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Welcome to the Maskerade Ball

· DYP,oral cancer survivor,radiation mask,cancer survivor,motivational speaker

April Fool’s Day and his evil twin Halloween are plotting against us. Together they’re hijacking the other 363 days of this year. If Stephen King suffers writer’s block for his next horror novel, look no further, Mr. King, then the front page of the newspaper or the 11:00 news for inspiration. I challenge anyone to find a reality tv producer who could script the unfolding of 2020.

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Masks take center stage in this emotional real-life epic tale of suspense, fear, drama, and madness. Everywhere I look, I see masks. They have the power and the potential to protect us, save lives, conceal our identity, or be a form of self-expression. With October 31 not far off, I’m eager to see the parade of COVID-19 friendly disguises which can amuse or terrify, access our alter ego, be the ultimate decoration, and, hopefully, scare off the coronavirus and the boogie man.

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Pre-epidemic, the medical industry did not have a monopoly when it came to mask-wearing. What about the catcher behind home plate, the manicurist at the salon, a carpenter using heavy machinery, or a scuba diver or pilot helping them breathe? For years, I’ve also been a professional organizer helping clients declutter their homes and offices. Wearing a mask protects my lungs from vintage dust and debris.

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At home, a bucket of grab-and-go masks sits on a counter next to my garage door. Masks with filters, breathing holes, adjustable straps, multiple folds, or smooth. Masks with nose wires and some without. Colorful masks with intricate designs, flowers, logos, camo, or solid. Of course, the ubiquitous packet of blue and white paper masks. My choice dictated by an outfit, how I’m feeling, or the events of the day.

As shared in previous blogs, oral cancer left me with a visible scar running from my lower lip and down to my chin eliciting reactions ranging from obvious stares to curious passing glances. In these epidemic times, I’ve played head games with myself wondering if people treat me differently since my scar hides behind a mask. What an interesting experiment this would make!

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There is one last unique mask I’ve worn which sets me apart from the crowd. A one-of-a-kind mask, a mask which saved my life, a mask I pray I never need again…my radiation mask. For 3 months straight in 2012 and again in 2013, 5 days a week, 15 minutes per session I wore it to receive my daily dose of radiation treatment for head and neck cancer.

To create a mask, the radiation therapist placed a warm, wet sheet of plastic mesh over my face shaping it along every distinct facial contour and ridge. As it cooled and hardened, the finished product resembled a flexible plastic fisherman’s net. Next, the doctor used this cast to map out a treatment plan to target the cancer cells.

This cancer couture, custom-designed especially for me, never made it down the catwalk or a fancy party. Instead, it made an appearance every time I laid down on a nondescript table covered in a thin paper sheet. The mask placed over my face and locked into position immobilized me, ensuring I remained in the same spot every time. That mask and I became close, really close, but on my final day of treatment, I thanked it for working hard, then I walked out the door and never looked back. I couldn’t say good-bye to it fast enough.

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This year might be filled with more tricks than treats, or perhaps we’ll all wake up and realize the joke’s on us. Whether you view this year as a comedy of errors, a Greek tragedy, a story of good versus evil, or a saga of perseverance, I am hopeful for reconciliation and a happy ending. And when the Corona show finally comes to a close, I’ll thank my collection of masks for outstanding performance, for making my world a safer place, and when the time is right I’ll say farewell and once again never look back.

I DYP – Discovering My Power, My Way by the masks I wear. Could this work for you?

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