My mother had a second cousin named Mila. She was close to the entire family and was lovingly called Mommy Mila by everyone. She was the life of the party and always present on every occasion at my grandparents’ house.
Mommy Mila was the coolest aunt you could ever find. Wherever we met, she would always give me money for snacks or whatever I wanted to buy. Since she was a home contractor, she opted for a pickup truck instead of a small sedan. If we were supposed to go on trips, my little cousins and I would bug our parents until they allowed us to ride in the back of her truck. Aside from getting away from our parents, we knew that Mommy Mila would have a big cooler at the back of her car, and it would be filled with sodas for all of us.
If there was one thing that everyone complained about, though, it was Mommy Mila’s smoking habits. She always had a stick of cigarette in her mouth whenever I saw her. The only time that she did not have one was when we were at church. However, that was only for like 30 minutes. As soon as the service was over, she would be the first one out of the door, eager to light a stick.
A Decade Later
Over a decade passed, and Mommy Mila’s smoking habits remained. Throughout that period, I could not recall how many times the entire family took turns asking her to stop smoking because it was bad for her health. Despite that, she did not experience any health issues at the time, so she was like, “You should know that I am invincible. I will never get any disease because of my cigarettes.”
I was already working when I heard through my mom that Mommy Mila got admitted to the hospital after fainting at a project site. The doctors said that hypertension was the reason behind it. Her blood pressure was always high, and the doctors linked it to her ongoing smoking habits. Unfortunately, Mommy Mila did not believe them. She would take the medicine they prescribed to her, but she did not stop smoking, insisting that she knew her body more than any shrink. Her exact words were, “My hypertension is hereditary; I got it from my mom. Let’s not bring my love for smoking into this.”
Sooner than later, Mommy Mila got hospitalized again. This time, it was because of an insect bite that turned into a wound and took forever to heal. The doctor’s diagnosis was diabetes. Again, they said that smoking was the culprit, but Mommy Mila would not have any of it. She was like, “It may be because I drink soda all the time or don’t get enough exercise. Hence, I will cut back my soda intake and walk more. But don’t tell me to stop smoking.”
No matter how many pills Mommy Mila would take, I did not need a weighing scale to know that her weight kept dropping. The shrinks said it was technically good for her, but she looked sickly – as if the weight loss was due to an illness.
I turned out to be right when Mommy Mila complained of feeling a lump on her throat. When the doctor checked her out, it turned out to be a tumor. Since they found dried blood in that region, the doctor said it could develop into cancer, so they ordered an emergency operation.
Mommy Mila agreed to it, and 24 hours later, she was already recuperating in her hospital bed. I visited her at once.
“How are you feeling?” I asked.
“Like I could use a puff right now,” she joked weakly.
“Uh, no, you don’t need that ever,” I countered.
“But I’m healed now.”
Counseling Someone Who Already Suffers Due To Their Smoking Habits
Based on how Mommy Mila answered me, it felt like there was nothing that we – her family – could do to make her stop smoking. Thus, I brought her to a counselor.
It took three consecutive counseling sessions before Mommy Mila realized that she had been addicted to smoking for decades. Addiction was a sensitive subject for her because one of her brothers died because of heroin addiction. That pushed her to take her counselor seriously and ensure that her fate would not be similar to her brother’s.
Mommy Mila stayed in counseling for an entire year. I would guess that some people would get better after a few sessions, but she needed help longer due to the number of years she depended on cigarettes to feel better. She went from two packs a day to ten sticks, five sticks, one stick, and finally none at all.
Everyone was so proud of Mommy Mila’s journey, but no one could possibly be prouder than her. The better she did at counseling, the better her physical health became.
“I used to think that I would be dead at 50, but now I feel like I could reach 100 if I keep this up,” Mommy Mila said.