I wanted to take a break from my regular posts to write about something that holds a lot of weight in my heart. November is lung cancer awareness month.
I’m not one to post about my family on the Internet, but for this, I will make an exception. November 1, 2006, was when I lost my grandpa to lung cancer. There were a multitude of unfortunate factors that contributed to this loss but the main one being that he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Third grade me didn’t really understand what was happening when he was in the hospital, I just assumed everything was going to be okay because he was Grandpa – he could do anything.
He came home a few times and my mom, brother, and I made him a bear from Build-a-Bear that was wearing a fishing outfit because he loved to go fishing and took almost all the grandkids on a fishing day – I still have it in my closet now. That day he gave me two things: a small figurine of a raccoon and a small figurine of a boy fishing – both of which I still hold onto today. I still didn’t truly understand what was happening.
I’ll never forget the day that I came home from school and my mom told my brother and me. It’s the first time I remember feeling numb. She told us to come by her because she was sitting on the couch in the family room. So, we sat down and I knew it couldn’t be good news because she wasn’t looking good at all. She told us he passed that morning and I can’t remember much else but feeling numb. It’s a scary and weird feeling to experience at eight-years-old.
So, here are the Facts:
- Lung Cancer is the #1 cancer killer in the world, killing more people than breast, colorectal and prostate cancers combined.
- Although smoking is by far the largest known cause of lung cancer, anyone can get lung cancer.
- 80-90% of lung cancer deaths could be completely avoided if people did not smoke cigarettes.
- If you do smoke, it is never too late to stop. Stopping smoking reduces the risk of developing lung cancer.
- In those diagnosed with lung cancer, continued smoking will interfere with the effectiveness of your cancer treatment. The sooner you stop the better off you will be.
- Most people who smoke are addicted to nicotine and would benefit from using approved stop smoking medications and receiving counseling to help support their quit attempt.
- Approved stop smoking medications include nicotine patches, gum, lozenge, inhaler, and nasal spray; Chantix and Zyban. As of today, e-cigarettes are not an approved stop smoking medication.
- Studies have shown that many attempts and many different methods are often needed to finally quit smoking. If you have tried before, keep trying.
- Don’t be bashful, ask your doctor for help to stop smoking.
Taken from IASLC’s website
I understand that nicotine causes not only a physical dependence but also a psychological dependency on it but is that really all worth more than the life you’ve built?
Something that I really don’t get is that with all the warnings and science about how detrimental smoking is to your health is that young people still take up smoking. I grew up in the time where when we went into restaurants we would be asked if we wanted to be seated in the smoking or non-smoking section and as I grew up I watched that go away to the point where I even forgot that was ever a thing.
All of these regulations most likely will never go away, but honestly, they still need to be tightened more. Other than your own home or vehicle should be the only place you should be legally allowed to smoke tobacco. Because if you think about it, even when you step outside of a public building to smoke, you’re still affecting other people’s air.
Nothing made angrier than this past summer I was at a concert with my boyfriend and there were so many people smoking in a jam-packed area and they would hold their cigarettes at waist level which meant anyone could have bumped into and got burned. I was so paranoid the whole night that my boyfriend’s shirt was going to get singed because the guy next to him kept lighting up and moving around with it at waist level. Needless to say, even though it was a good concert, I was a little anxious and upset. No one wants to breathe that garbage in.
Go Get a Screening
It doesn’t matter if you never smoked, smoked once, or smoke every day – go get your lungs screened. Get a check-up. Talk to your doctor. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
There are a few ways that you can help raise awareness about lung cancer and some are as simple as this post – share your story. Sharing your story not only informs people about the issue but also lets other people know that they aren’t alone in their grieving and loss.
You can volunteer to help make a difference – you can find information about that here.
Join the Lung Action Network. What this does is it helps to share your voice about policies that will improve and save lives for better care – sign up here.
I wanted him here. To help me through difficult times. Be here for my mom. To be there for my grandma. Dance with me at my wedding. Play with my future children. To fix everything. He should be here. I’m positive he wants to be here, too. He was the best and I only wish that my future husband and kids could meet him – they would love him.
So before you smoke literally anything, give it a little more thought. Your actions don’t just affect you, they affect those around you that love you and want to be with you.
I recognize that this post is charged with a lot of emotional energy but it’s something that has affected my life and my family’s life greatly. It’s something I will never apologize for getting upset about.
Don’t smoke. Get screened. Cancer sucks.