On 7th May 2011 my mum died of lung cancer caused by nearly 40 years of smoking. She was four weeks shy of her 59th birthday, which is way too young in my opinion. She is survived by her mother and five children. She was one of five kids herself but she is the the third to succumb to smoking related lung cancer. Yes, the remaining two siblings still smoke. Why? What a great question, but it's not a question a sane and rational person can answer, because any sane and rational person who has seen just what we have seen in our family would throw their smokes in the bin and "man up" to
the withdrawal symptoms. Mum gave up cigarettes a few years ago, but the damage was already done. In the past few months, and especially in the last few weeks she suffered terribly, as did we all whilst we watched her health decline.
Lung cancer sufferers waste away. Their skin becomes grey and transparent, their breathing becomes labored and it takes all of their strength to talk, sit up and eat. The family and friends sit by helplessly whilst their loved one drifts in and out of consciousness, sometimes recognises them, sometimes hallucinating, sometimes confused and panicking.
In 2007, lung cancer was the biggest killer of all cancers in Australia. This wasn't because it was the most diagnosed, far from it. Look at the statistics in the charts below. Lung cancer is one of the least survivable cancers you can get. Its ridiculous really when you think that the vast majority of sufferers die due to their choice to inhale poisonous fumes. Even more idiotic is the fact that they pay large sums of money for the privilege to kill themselves slowly in what ends up the most painful, drawn out and undignified way to die, both for the smoker, and their family.
There are a lot of cancers out there, but if I had to get any of them, lung cancer would be at the bottom of my list.
As always, prevention is better than a cure. Stop smoking and you reduce the risks of dying the slow and painful death that tears your life apart and destroys your family. I still worry about my siblings, two of whom are former smokers, whilst one still struggles with the addiction. I even fear for workmates, acquaintances and strangers in the street who not only inhale the toxic fumes made up of insecticide by-products and various other poisons; they also blow it onto their children friends and passers by.
I hope my relatives and friends who smoke don't die, but statistics prove that human frailty and stupidity are more likely to dictate their fates than wishful thinking.
Scare yourself into quitting today, or call me and I'll help.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare