How A Personalized Mask Made A Difference In One Cancer Survivor’s Outlook


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, one personalized mask helped this cancer survivor forge ahead through the challenges of quarantine, and the challenges ahead.

To get a few masks from Amazon is one thing, but to get a personalized one from someone special is quite a treat.

That’s what happened this summer when a generous gift from a dear friend in my cancer support group became my prized possession. What better way than to protect my health and others while making a statement about my passion?

I am an author, blogger and former newspaper reporter. Ann, my friend from the cancer support group, asked me what symbol would go best with my own mask. “Your choice,” I said. Of course, I would be delighted with anything Ann chose. This whole thing sounded really cool. When the mask arrived in the mail a couple of days later, it displayed two symbols: An old-fashioned fountain pen and a bottle of ink. How appropriate for a retired journalist with printer’s ink in my blood!

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This mask is my prized possession!

Writing has become my salvation during a pandemic with no end in sight. My blog is dominated by posts on how I’m coping during this prolonged self-isolation. Throw in being a cancer survivor and I will never run out of things to write.

Personalized masks

Ann also surprised her dental hygienist with a mask adorned with a snazzy toothbrush and personalized masks for other members of our support group.

Since the pandemic, I have been stockpiling masks. My wife and I ordered four from a cancer accessories company that we discovered on the internet and added four more through a local company that we wanted to support in our troubled economy. I also got a special delivery of a patterned mask and a bottle of sanitizer from my Gilda’s Writing Club. You can never have too many masks.

But it is Ann’s mask that stuck the deepest chord with me during these hunkering-down days. She took this whole mask thing a big step forward, tailoring the unique gifts out of love and friendship. I wear it with pride and gratitude.

This generous friend also donned her own mask for a new Facebook profile picture, sending a proactive message to all during this health crisis. She challenged me to change my profile picture as well, and I plan to follow her excellent example!

Masks help save lives

Her gift comes at a time when a new modeling study estimates that nearly 130,000 lives could be spared by the end of February 2021 from the onslaught of the coronavirus through universal mask-wearing. The study was published in October in the journal Nature Medicine and it is a reminder we still have a long way to go before COVID-19 is no longer an immediate worry.

So, let’s all mask up for the safety and health of the cancer community and everyone else. We can play an important role in the fight against the deadly virus. And we can also still touch one another’s lives, as Ann did for me.

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