Many women with cancer or autoimmune diseases find it hard not to get the flu, which can often trigger a relapse. Since none of us enjoys chemo or plasmapheresis or IVIG, I have to address this subject. The best way to avoid getting the flu is to never leave the house. But this is not practical! Many of you are mothers who will inevitably interact with other children who are your kids’ playmates and classmates. Unless you avoid all social gatherings with friends and family, you will occasionally eat out at restaurants and go shopping. Some of you, despite having very painful and tiring illnesses, are forced to work to pay for your endless medical bills.
This is a position I know all too well, as someone with four major illnesses, who has been rejected from Social Security and Medicaid multiple times. Also, because of my weak immune system, I can’t get the flu shot or any vaccine. Wearing masks at work everyday has made it easier to avoid getting the flu. I’ve noticed that the more I wear masks, the fewer “close calls” I experience. I buy my masks at Walgreen’s–see them here:
How to Look Great While Wearing Masks
For a long time, I thought I looked stupid with my gloves and masks. But then I realized that if I treat them like they’re not a big deal, most people will do the same. Here are tips for looking great:
- Walk into the room smiling. When you’re smiling, it shows in your eyes even though your mouth is covered.
- Act like they’re accessories akin to a necklace or barrette.
- Educate people who ask questions. When someone asks you why you’re wearing a mask, tell him or her about your illness. Don’t go into details you don’t feel comfortable sharing like “my current white blood cell count is…” But explain why your immune system is down.
- Wear eyeliner. I love Tarte’s EmphasEYES Waterproof Amazonian Clay Shadow/Liner, which lives up to its promise of lasting 12 hours! (This is the eyeliner I’m wearing in the picture.) The box comes with helpful diagrams and instructions. I don’t wear eyeliner everyday. When I’m running late, I find it’s more important to get to work on time than have Mad Men “cat eyes.” (Later, I’ll be ranking the best eyeliners. Check out this picture of Tarte’s product from Sephora.com; I love Sephora!)
What to Do If You Know Someone Who Wears Gloves & Masks
I used to have an officemate who asked me every time she saw me in a mask, “ARE YOU OKAY?” She would ask it in a dramatic, loud tone as if I just had a stroke. And she always asked at staff meetings. When someone wears gloves and masks, it’s not necessary to always ask how she’s doing or to ask in public. If you’re going out to a restaurant or store, you can do little things for your friend like open doors so she can avoid germs. If you really want to know what she experiences, you can try wearing gloves and a mask for a whole day!
For those of you with illnesses, how do you avoid getting colds or the flu? What has helped you most?
–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno