Jacqui Graham and her grandaughter Maysa. Graham designed her mask to help Maysa during the pandemic as she suffers from cystic fibrosis. Photo supplied

Jacqui Graham and her grandaughter Maysa. Graham designed her mask to help Maysa during the pandemic as she suffers from cystic fibrosis. Photo supplied

Mask-wearing gets personal for Vancouver Island woman

Grandmother overcoming her fears and creatively masking up for loved ones

It’s a challenge for Jacqui Graham to wear a mask.

As an asthmatic and as someone who suffers from claustrophobia, mask-wearing is difficult.

“I’ve been standing in line at a store, and sometimes I’m afraid I’ll pass out. I’ve been thinking about it from my own personal standpoint — yes, it’s annoying and inconvenient. (But) wearing masks not only affects us but others; I’ve been working through it and I’m (wearing a mask) for a few reasons.”

The Comox Valley resident explained not only is she continuing to wear her mask, but decided to make it personal. Her nine-year-old granddaughter Maysa has cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease that mainly affects the digestive system and lungs.

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Graham said if Maysa contracts COVID-19, it could have a devastating effect on her. So far throughout the pandemic, she has been extra careful but has been doing well.

“I want her to have a healthy, long life. Also, wearing a mask is difficult for me, but I can do it. Some people get upset when you don’t wear a mask (despite a medical reason) so it’s easier to blend in (if I wear it).”

A few days ago, Graham was in downtown Courtenay when she came across westcoastelements — a digital printing store on 5th Street. She saw in their window display a sign for personalized masks and decided she wanted to make one that is indeed very personal.

Additionally, she wanted to support a local business and one that opened during the pandemic (westcoastelements opened in September).

Next to a photo of Maysa, Graham had printed on the mask: ‘I mask up for Maysa’ in black bold letters. It is made of two-layer fabric with space for a filter and has a nosepiece. She noted adding the photo makes it personal.

“There’s so many of us that are facing pandemic fatigue, and I’m hoping it encourages anyone to wear a mask,” said Graham. “It’s something I can do because we all feel so helpless.”

Graham is hoping to encourage others to do the same with their masks, whether it is for a family member or friend.

She wore her personalized mask in public for the first time Dec. 13 to run some errands, and while she hasn’t garnered many reactions yet, she’s hoping to engage the public and encourage everyone to “mask up.”

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