Secondhand Smoke Took Its Toll On My Best Friend’s Life

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Research has demonstrated that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, where more than 16 million Americans also suffer from a disease caused by smoking. — Key Sun Ph.D.

Today, I just lost my best friend and wife of 27 years to cancer. I’m completely speechless and can’t seem to find words to describe how I actually feel.  I can blame no one but me because I am my best friend’s killer. Am I writing this to lessen my burden – or to get away with the guilt?

 

About a year ago, while on our daily morning walk, my wife complained of shortness of breath and heaviness in her chest, so I asked her to sit and relax for a moment.  As we were sitting on the bench, I felt that her temperature was a bit hot. We then decided to go back home so she can take a rest.   She took an over-the-counter analgesic for her fever, and after hours of rest, she felt better.

 

For a month, the fever would come and go, and then she developed a cough without phlegm.  I asked her to have it checked by a physician, but she refused, thinking it was just an ordinary fever and cough brought by extreme weather condition changes.   But it seemed that her condition was not getting any better, and she already lost some weight, and so we did visit our doctor.

 

She did some tests which were said to be normal except for an imbalance in her thyroid test.  She was given vitamins and some medications to correct the imbalance and was placed on a diet.   We came back for a followup. Her condition this time was no different from when we first had our first visit.  They did another test, and the result was something that we did not expect.  She was positive for lung cancer.

 

It felt like a wave of darkness washed over me as we heard the news from her doctor.   He gave us options and even told us to get a second opinion, and so we did.  We sought a second opinion, and the result was the same, stage 2 lung cancer.

 

Toxic Chemicals Knocked Out Her Body

I wondered how that could be.  My wife was very healthy and full of energy months before.  She lived a healthy lifestyle and never had in her entire life dared to touch even a single butt of that cigarette.  In fact, it was her who influenced me to stop smoking when our two girls started going to school.  The doctor told me that it must be it.   The secondhand smoke that I caused her to be sick took its toll on her life.  My wife kept on saying that it was bad for my health, I never realized it was bad for her, too, and she was the one who suffered while I was smoking my cigars.

Anyway, think for a moment about how very hard it is to measure one’s exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. The exposure of a woman married to a two-pack a day guy living in sunny SoCal where doors/windows remain open for much of the year will differ significantly from a similar wife living in Vermont where houses are sealed tight for the six-month winters. — Stephen Mason Ph.D.

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I did not know that every cigarette I smoked contained 7000 toxic chemicals, and 70 of those could have caused my wife’s cancer.  It was more harmful to her because she did not only inhale the smoke from my cigarette, but she was also taking in the smoke that I breathed out, and the toxins left in the air must have entered her body, too, through her mouth.

 

Holistic Treatment Is Not For Everyone

We sought different kinds of treatment except for chemotherapy.   My wife was so slim that she never wanted to consider the idea of having chemotherapy.   She was afraid she might not be able to tolerate it with her frail body.  We resorted to alternative treatment.  She took in organic greens daily prepared by a dietitian in her own farm, which was part of the holistic cancer treatment and cleansing.   This type of treatment was proven effective for others, but unfortunately, it did not work for her.  It was too late when we came back to her doctor as her cancer was already in its end-stage.

 

Slow Killer

I was enjoying my cigarettes, unaware that I was slowly killing the love of my life.  There’s no turning back for me as she was eaten up by cancer.  In less than a year, we were about to lose her.  I can’t explain her pain as the cancer cells spread into her spine.  All I could do was nothing, and I watched as I sat by her side the whole time until her doctor talked to me that they would put her in palliative care.  They put her to sleep to ease the pain until she breathed her last breath. I felt her hands slowly letting go of me.

 

It may have been too late for my wife, but perhaps not yet for you.  So if you’re holding your cigarette now, look at it very carefully and then look at your loved ones who are not enjoying that cigarette you’re lighting. They could be suffering more than you could ever imagine.

Overcoming an addiction involves more than initial abstinence or initial reduction. Working to develop a course of addiction therapy that also helps people stick with the change over time is essential. John Smith Ph.D.