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The Smoker's Memorial - WhyQuit's Wall of Remembrance - Page 2

Page Two

Here we memorialize, remember and pay tribute to wonderful lives cut short by chemical dependency upon smoking nicotine. May remembrance of our friends and loved ones inspire youth to never start, smokers to quit, quitters to stay the course, and ex-smokers to relish life.

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Our Remembrances

20 - 04/28/06

On November 11, 2005, I lost my father to a 21 year battle with Emphysema. My father began smoking cigarettes as a child and continued to smoke until he was diagnosed with Emphysema in 1984. Based on the stories that I have read, I guess he was lucky to get 21 more years after his diagnosis.

I watched this debilitating disease reduce a strong, proud, smart man to a child during his last couple of years. During his battle with this disease, he suffered great physical pain and had all of his dignity stripped from him. As a result of a couple of strokes, he had no short term memory and was unable to carry on an indepth conversation during the last stages of his life. I was there for his last gasping breath and will forever be haunted by the memory.

Although I miss him dearly, I'm glad that he isn't suffering anymore. He couldn't remember it, but I finally honored his wishes to quit smoking in April, 2005. I only pray that it's not too late for me. I wish that I would have listened to my father and quit years ago. If you haven't done so already, quit now and give yourself a chance to live to old age.



#19 - 04/24/06

My mother passed away on April 14th, 2004. She had a heart attack during a simple procedure to put a line into one of her veins. She quit breathing when they first started the procedure, and when they got her breathing started again she had the heart attack. They got her heart started but she had to be put on a ventilator. My Brother and I made the decision two days later to remove the ventilator as her kidneys were failing. My Mom had been a heavy smoker and felt like she couldn?t quit.

She was only 64 years old and we all miss her terribly.

I put down my cigarettes on the night of April 13th, 2006. I have been nicotine free since April 14th 2006. I will never take another puff.



#18 - 04/02/06

My father was one of the heaviest smokers I have ever seen - he smoked 5 to 6 packs per day for over 30 years.

However, he did quit smoking in 1978 or so, but in 1992 was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. I was with him when the oncologist said he had only seen one case of this type of lung cancer in a non-smoker - a woman who lived with a heavy smoker.

So, my father had quit for 14 years and still was diagnosed with lung cancer - I am still proud of him that he quit, however, in his case the damage was too severe.

He lived for 13 months after the diagnosis, dying in October, 1993.

Jack Waldhelm


#17 - 04/01/06

I am Merrelyn Hughes 63, widow. I am a widow twice after watching my husbands struggle for every breath. Chester Hughes died of lung cancer at 71 - 3 packs a day for over 50 years. It was a horrible last two years as I watched the man I loved the most die, my friend and lover of 20 years. Then I remarried in April of last year to Claude McDlain and I watched him die of cancer of the lung on January 10.

And then there is me, on my walker with oxygen, struggling for every breath with a cigarette in one hand. Sometimes I feel in my stupidity that I deserve to blow myself up. I would like to put a sign on my walker that says cigarettes caused this and walk thru schools. You can't imagine what it costs Medicare and Champus to keep me alive.

I have grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends. There is a life out there I want to share in but I am afraid it is to late. I also have a 2.25 spot on the lung which I refuse to allow them to biopsy. I also have diabetes, asthma, emphysema, congestive heart failure, and legs that won't hold me up. No breath to walk with, unable to clean my house any longer, I need constant help.


Merrelyn Hughes
Huachuca City, Arizona


#16 - 03/31/06

My good friend, and both of my daughter's godfather, whom the eldest affectionately called 'papouli' (Greek for 'grandpa') died on July 23, 2005.

Let me tell you a little bit about papouli. To know him was to love him; he always livened up the scene; he had a gregarious manner, a very boisterous laugh (he could yell pretty loud too!) and he was always ready to sit next to you and share one of his many, many, amusing anecdotes. One thing that I really remember about him most is his disarming bluntness. You always knew where you stood with him because he had the rare quality of always telling you exactly how he felt to your face, but you couldn't help but love him for it.

At family barbecues I referred to him as the 'clean plate police' he used to walk around inspecting your plate to make sure you were eating. Five feet tall and stocky, this little --yet imposing-- man would walk around armed with a large piece of meat (most likely lamb) ready to drop it in your plate the minute you polished it. Most of all, I remember that thanks to him me and my mom were saved from being homeless and hungry. He owned the building where we lived and during the job recession in 92 we were like 5 months behind on rent and not once did he threaten us, he offered us money because he knew we were barely eating, and I'll love him forever because he was so kind to us.

A year and a half before he died, papouli began to have these coughing spells --they were so bad that at one point I thought he would vomit. We all thought it was a bad cough stemming from some sort of bronchial infection --and so did the doctors; he was given antibiotics to combat the 'infection', well when that didn't work, his devoted family took him to a specialist who ran tests that determined that he had lung cancer.

When we learned this, we were truly devastated. I remember the day his daughter (my best friend and my kids' godmother) called and delivered the grim news. I was in complete shock; I was unable to speak for quite some time and then my husband finally coaxed me into telling him what was wrong, I told him and began sobbing uncontrollably as I said the word 'cancer'. We both cried quietly so that our daughter wouldn't hear us. The decades of smoking had finally come knocking on his life, the damage was irreversible and so present.

I followed his treatment and appointments through my best friend. I wrote all the days for his appointments on my Blackberry and would follow up with her at the end of the day to see if there were any good news. For a while there I really thought he was going to pull through; I remember that in March we were standing outside my old building and he said "I'm planting tomatoes this year --they're going to be beautiful and you're going to make me a nice tomato salad!" he looked healthy and happy ---I thought he had beaten the odds. Not long after that day, Joyce called me and told me that he had a brain seizure ---the cancer had metastasized to his brain; Jesus! what now? how? why? I felt so powerless and wanted to give him back his health and take away this thing from his body!

Shortly before my youngest daughter's Christening; papouli said to me that perhaps he wouldn't be around for long and I should consider picking someone healthier to stand in for him. I refused to accept that, and even knowing that he could very well leave us soon, I decided that I wanted him to godfather both my kids because to me it was more meaningful to have a godfather that was a great human being, kind, and so dear to me, than to pick someone who held no special place in my heart.

Emma was Christened on June 18th, 2005. At that time he could barely walk, but it meant the world to me to have him there. Five weeks later, I received a call from his daughter saying that things were looking pretty bad. I went to see him on Tuesday at Cornell Medical Center in New York City. I gasped at the sight of him. The imposing, loud, and opinionated man with the hearty laugh and kind soul was now reduced to a frail old man. He looked so helpless and for the first time ever I saw vulnerability in him, and the thought that he would be leaving us became painfully real.

I took his hand into mine and sat beside him in the dim room, I didn't know if he could hear or understand me, but I began to pour my soul out. I told him that in this world many people come and go and very few leave the world a better way than how they found it, and that he was one of them because he not only saved me from being another statistic, but he let me believe in the kindness that still exists in some people.

I went back to see him Friday, and he seemed in better spirits and so a glimmer of hope seemed visible. I went home and told my husband that I thought he might pull through; we were beginning to feel hope --we agreed that we would all come and see him the next morning. The phone rang at about 9:00 a.m. the next morning, my best friend's daughter --papouli's granddaughter-- was at the other end of the line; the minute I heard her voice breaking I knew. I remember feeling so empty when I hung up the phone, I felt so broken and such intense sadness. I realized that I would never hear him telling me to shut up because he had something to say, he would never yell at us for doing something he didn't like, and he would never fill my plate again and offer me a seat beside him.

He was buried on July 26, 2005. I cried so much I thought I'd have no more tears left. He left an enormous void in our lives, and will forever be loved.

Just yesterday, my daughter and I were flipping through our family photo albums --we looked at many pictures of our beloved papouli. I found myself sharing with her the anecdotes that he shared with me, and telling her how he always reprimanded us for some silly teenage thing we had done or said --and I thought; yes --it is so much better to have known someone great who once meant so much, than to know someone who would not hold such a special place in our hearts.

Michelle Ormond


#15 - 03/22/06

I'm writing about several people whose deaths and near-deaths from smoking have greatly affected my life. My husband had a heart infarction a few years back. He was in his early 30s and had been smoking for almost 20 years. Thankfully he has healed, quit smoking, and successfully encouraged me to quit too.

However? both my husband's father and grandfather passed away years ago from heart disease related to smoking. I have lost one grandfather to a brain tumor, one grandmother to stomach cancer, and a great-uncle to multiple cancers, all due to smoking. My mother, a chain-smoker for decades, was put on a heart monitor a while ago when she began having complications, and it's unlikely she'll make it much longer.

My husband's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago. Her doctor told her that if she didn't stop smoking, she had only months to live. She stopped smoking that very day, the chemo worked, and she is now in remission.

Both my younger sister and my best friend had cervical cancer in their mid-twenties, possibly due to ? or at least not helped by ? smoking. My sister has stopped smoking, but my good friend has not.

Not too long ago my husband lost two friends from smoking: The first one was his childhood friend ? a short-stop in little-league baseball who was on his team, and the second one was a musician who died from sudden death brought on by a cigarette. I found his death to be the most alarming, as I have just recently learned that in rare cases, smoking even one cigarette can cause sudden death. He was just 26 years old and had been smoking for 7 years. He was talking with his wonderful girlfriend when he lit up, and died a few minutes later. Everyone who knew him was stunned. I got to meet him only once, but he was a wonderful guy.

Today, I have been smoke-free for 13 days. I am in my late 30s and had been smoking for 9 years. But right now, my boss is in the hospital visiting his mother, who is experiencing congestive heart failure from years of smoking. Please send your thoughts and prayers out to her, to my friend and to my mother and mother in-law.

Thank you all for contributing to this site, for keeping me inspired to stay smoke-free, and for quitting ? or at least trying to quit ? this addiction.



#14 - 03/15/06

I just wanted to remember both my mother and father. My mom and dad smoked what seems like their whole lives. I can't remember them ever without a cigarette. My mom was always unhealthy, probably lots to do with smoking. But she always told everyone she was fine. There came a time when we all thought she had another stroke. Come to find out she had lung cancer and never told any of us. No insurance and we were at a loss as no one would help.

I took care of her in her last 6 months of life and it was horrible. She lost everything: her weight, her strength, and her ability to remember anything. I often heard stories she would tell from her childhood. The cancer had left her with no short term memory, as if she were still a child. In the end she also lost what was left of her dignity, I'm sure. She went into a coma. The cancer had consumed 3/4 of her brain.

There were machines, lots of machine and all asking me, "do you want her to live like that." And when I made the decision to let her go I was called cruel. But I know my mother wouldn't have wanted to go on that way. She passed away when she was just 52 years old. She was the best woman I've ever known, caring, fun and good to everyone she had ever met. I remember the agony she was in and still wish I could have spared her some of the pain.

My father was a funny man. I loved to hear the stories of when he was young and in the navy. My dad could sing and limbo. He wasn't around too much after my parents were divorced but he was still my dad, my hero. We thought he would live forever. Then he was diagnosed with emphysema. He always played off the illness like it was nothing. Always a joke or two. And yes he still smoked even with the oxygen.

He lived in another state and would never really tell us how he was. In the end he died from the emphysema. He had fallen asleep with a cigarette which started to burn the bed. He awoke and caught it before it ignited and went to nap on the couch. But his emphysema had weakened his lungs so much that just the fumes from the bed ended his life. He was 63.

I miss my parents terribly and this is the reason for my quitting. Also I never want my children to have to go through what I went through. My parents were the best people ever and I so wish they were here so I could hug them and tell them I love them, or just to look upon their faces. I miss them so much.



#13 - 02/22/06

This is the story of my Aunt Donna. I can remember her smoking since I was a young child along with my uncle, they both smoked Doral menthol lights. I don't know exactly how long she smoked but I'm sure it was at least 20 years, and it took it's toll on her.

Aunt Donna was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in late 1999. She had two teenage children, who I feel to this day have resented the fact that even after being diagnosed she continued smoking. In fact, her doctor told her that quitting was not the thing to do at the time due to the extra stress it would put on her. I was really suprised with his thoughts of her not quitting. She didn't and continued with chemo.

Her children closed her out, acting like she wasn't even there for most of the last year of her life. She didn't want to be in a hospital so my mom and her sisters took care of her at her home, where they brought in a hospital bed and all the medication to make her comfortable. Late in 2000 we thought that the chemo was helping but the continuance of smoking, I'm sure, reversed any help the chemo may of done.

Her health deteriorated drastically in early 2001. She wasn't able to eat much and was only drinking Tang. She was swollen and incoherent for most of the time during the day due to the medication she was on. September 11th was terrible day. I remember it well like all Americans do. But the day I remember most is September 12th 2001 the day cancer finally won it's battle with the life of my Aunt Donna. She had just celebrated her 39th birthday on February 8th. She left behind a husband and two children and has missed the birth of her granddaughter. She is a spitting image of the grandmother she will never know.

We Love and miss you Aunt Donna!!



#12 - 02/16/06

On a warm sunny day in August of 2001 my friend called me up to complain about a nagging lump on her neck. As we talked and smoked our cigarettes, I proceeded to tell her, "I'm sure it is nothing, I wouldn't worry about it." We found out a month later that she had non-small cell adenocarcinoma. How in heavens name can a 33 yr old have lung cancer!?

She right away made an appointment with a very well known and respected lung cancer specialist. I remember driving with her to the appointment in downtown Chicago. We were so...indifferent, almost jovial. I guess we both still thought that this had to be a big mistake. Even if she did have lung cancer, we surely had caught it at an early stage. The first opinion that she had, the doctor told her that her cancer was a stage 3. Now there is a stage 3A and a 3B. Upon doing research we discovered that 3A, at least you have some sort of a chance, but with 3B it is pretty hopeless. Upon arriving at the hospital we even parked in lot 3A, we knew for sure it was a good sign.

We walked into the doctors office and it was like a conference room. He was in there along with several medical students and a few other doctors. Then came the news...Stage 4. The final stage of lung cancer. Her diagnosis was 3 to 6 months. Upon hearing this, her immediate response was "What about my kids?" "What are my kids going to do without me!" Grasping at straws, she asked the Dr.,"So, if I quit smoking, will I get better?" The answer was that it might give her a few extra days, but her cancer was very advanced. People say it's never to late to quit smoking. Well, it was to late.

Those 6 months were not only the worst of hers, but the worst of my life too. She went from being a little bit chunky at 5'5 and 186lbs. to wasting away to nothing. She had to be under 100 lbs. when she passed away. I had to go and buy her clothes for her wake. While I was picking them out, I had to shake my head at the irony. Her whole life she had aspired to be a size 3, and that was going to be big. She was a great friend, and also a great mother. She left 3 beautiful children.

After seeing someone disintegrate before your eyes, and go from a healthy, active, funny, really cool person to...well, dead, you think I would give up smoking and never look back. That shows how amazingly addictive cigarettes are. I didn't give it up. Well, not right away anyway. Char will be dead 4 years Feb. 22. I quit Feb 13, 2006.

Jane Kurecki


#11 - 02/11/06

I had a friend of the family who was very dear to me. We called her "Aunt Dottie," Boy was she a real fire-cracker of a lady. She was a devoted Christian, wife, mother, sister, and aunt, and she was also a heavy smoker. We lost her in 2005, two weeks before Thanksgiving. She had been really sick for the last 3 years but she kept on smoking. She said that they were the only thing that kept her sane. She was on an oxygen tank for the last 2 years before her death.

The last year before her death she was in and out of the hospital all of the time. Finally, one evening at her home, after my step-mother (her sister) and my dad had left, she looked at her husband of 20 plus years, said that she could not do this anymore and that she loved him. She died 2 minutes later in her bed, and the world lost a beautiful sole that day.

It's funny, that the one thing that kept her sane was the very thing that drove her crazy, and killed her.

Lindsay Lewis


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