- Posted July 13, 2009 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Help Obama kick the habit
Mr. Obama, Smoking Killed my Daddy
Dear Mr. President:
"95% cured" is, in fact, "0% cured" when it comes to a tobacco addiction. As long as there is nicotine in your system, your body will depend on it. As long as you take "just one more", there will be thousands more of those little tubes of porta-cancer tempting you.
I began smoking when I was 13 years old, and had a raging 2-pack a day addiction by the time I was 15. I smoked throughout my teen years, and although it's sad to admit, I was not discovered because my dad smoked, too. He unwittingly provided me with cigarettes, and the stench of his addiction covered the stench of mine. No matter your position in life, chances are that your children will smell of the same smoke you inhale. So will your spouse, because the smoky smell which clings to your clothes will "rub off" on her.
I am a veteran of many (as in, 18!) failed quits. I tried cold turkey, gum, patches, inhaler, lozenges, homeopathic remedies, wellbutrin...Basically every product out there. My husband would nag me, and I would quit for a time. After 4 days or so, I would smoke again. It was a vicious cycle.
It was also a macabre joke between my physician and me. In late December, 2006, after enduring several painful months of cajoling from said spouse, I called and asked the good doctor what was the latest on the smoking cessation market. He recommended Chantix. I asked for a scrip. He said, "Quitting again?" I said, "Sure". That addicted junkie in me was figuring that after 3 days, maybe 4, I would be smoking again, and my husband could give me a few months' worth of smoke-flavored rest from the nagging.
To my surprise, the Chantix worked in making the withdrawal tolerable. My "temporary quit" became a 100% quit, but medication was not my only help. During the first week of my quit, as I was searching desperately for ways to occupy myself, I came across a discussion board on About.com which provided information and commisseration for addicts like me...Addicts who were in the throes of quitting, as I was. I read voraciously, and discovered so many things about the addiction I was battling. I watched as others who quit with me started smoking again, and although I knew that only 7% of those who quit are still smoke-free a year later, it still hurt to see those people fail.
I swore I would NOT fail this time.
And so, I read the misery, the withdrawal and the victories plastered on that virtual board. I read the information offered, and learned everything I could about my addiction. I spoke to those who had succeeded in their quits, and those who had failed, and learned what situations to avoid. I typed like a madwoman on that board when I needed to vent, and posting became a sort of replacement for smoking, too. I learned that McDonald's straws, stuffed with a clean cigarette filter, felt just like a cigarette and would last as I puffed on it again, and again, as I answered that psychological need to have something in my hand. I sometimes stood on my back porch and smoked that straw. There came a day when I did not need those straws any more.
I learned that sometimes, the only thing between a smoke and me was a picture of someone else's cancer, or a diagram detailing COPD's effects. One member, Gaylene, was diagnosed with lung cancer, and her fight inspired me to "keep on keepin' on".
After six weeks, my withdrawal symptoms were much better. After three months, my quit was no longer my life. After six months, I was busy living my smoke-free life, and I succeeded in dealing with my grandmother's death without cigarettes. The cravings were almost all gone. I'd learned on the site how to handle my cravings, so that when one hit, I was prepared.
I have been quit for a little over 2.5 years now. I won't go back. I know the toll of lifelong smoking, and its conclusion if I don't quit.
In early February of 2009, my beloved Daddy went to his doctor for what he thought was bronchitis or pneumonia. After an x-ray and CT scan, we found out that he had 4th-stage neoplastic disease...Lung cancer. His formal diagnosis of small-cell lung cancer, with 8 growths and "numerous smaller nodules", was on February 22. He died on March 23, 2009.
He was only 63 years old.
His death was unimaginably gruesome. Within three short weeks, he went from appearing healthy, to dead. One of those tumors had broken out of the lung, had consumed part of his rib, and was growing quite happily and visibly in his upper left pectoral muscle. We watched Daddy cough up bloody phlegm, watched him lose 80 lbs after diagnosis, watched his skin turn sallow, watched him lose his ability to walk, to void, to talk, to smoke...And this all happened within a month.
My Daddy, the man whom I adored, was killed by his addiction to cigarettes. He'd once told me that he would die a smoker. He almost made it. Three days before he died, he was too weak to lift a cigarette to his yellowing lips. When he died at 4 am, in the bedroom he shared with my mother, he died gasping that he didn't want to die.
Last night, like many nights in the past 4 months, I retired to the silence of my bedroom and wept. I may be 36 years old, but I'm still "Daddy's little girl", and I've lost him too soon. That, Mr. President, is the "Legacy of Marlbrough Country". This addiction kills, and while many smokers delude themselves by thinking, "it only happens to other people", what happens to your wife and daughters when "other people" ends up being "you"?
Please think about qutting 100%.