Dianne Perry said she might look like an astronaut when shopping and sometimes feels a little uncomfortable too, but she knows she will be safer with her specialized breathing helmet on because it allows her to do regular things.
"No, I'm not from Mars or going to the moon; I'm just someone who has become very sensitive to the environment. Some call it Multiple Chemical Sensitivities," she said.
"I'm wearing this mask to keep me protected from all the Volatile Organic Compounds in the environment that cause me to become ill."
Ms Perry said everyday things like smoke, fumes, perfume, cleaning products, deodorant, and even flowers and cooking smells emit VOCs and can trigger her.
There is no clear pattern to this condition, and what affects her can be very unpredictable.
When she comes in contact with the irritants, she can experience asthma-like symptoms, coughing, and feeling as if she can't get enough air into her lungs; she can get a headache, which can also affect her voice.
"I've sought advice from multiple health professionals, ending up at the Alfred Hospital Asthma and Allergy Clinic," she said.
They conducted numerous tests and diagnosed me with sensitive asthma.
"Eventually, the professor attending me said I also have a hypersensitive larynx, possibly a byproduct of having mycoplasma pneumonia a few years ago," she said.
Ms Perry has been told there is no treatment available for her condition.
"The doctor advised that the best thing is to avoid the irritants," she said.
But that was almost impossible for Ms Perry, who said there were so many irritants in the atmosphere that could affect her, and to avoid them would be a life of isolation.
"Even some kinds of toothpaste and dishwashing liquids have become an issue. What could I do?" she said.
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"I still wanted to work and be able to enjoy the things that were important to me; I couldn't attend church, watch my family play sports, or shop because of all the irritants in the air that could trigger my symptoms."
After being told she needed a bubble to live in to keep her safe, she began researching the condition and what other people with the same diagnosis had done..
"I eventually stumbled across an MCS podcast that showed some using a Portable Air-Purifying Respirator," Ms Perry said.
"It claimed to block out the VOCs that triggered the users, so I decided to try one for myself. I had no other choice apart from being isolated at home. So here I am. If you see me around wearing the respirator, please smile at me, not stare.
"I'd love you to say hi, but that's up to you."
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Multiple Chemical Sensitivities can be caused by exposure to a substance that your body reacts too, putting the immune system into overdrive and creating a condition that is difficult to diagnose and has no treatment.
Due to the complexity of the condition, living with MCS can be challenging and isolating for the person. A low level of exposure to a regular substance can bring on chronic symptoms for a person with MCS.
Ms Perry hopes her story will increase understanding about MCS in the wider community.
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