I remember wanting to be like my father so I lit my first cigarette at the tender age of seven. Through the years, I would dabble and sneak a cigarette now and then. However, by the age of 13, after my father passed from his Hodgkin’s cancer, my Mother gave me permission to smoke. She thought that this would help me grieve. I thought it was a passage into adulthood. Having permission to smoke at the smoking area in high school and having coffee and cigarettes with family and friends on the weekends seemed pretty grown up at the time. I was ashamed to let my Grammie and Grandpa know I was smoking. I was ashamed to tell them of my new habit but between the smells of the cigarettes on my clothes and my hair they knew. Thirty-nine years later after my grandmother asked me repeatedly, “Have you quit smoking?” I would say, “Yeah, yeah, I quit Grammie.” But seriously, whom was I trying to convince?
I always tried to find humor as a stress reliever. In 2008, I would get tightness around my heart and would tell my husband jokingly, as I grabbed my chest, “Oh, I am having the big one!” like Sanford did in Sanford and Son. The jokes stopped shortly after we went to the emergency room and found out that I had a small heart attack. After I was discharged I started back smoking a couple of weeks later even though my husband would not approve. In 2010, I had some same symptoms appear the tightness and the general not feeling well, so I was rushed to the hospital from work and at that time they found the tumor in my lung. It was three weeks later that I found out it was a rare lung cancer and that I had to have my left upper lobe removed. My first thought was, “Are we going to make it to our 25th Anniversary?” I held my husband. The next six weeks were a blur and happened so quickly.
Although I am cancer and smoke free today, I feel the difference everyday in my speaking and breathing. It might not be apparent to other people, but I can tell. I have to say my motivation to quit cigarettes was getting cancer and asking God to help me get through this. I am cancer free four years later, but to be honest, I wish I quit all those years ago because of the money we could have saved and the health of not just me but those around me.
I have quit for 4 years, and each day I wake up, take a deep breath, and thank the Lord for another day.
Has your life been affected by cigarette smoking? Are you a former smoker? Did you quit for personal health reasons? How long did you smoke? Are you a current smoker? Do you know someone who died after years of smoking? We are always looking for new stories for our Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Blog. You NEVER know when your story could help someone else and encourage them to stop smoking. Send us your contact information below so we can tell YOUR story.
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