On the morning of Friday, February 20, 2015 Stacey received a call from her doctor to report to the emergency room immediately as her blood counts were critically low. After several weeks of fatigue, Stacey had decided to visit her doctor to see if something was causing this. Her doctor’s appointment had been a regular checkup and blood tests the previous afternoon. This appointment, like so many cancer stories, started a new and life changing journey.
On February 25th, Stacey was informed that she had Acute Myeloid Leukemia and an aggressive 10 day chemo protocol was started. Due to her weakened immune system, Stacey was put in isolation. Every visitor and staff member was required to wear a surgical mask the entire time they were in the isolation area. Carolinas Medical Center Isolation area includes about 16 units with a dedicated nursing staff and highly secured entry. Jeff, Stacey’s husband, has always been the “class clown” and a gifted artist. Jeff decided to “lighten the mood and bring a smile to Stacey’s face” by drawing a funny caricature nose and mouth on his “blue surgical mask”. Thus began the tradition and the birth of “Mask-ER-Aides”.
Mask-ER-Aides are fun surgical masks designed to bring a smile to the faces of those who cannot see smiles on their visitors’ faces. Patients confined to isolation for days or weeks are met every minute of every day with the same blank blue/white/sterile rectangle. These blue rectangles hide the smiles, frowns and often personality of the person. Jeff’s caricature masks were an instant hit with the nurses and doctors. Soon the nurses and doctors requested a caricature mask of their own. Smiles and laughter, started seeping into the oncology isolation department of CMC’s main hospital.
Easter Sunday Mask-ER-Aides
The daily impact of these fun and light-hearted masks made its biggest impact on Easter Sunday. Jeff made Easter-themed masks for the nurses, several patients and family members to bring joy and laughter to the floor.
Fun Surgical Masks Wherever They are Needed
“Mask-ER-Aides” bring a smile to every face that sees them. Our hope is to populate each Pediatric Oncology and Adult Oncology department with “Mask-ER-Aides” to aid in lifting the attitudes and promoting the healing of every cancer patient.