You will sometimes hear people who have quit smoking say that they experienced a real emotional roller coaster in the early days of their quits. In fact, some people put off quitting, sometimes indefinitely, because they are afraid of the emotional ups and downs they may experience during the initial cessation period.
What all smokers need to realize is that the "possible" roller coaster ride people "may" go through when they are quitting is nothing compared to the roller coaster ride people WILL go through if they get any of the numerous conditions that smoking is capable of causing.
In March of 2006 a member at the Freedom site named Sue attached the obituary for her husband Mike, who had passed away after a five year struggle with lung cancer. The original post can be seen in the 12th post in the string Honor our Fallen Comrades Parade. In that post she put up a link to the Lung Cancer Support Community website. John has had links to this site at www.WhyQuit.com for a long time but I never actually went there to read. That day though I took a look and saw that they had a series of message boards, one of them being a board of obituaries. When I went to look at Mike's notice, I saw that not only was there the obituary written by Sue but also condolences written by other members of the site.
One thing struck me in Sue's announcement and then in the attached condolences: most of the people at the site attached a log of the treatments and the complications that they had endured since their initial diagnosis. If anyone wants to see the real roller coaster kind of rides that people go through from smoking they should go read through those logs. Here is the log that Sue attached describing Mike's battle with lung cancer.
Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 4:01 pm
Post subject: I lost my precious Mike
I have little strength to post . I just wanted to let you know that my precious, Mike lost his battle today. I will write more later and post his obituary when we get it completed. Thank you to everyone for your love and support.
Husband, Mike, 59 years old:
- 2-2001 - Diagnosed Stage 1 nsclc [non small cell lung cancer] - 9cm tumor to right lung-no lymph node involvement.
- 4-30-2001 - Pneumonectomy right lung removed. No follow-up chemo or radiation, but scans and xrays were done.
- 1-28-2004 - Diagnosed with recurrent stage IV nsclc, tumor on stump of where right lung had been removed, lymph node involvement, tumor adrenal gland - left side.
- 02-04-2004 - Taxol & carboplatin 3 treatments - didn't work.
- 02-12-2004 - Radiation 10 to lung for bleeding.
- 04-2-2004 - Taxotere had 4 treatments, shrinkage had occurred in all after 3 ... continuing taxotere. Making him very tired ... upper body swelling.
- 08-01-2004 - In hospital latest.
- 08-02-2004 - Had stent put in ... superior vena cava ... the vein was being blocked by pressure tumor.
- 08-05-2004 - Started 10 radiation treatments.
- 08-30-2004 - Started Navelbine on 3 weeks and off 1. Scan after 5 treatments show chemo Navelbine not working - slight decrease to lung mass, but slight increase to adrenal.
- 11-01-2004 - Starting Gemzar ... had 3 treatments ... too many side effects ... CT of chest and upper abdomen done on Dec. 2nd - results some shrinkage.
- 12-06-2004 Started Alimta Dec. 6th - first treatment went well. Had 2nd treatment Dec. 27th ... developed a rash and is tired, but otherwise ok.
- 2-07-2005 - Scan, stable doing good continuing Alimta.
- 4-18-2005 - Scans showed stable disease (after 6 Alimta treatments), but he now has pneumonitis ... no more treatments until much better ... on prednisone and oxygen.
- 05-31-2005 - CT scan of chest showed pneumonitis resolved and stable cancer.
- 06-06-2005 - Our 35th wedding anniversary ... onc confirms everything resolving and stable - recommends break continued til August.
- 6-15-2005 to 6-18-05 - In hospital due to mental confusion ... had MRI- member empty head club.
- 8-3-2005 - CT scans chest, abdomen and pelvic ... Waiting and praying.
- 8-8-2005 - CT results were that the chest area looked improved, but the adrenal area had increased and involved some lymph nodes. Started Tarceva 150mg.
- 8-16-2005-8-20-2005 - Stopped 2 weeks due to severe rash on 9-8-2005 started back on Tarceva at 100 mg now ... stopped again on 9-19-2005.
- 9-30-2005 - Scans slight progression to nodes behind adrenal.
- 10-10-2005 - Camptosar - CPT-11 started.
- 10-31-2005 - CPT-11 refused more CPT-11 made him extremely fatigued and nauseated.
- 12-06-2005 - CT scans chest, abdomen and pelvic ... shows stable but tumor compressing the esophagus.
- 12-19-2005 - Had stent to trachea put in.
- 12-21-2005 - He had stent to esophagus and feeding tube put in.
- 12-22-2005 - He was ill, put in hospital ... vomiting and also coughing and congestion in for 4 days ... home for Christmas Dec. 25th ... still recuperating with antibiotics etc. Continuing cough and numerous doctor visits.
- 1-30-2006 to 2-04-2006 - Hospitalized again with cough ... Still has cough, but controlled most of the time ... Hasn't been able to resume chemo.
- My "prince charming", best friend, husband and soul mate, Mike, passed away March 2, 2006 after being a 5 year survivor and fighting a very courageous battle**Sending Love and Prayers to all!!!
When people don't even attempt to quit because of the pain or suffering that quitting might cause, or throw away their quits because of some withdrawal symptom, I think they are truly lacking the understanding of just what kind of pain and suffering not quitting can really end up causing them. When I saw the log above as well as all of the others attached to the string, it hit home again just how important a mission we are trying to accomplish at Freedom. I asked Sue if it was okay with her if we used this log at Freedom. Here is an excerpt of Sue's response:
"Please feel free to use the "log" or "profile" I have on the cancer site . I know in my heart, Mike would want to share any information we could provide you with if you think it could help to portray the very real consequences smoking had in store for him and so many others. The log really is quite long, isn't it? Yes, it is the true meaning of "roller coaster rides".
Mike began his fight with lung cancer 5 years ago in 2001. You will note on the profile that he was diagnosed in February of 2001 and he had a pneumonectomy - right lung removed on April 30th of that year. He then had to start fighting the battle anew with his recurrence diagnosed January of 2004. He had barely recuperated from that initial surgery when he was again diagnosed with recurrence. This time it was not considered curable.
Mike went through seven different kinds of chemotherapy and a total of 20 radiation therapy treatments, not to mention the one that he had just 2 days before his death. All of this in an effort to live a little longer.
He endured what seemed like hundreds of needles, scans, x-rays and other invasive tests along the way. We went through each step with optimism and praying for positive results. Sometimes we got them and sometimes we didn't.
The treatments themselves, undertaken to try and kill the cancer, would often take him to a point that seemed to be so very near death. A "good day" was to be able to stay awake, most of the day, and eat without being nauseous. He lived the last year dependent on oxygen 24/7, having to have breathing treatments 3 times a day plus bronchiodiating inhalers twice a day. He went through 2 months in the middle of last year where he was on medication that caused a psychosis and he didn't know what he was doing. This is just touching on the highlights, but when we got to the end of his days, his body wasted away rapidly and his breathing was labored - something I will never, ever forget. It would have surely been easier to have quit smoking or to never have smoked many years before."
I don't want to minimize the discomfort that some people go through while first quitting smoking. I do want to make it clear though that the pain and suffering that a person may go through if they don't quit and end up developing a smoking related illness, is likely to be a whole lot worse than whatever withdrawal "may" have caused them. Then, there is the ongoing emotional pain and suffering that is left for the people who lose their loved ones to smoking related deaths.
So, can quitting smoking end up in sensations of being on a roller coaster ride? Maybe so, but all people quitting should realize that it is a short ride, and more importantly, that it is a ride that can extend their life and improve the overall quality of their life for years and decades to come. Whatever discomfort a person may initially encounter when quitting smoking will be worth the effort when he or she considers how short this particular ride will be in the grand scheme of things and that he or she will never have to go on it again as long as he or she makes and continues to stick to a personal commitment to Never Take Another Puff!
© Joel Spitzer 2006
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