Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why Should I Stop Smoking? He Wanted You To Know

Why should I stop smoking?  This seems like a silly question to me.  In my book, How To Stop Smoking Without Killing Anyone, I mention that if you don't know by now that smoking is bad for you then pretty much you have been living under a rock for 45 years.

Strangely, people decide to pick up the habit anyway and even stranger, people continue to play Russian Roulette with Big Tobacco.  Big Tobacco's gonna win.  If you haven't seen The Deer Hunter, go watch it and then and get back to me, because that is exactly what happens when you play Russian Roulette with Big Tobacco.

I found this article while searching for topics to write about.  One of the things that I didn't want to do in my book, How To Stop Smoking Without Killing Anyone was to get all "preachy" on you.  I'm still committed to that, but sometimes a good tall glass of Reality Check is just what the doctor ordered.  Besides, once I read this article, I felt morally obligated to pass on his story.

So, here we have Bryan Lee Curtis.  In 1999 he was in his early 30's.  He worked in construction, had two kids and was a regular American trying to make his way in the world. 

He was also a two pack a day smoker.  Bryan started smoking when he was 13.  Most kids who start, get started around this time.  He felt he had plenty of time to quit smoking.

One day, suffering from severe abdominal pain he went to the hospital to find out that he had oat cell lung cancer.  This is a very common form of cancer associated with smoking.  It also happens to be incredibly aggressive as far as cancers go.

The attitude of "it won't happen to me" has got to be the worst form of denial and self loathing I can think of.  Why self loathing?  Let me explain that a little later.

At the time of Bryan's diagnosis, they attempted to slow the progression of the cancer with chemotherapy. Notice, I said "slow the progression."  Not stop the progression, not cure the cancer, basically what that means is delay the inevitable.  Brian was going to die from this cancer.  He's 34 years old with lung cancer.  Rare?  Maybe.  Becoming more common than you thought?  Yes!

Bryan Lee Curtis died 9 weeks after his diagnosis.  He was 34 years old.  He started smoking at age 13.  It took 21 years of smoking to kill him. 

For the skeptics and people in denial, those thinking he's an exception, to those who will justify their own addiction when they read the whole article and see that in addition to construction, Bryan was also a roofer.  So clearly his lungs were exposed to all sorts of additional crap that probably exacerbated his condition.  Besides, you're thinking, I don't smoke two packs a day, I only smoke "X" cigarettes a day. 

For those of you in this frame of mind, I understand where you're coming from and I agree with you.  Because I too thought that.  Granted I haven't had a cigarette since May 2002 and you very well may be still smoking but I was immediately skeptical as to how a 33 year old man gets lung cancer.  Well, two things immediately came to mind.

#1 - Please grab a copy of my book and turn to page 28.

#2 - It's your addiction talking.

What?  Yes.  Your addiction is louder than reality.  Let me say that again. 


How do I know that?  Mainly because while Bryan Lee Curtis literally wasted away in under 9 weeks flat and then did everything he could in his highly limited capacity to share with the world the consequences of his decision to smoke, his own mother, wife, nephew and several other family members continued smoking.  These people even smoked in the house he lay dying in.  In fact Brian also continued to smoke until he was to weak to do so.

His funeral was an open casket funeral.  He wanted everyone to see the ravages of his disease brought on and exacerbated by smoking.  But after the funeral, people went outside an lit up.  Foolish. 

I too am guilty of this blindness.  My mother died of cancer.  My aunt.  My Grandfather.  You know I had a cigarette after every one of those funerals. 

Now for those of you who've never dealt with nicotine addiction, this has got to sound like the stupidest thing you've ever heard.  How can you watch someone die from cancer and continue to do the very thing that will most likely land you in the exact same spot?

Stupid, huh?

Yes it is. 

Nicotine and the habit, addiction and compulsion that is the cigarette is very, very powerful.  You have an unbelievable task and challenge ahead of you should you decide to quit.  Wait!  Stop, don't quit!  Just stop.  You decided to start, now decide to stop. 

Need help with that?  Get my book.  Need some motivation with a little tough love and humor thrown in for good measure?  I told you in the beginning, I wouldn't get all "preachy" on you and I won't. 

But I will leave you with this...  Bryan's story needs to be told.  This is what can happen.  This is what can be the final result.  Sue Landry first published her story in 1999.  You can find it here:  http://www.sptimes.com/News/61599/Floridian/He_wanted_you_to_know.shtml  Take the time to read and reflect and then ask yourself what you can do to just help one person stop.  Me?  I wrote a book.  What can you do?