With flu and cold season on its way, it is extra important that cancer survivors and caretakers alike take extra precautions to avoid getting sick. Here are our top tips:
- Wash your hands: Take your time scrubbing your hands with soap. Try reciting the alphabet as you scrub, as it will give you a good gauge on if it has been long enough. Run your hands under warm water and don't forget to dry them with a clean towel when you are done.
- Carry hand sanitizer with you and use it often: Germs lurk everywhere. Think about it-- you are out and about, pushing grocery carts, touching money and door handles, or shaking hands with others who may be sick. Even movie theater seat handles, your cell phone, or computer keyboard can be germ magnets. Washing your hands throughout the day is generally not enough so consider using a good hand sanitizer throughout the day.
- Get a flu shot: Speak with your doctor prior to make sure that the flu shot is right for you. If it is, consider getting yours right away.
- Keep your hands out of your face, mouth, eyes and nose. Don't touch your lips either.
- Avoid sick people: Schools, workplaces, and small confined spaces can be dangerous places for the immune compromised. Airplanes can also pose serious hazards. If you must go to places where you will be exposed to sick people, and especially if your immune system is struggling, consider wearing a mask.
- Do not share drinks, food or eating utensils with anyone, ever
- Stay away from buffets and store samples: Costco samples may look really tempting and (some) buffets are fabulous, but avoid these at all cost. You have no idea who has coughed or breathed on the food you are about to put in your mouth.
- Practice social distancing: Do not shake hands with anyone if you can avoid it. If someone appears sick, stay several feet away.
- Eat healthy: Some of the most powerful immune-boosting foods to indulge in during flu season include brown rice, Brazil nuts, oysters, salmon, garlic, chicken noodle soup, sweet potatoes, and fresh fruits and veggies. Speak with your doctor about any dietary restrictions you may have prior to changing up your diet.
- Get lots of sleep
- Stay properly hydrated: Water and herbal teas are fantastic options during cooler temps
- Get exercise: If it is cold outside, consider indoor activities, which can include cleaning your house, hitting up yoga, or going to a rec center. When the weather permits, fresh air and Vitamin D are priceless so get out when you can.
- Keep your house clean: Wash surfaces, door handles, remote controls, and even your computer keyboard. Clean homes not only help keep germs at bay but also calm your soul
- If you are sick, call your doctor immediately and report symptoms, especially if you spike a fever
about the author
Lizzy Smith was diagnosed with myeloma in 2012 at age 44. Within days, she left her job, ended her marriage, moved, and entered treatment. "To the extent I'm able, I want to prove that despite life's biggest challenges, it is possible to survive and come out stronger than ever," she says.