Protecting Yourself From the Cold and Flu Season

The busy holiday season is in full force and so is cold and flu season. Spending more time in the public with shopping and parties can make us more susceptible to catching something. Many of us living with lung cancer have a compromised immune system and we need to be cautious. Even if your immune system is strong, the flu or respiratory infections can lead to more dangerous issues like pneumonia. So, what can you do?

Get the flu and pneumonia shot


Ask your oncologist first, but I have always been encouraged to get the flu and pneumonia shot. Everyone close to me in my family also gets flu shots. They aren’t 100% effective, but I have yet to get the flu in my 8 years since diagnosis.

Stop the spread of germs

Wash your hands

This sounds simple but it’s one of the most effective things you can do. Use soap for 20 seconds or sing the birthday song twice (I prefer to use my name when singing 😊). Be sure to rub between your fingers and under nails if possible. I always wash as soon as I get home from running errands or being with others.

Antibacterial wipes and gel

I don’t use these excessively, but I do wipe down my steering wheel and door handles in the house with wipes weekly. You can do this daily during flu season. I only use the gel if I’m out and can’t wash any time soon. You can buy the kind without alcohol to prevent drying especially if your meds cause dry or painful skin.

Take airborne precautions

Wear a mask

I always wear a disposable mask when I fly (which is a lot) and I have never gotten sick. FYI if you wear them on a plane and fly Southwest where seats are not assigned people tend to pass you by and only sit by you if the plane is full. One time I wrote on my mask “It’s you, not me” because people tend to stare.

I was once told you need to wear the N95 respirator masks, but the cheap disposable anti-viral masks have worked fine for me. You can find them at most drug stores and Target. You can also wear them when you go out in public or if a visitor has a cold. I usually tell them to come over only if there are not sick but sometimes it’s necessary.

Practice healthy lifestyle choices


This is such an underestimated tool to stay healthy. Our bodies heal and rejuvenate when we sleep. This is so important especially for a cancer patient. Try to get 8 hours if you can. The holidays are such a busy time and it’s easy to get run down. This can weaken your immune system.

Eat healthy

This is something we should strive for every day but especially during the holidays when we are bombarded with sweet treats. Sugar has also been known to weaken the immune system just as a diet high in fruits and vegetables improves immune function. I like to make veggie soup. It’s an easy way to get in veggies every day and you can make enough to last for days or even freeze some for later.

Do you have any tips?

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season. I hope you find these tips helpful and can get through this cold and flu season unscathed. Do you have any tips to add? Share in the comments!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.