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands, compromised immune system and not going places isn’t new. Most of us in treatment, and even after treatment, endure these actions. That’s partly why it’s been baffling, and more than a little sad, to watch and hear so much negativity, anger and selfishness when we should be coming together to stop this pandemic.

Be a community

I truthfully get so disheartened at the negativity surrounding something that should be so easy as wearing a face covering. Seriously, this is what causes my anxiety to rise. We’re in the midst of a worldwide pandemic! These protests against wearing a mask scream privilege and selfishness to me. It’s without regard to the health of others. If you can help prevent someone from getting sick or even worse, dying, by simply wearing a face covering, why wouldn’t you?? What if it was your family member?

What baffles me is why wearing a mask has become such a line in the sand for some people. I don’t recall any protests with guns or screaming customers with ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’ rules. Private businesses have been setting guidelines for their stores for decades. What gives, America?

If it’s politics, then we need to leave that at the door. Because this virus is threatening lives, killing people, damaging our economy. It doesn’t care about your political party. And it can be contained….if we all act a little selfless. Being part of a community means taking care of others.

While there is much still to learn about this virus, we do know that people can be asymptomatic carriers, the virus can be passed in the air when too close to another and there are basic actions we can take to help stop the spread. And, darn, we NEED to stop the spread before more people die, others have long term health side effects, our economy suffers and more challenges arise. And we CAN do it. We simply need to WORK TOGETHER.

Be part of the solution, not problem. 
Be a masked warrior! Wear a mask, save a life

May I bluntly share my perspective? If you don’t like being told to stay home, businesses need to close, kids have to learn virtually because schools can’t open, trips are canceled, events are postponed ….then wear a mask. When more restrictions come down (again), and they will come if things continue to trend as they are, those who refuse to work as a community in society can only look in a mirror

I am not a scientist working on a vaccine or treatment, nor a clinical worker treating patients (thank you to these people!). But I am a cancer survivor and see the stress this pandemic is causing patients. Treatments postponed, no family/friends with them during appointments, anxiety over asymptomatic people and more. And that’s just cancer. Think about all the other diseases and other issues affecting people around you. So I can do something as simple as wear a face covering out of respect for other customers, employees and those exhausted workers keeping us going. Wearing a mask seems like the simplest act one can do, for themselves and others. 

Life goes on

You CAN still be social, have fun, be active today. You just might have to put some thought into it, use more caution and compromise. I am spending in-person time with family and some friends. We stay outdoors, ensure hand sanitizer and/or soap and water is plentiful and use common sense to keep everyone safe. I choose to not yet dine at a restaurant, whether indoor or outdoors, but that’s my choice. Some friends feel very comfortable eating on a restaurant patio, thanks to the guidelines and caution of employees and customers. Curbside pickup from local restaurants is an awesome option. I’m biking and camping with friends; we just use caution and space (and our own tents). It takes a bit of creativity to engage in this new world. But it’s not impossible and if everyone involved makes efforts, it can be relaxing and fun! 

A cancer survivor’s perspective

As a three-time cancer survivor, I definitely am not interested in getting this virus. I am far enough out of treatment that I am not considered high-risk, however, I would never assume it won’t hit me hard because I’m young and healthy. It’s like going through chemo – just because one person reacted a certain way to a drug doesn’t mean someone else will react the same way. I also don’t want to chance the long-term damage risks, especially since my body already endured enough through two chemo protocols. There is too much unknown about this virus to risk my health, and others’ health.

Kindness matters.

While much of society freaks out about masks, plans and more, I find my cancer experiences oddly grounding me. Here’s how:

  • Think social distancing sucks? Go through cancer.
  • Think wearing a mask is stupid? Go through cancer.
  • Concerned about long-term effects of the virus? Go through cancer. 
  • Upset about canceling trips and plans? Go through cancer. 
  • Worried about your hair growth? Go through cancer.
  • Friends ditch you because they want to go out/have a normal life and you’re not ready? Go through cancer. 
  • Wondering how many parts of society can be selfish and lack care about their community? Go through cancer. 
  • Impatient for this virus to end so life can go back to normal? Go through cancer. But you’ll discover that there is a new normal.
A few kind requests to support our communities:
  • Wear a mask when in public places, especially inside. Do this for yourself and others. You don’t know what someone else is going through, or who they may care for at home.
  • If you don’t like a store’s mask policy, then don’t go. This can go both ways. I recently pulled into the parking lot of a local business and watched numerous people enter/exit without a mask. I could see inside the store and noticed only a few employees wore masks. So I chose to shop at another store where I would be more comfortable. 
  • Don’t yell or be rude to employees if you are told to wear a mask, wait in a line to enter the store or whatever else. These employees are simply doing their jobs and enforcing rules. Go somewhere else if you aren’t happy or comfortable with their rules. But Do.NOT.Be.A.Jerk.
  • If you choose to not wear a mask in a store that doesn’t require it, be respectful of others’ personal space. In fact, be respectful of people’s personal space in any store/place.
  • Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face (this has been hard for me!).
  • Remember that we’re all part of a community. If you want to shop, go to school, travel, whatever outside of your home, then working as a community to stop this virus is important.
Wear a mask, save a life

It seems pretty easy to me. Wear a mask, save a life. It could be yours. It could be someone else’s. Either way, that life is important. 

*CDC, as of this post.

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