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The Smoker's Memorial - WhyQuit's Wall of Remembrance - Page 8

Page Eight

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

#80 - 12/08/14

I quit smoking since 10/09/10, the day my dad died so suddenly by heart attack at age 61. I was 26. He left this world without any notice and somehow I felt angry and abandoned because he could have quit, he could have done something to stop from smoking two packs of cigarettes per day. The doctor said that his lungs were black and useless and that basically he committed suicide. I quit smoking since then because I don't want smoking to be my cause of death!

I will always remember the day that my dad died as the day that saved my life.

Thank you dad, I am thinking of you every second.



#79 - 10/14/14

My mom smoked most if her life and so did my dad. They both quit but for my mom it was too late. My mom had copd and started coughing up blood. The sad news came she had lung cancer. During her chemo my mom was so strong but in time she started getting dementia. My mom who was always dressed the best with her "face on" and put together so beautifully quickly fell apart. The women who did everything was quickly turned into can't do a thing. For some reason she couldn't even hold her bowels. The hardest thing was watching my mother not eat, take care of herself and not knowing what she was doing.

I was her caretaker along with my dad and changed her diapers as she once changed mine. The day she was burried was the absolute worst day of my life, uncontrollable sobbing, knowing this was it, GOD took her home. I now met a man who smokes. Do I watch this happen again or will he quit for me? Nothing good comes out of smoking!



#78 - 04/21/14

On August 15, 2013 my older sister Karen died from lung cancer, just before her 38th birthday. Our mother smoked at home growing up, and Karen had started smoking regularly since she was 11, and was never able to quit no matter how hard she tried.

I used to think Karen was so cool growing up with a beautiful cheerleader for an older sister, six years my senior. She smoked all the time, even in middle school, and by the time she was in high school in the late 80s, she was already smoking two packs a day. They even called her the "smokin" hot cheerleader, cause she smoked all the time even as a young teenager. I tried so hard to find that classic picture of her in her gator cheerleader outfit she always wore sporting spotless white keds without socks, but I couldn't find it, and it just made me break down crying looking through all the old pictures from our childhood.

Karen always stayed the coolest big sister a guy could have, but even in college, her addiction to cigarettes only got worse and worse, as she got to where she was smoking at least three packs a day or more. She was never able to cut back to less than that no matter how hard she tried, even when she was pregnant, and lost her first baby to miscarriage, even later when she got divorced when her husband complained about her constant smoking. But even as she was becoming a hopelessly addicted chain smoker in college, she tried to do the right thing. I remember when she came home from college and found me smoking a cigarette on the back pourch when I was in middle school, and she told me I needed to be careful or I would end up addicted like her and not be able to go even thirty minutes without a cigarette. I didn't listen to her, and wished I had now.

She leaves behind two beautiful daughters, Sarah and Rebecca, 12 and 9 years old respectively. Last summer when visiting Karen at the hospital, where the stage 4 cancer was spreading rapidly, I caught Sarah sneaking a cigarette behind the parking garage. How could my beautiful 12 year old niece be smoking while her sweet 38 year old mother was dying from lung cancer next door? I wanted to be mad, but since I was there on a cigarette break myself, all I could do was just cry and tell her about the time her mother had told me to stop smoking. It didn't seem to stop either of us from smoking, because the addiction just runs too deep in our family. You'd think having a mother and grandmother die from cigarettes would set in, but I guess not. Shes just like her mother, sadly. It makes me cry just thinking about her becoming yet another victim of nicotine addiction. I pray she doesn't die from lung disease in her 30s like my sweet sister Karen did.

We love you Karen, and we know you're watching over us from heaven,



#77 - 11/20/13

I have been re reading your wonderful site on and off for the past couple of days. I am the mom of a beautiful 11 year old and I am 8 months into my final quit.

I have been reading your memorial today. What a wonderful idea to remember those we have lost to this terrible addiction. I have found encouragement to continue in my quit and have opened completely my heart to my own losses. I too lost my dad to lung cancer years ago. I also lost my mom to breast cancer when she was young. Although mom was never a smoker she has afflicted with cancer when she was pretty young. A fighter. She survived cancer many times until the end. My mom was an angel on Earth.

My dad was a chain smoker almost all his life. He was extremely strong and muscular but I remember, he coughed a lot. When I was 15 I started stealing his cigarettes. When he found out he was furious and brought home pictures of smokers lungs. I did not want to see, of course (I was already addicted). He gave up trying to make me understand, since he was unable to quit himself.

I smoked on and off for 35 years. I quit many times but relapsed after having just a single puff. I did it again and again in disbelief of the power of nicotine addiction. I am as hard headed as my dad and have been into denial most of my life in this topic. I have always been pro healthy lifestyles and still smoked through almost every problem. I knew cigarettes were deadly but somehow believed I could be spared.

Magical thinking. Even after feeling in my own body the harmful effects, I would not quit. I had a recent check up and am sure I have not escaped unharmed. I think it's not fatal but it is definitively important I take care of my body. Since I really quit this time I have started to discover the lies and mistruths I have believed for many years. I always thought I was so smart, I did not fully assess the ravaging effects of this addiction. I did not stop smoking even after witnessing my father's death.

Now I have a daughter. I have tried so many times to quit smoking since she was born. I had some successes but all gone in a puff. She pleaded and pleaded and I honestly tried. I am also a single parent. Well ... I am happy to say I have been successful in my quit. It hasn't been the longest, but it is definitively the final. I am completely determined. My determination and commitment grows everyday with each quit day.

I will not give in to addiction. The buck stops here.

This site has been a source of inspiration in my journey. Being addicted since my teens, I am discovering a new me I have come to value and respect. I have new goals and am open to learning. I am exercising and have the goal to run a mini marathon. Easier said than done, I am proud to run even a quarter marathon. To me it means the will to survive, try and strive. I need not impress anyone. I am just so happy to be free. Everyday a little more.

I am so touched by all your stories. That's what being human is all about. Sharing. My heart is with you and completely against this toxic deadly addiction. Smoking is death. Period.

Since so many of us begin in our teens, I am deeply concerned with my daughter and her generation. I want to get out there and speak at her schools and other schools. From what I have seen, there is no anti-smoking education at her school. I want to contribute. Cigarettes are just too available and kids are so misinformed.

If I have learned something in my final quit is that knowledge is the power we need to succeed and unveil the denials and lies that mask any addiction. It has changed all my perspective about smoking and smokers. It's a powerful addiction pretty much like heroin or crack. It's not life.

Kids need to know. I would appreciate your advise in this area. For now, in solidarity and love,



#76 - 03/20/13

My parents were robbed of their Golden Years, my children were cheated out of having their Grandparents and I am orphaned NO thanks to smoking.

My Mom had a massive stroke March 8, 1996 the day before her 57th birthday NO thanks to smoking. She was so young, strong and determined that she actually began to recover and even began to drive again. She even started to smoke again. Sadly, just 9 months later, her miraculous recovery was interrupted by several more strokes and a COPD diagnosis. My Mom was a woman that was once so full strength that I only ever saw her cry once (a tear or two at my Grandfather's funeral). She was now suffering so deeply that she cried daily. She was living trapped in a body that would not work for her any longer - NO thanks to smoking.

My Dad tirelessly devoted himself to caring for her needs, but after 3 years he was emotionally, physically and financially exhausted. Concerned for my Dad, we moved them in with us. As you can imagine, this was quite an adjustment to add 2 adults to a family of 4 that included my husband, me and our 4 year old son and 7 year old daughter. I won't blow sunshine, there were some difficult times, but we concentrated our efforts on 'life as usual' and giving my parents back the 'normal'things that their lives were missing.

I remember my Dad once telling me that he didn't feel the loneliness that he had once felt and that he was grateful for all the noise the kids made because the previous silence was deafening. Together, we all lived as an extended family unit for 2 years until my Mom passed away from complications of advanced stages of COPD on September 21, 2004 - NO thanks to smoking. These 2 years were the hardest years of my life and yet I wouldn't trade some of the best laughs and the most precious moments. While both my Dad and I vowed to quit smoking, neither of us did.

My Dad said once that it took several years after losing my Mom before he felt that he had 'found his way' again. He stayed living with us. He found new joy in his Grandchildren, cooking meals, shopping, training the dog, poking around in the yard, and working on odd projects. One of his favorite projects was working on an old pick- up truck he bought. He would fix stuff on it, put pin stripes on it, wash it, buff it, you name it. He loved to just mess around with that truck. My husband and I would see him out the window and chuckle. He was so content and we loved that he was happy, again. He deserved it.

Then it happened, 6 years after losing my Mom, my Dad was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma (the dreaded lung cancer) at a routine physical in June, 2010. He had been cancer free for 15 years after being treated for cancer of the larynx (throat) when he was 55. The Doctors had told him back then that if he didn't quit smoking that the odds were that cancer would find its way back in 5 years. He made it cancer free for 15 years.

We quit smoking together with this Stage 1 cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, the Stage I diagnosis was short lived. Just several weeks after the upper lobe of his left lung was surgically removed in September, 2010, cancer was found spread to my Dad's feet, hands, legs, knees, ribs, back, neck, pelvis and skull in October, 2010. His diagnosis was escalated to Stage IV. My Dad and I 'quit quitting' smoking together feeling the devastation of his prognosis. He began radiation and chemo immediately with cautious hopes for slowing the dramatic cancer growth. One morning my Dad awoke and showed me that overnight a golf ball sized mound had grown on his collar bone. We showed this to his radiation oncologist that same day thinking that it had to be a reaction to a medication or the treatments, or something. Their answer was an audible silence. This cancer was literally growing so fast that a tumor had appeared overnight - NO thanks to smoking.

On February 13th, 2011 (just 8 months after the routine physical found the shadows on the X-Ray), I became an orphan - NO thanks to smoking. Since then, I have a new addiction - not a single day goes by that I don't think about how much I miss having them both in my life.

I took my final puff on 2/4/2013.

Your loving daughter always, Kelly




#75 - 06/20/12

My name is Michelle K. Smith. I'm 43 years old, and married with two kids, ages eight and five. Five years ago today, my father was killed in a house fire, started by careless cigarette smoking. I miss him every day of my life.

If you smoke, *stop* already, because it will kill you too. Maybe fast - like my Dad - or slowly - also like my Dad; he was in the agonizing end stages of emphysema, each breath an effort, rattling, wet, desperate. So maybe burning to death in a few minutes was a small mercy. Either way, it will kill you, and you may well take someone with you. Your wife, or your husband, or your baby will burn up or suffocate in the fire you started. Or they'll get lung cancer years down the road. Maybe it'll just be asthma, but your smoking will have hurt them as surely as if you'd placed a lit cigarette on their skin.

*Stop* already, because it will kill you, and the people who love you will miss you every day of their lives, and they will never get over it. They'll have gaping, raw, bleeding, jagged holes in their hearts and in their lives because you took yourself away too soon. Their heart will break over and over as they watch their kids grow up and know you aren't there to see. Worse, those kids won't get to know you - maybe not even meet you - and have to learn second-hand just how brilliant you were. Except when it came to smoking.

So just *stop* already.

Michelle K. Smith


#74 - 03/19/12

I lost my dad James L. Miller on 3/6/2012 from heart failure caused by acute archelerosis of the arterys and veins. He passed so fast, he didn't even get to say goodbye. I know he would like to tell everyone who smokes "Please try to quit, or the smokes will make you quit." We tried day and night to make him quit, but he refused. After losing his left leg from circulation failure, he quit for 6 months, he started again. On his final journey, he finally died of circulation failure, blowing out his heart because of high blood pressure. I say to him now, safe journey.



#73 - 11/7/11

Neil T. Curtis is survived by his nine-year-old daughter Kristen and his bride Debra. Neil died of lung cancer on July 10, 2011, just 37 days after diagnosis. He died a proud "recovering nicotine addict" who took comfort in the fact that his real killer - nicotine - was no longer circulating within, that he died a free man. A member of WhyQuit's support group Freedom, Neil's online stop smoking journal documents in detail his awakening and what was likely his most liberating journey ever.

Just four days after quitting, on January 14, as if prophesying the challenge to come, he wrote, "I now call myself a recovering nicotine addict rather than an ex-smoker, because it reminds me of the power of this addiction and disease." "I never know if, or when, that spot will show up on my chest x-ray, but I know if I have to face that type of situation, I want to face it as a non-smoking recovering nicotine addict, and I won't go down without a fight."

By January 17, day 8, Neal was feeling pride, enjoying deep breaths, no longer coughing and savoring a new found sense of smell. By day 11 he'd gained a few pounds but was already working on it and his optimism about continuing success was on the rise.

Neal's one month celebration evidences just how much his thinking had evolved. "I originally named my first post journal "4 Decades Of Lies" because I have been smoking for over 40 years. The lies I was talking about was aimed at the tobacco and pharmaceutical companies, and the government for letting them do all that lying to us. After working this program for the last month I came to realize that I was doing the lying to myself for all those years. I never "liked" or "loved" smoking, cigarettes were not my friend, it was not O.K. to substitute NRT for cigarettes and think I was doing myself a big favor (it always led me back to smoking anyway), I thought smoking was a bad habit, I told myself I wasn't addicted, it was alright to have just one while I was trying to quit. I thought I couldn't live without smoking, I would never be able to quit for the long haul, nicotine feedings were not my #1 priority, I could never go a whole day without wanting a cigarette, and one of my favorites - you have to die from something, why not smoking? Etc. Etc. Etc. They were all lies to keep me feeding myself nicotine."

On March 23 Neil wrote, Well, I'm on Day 73 today and all is going well. I'm loving my freedom and I feel very far away from the possibility of using nicotine. I haven't been quit so long that I forgot what it was like to have my life revolve around smoking, but I have been quit long enough to see how much better life is now that I'm finding the real me. I did gain about 10 pounds, as predicted, but I know that will soon come off. I'm finding I have a lot more time on my hands. I've already painted the whole outside of my house, and now I'm working on re-landscaping the entire back yard. (All with the money I've saved from not smoking!) It truly is getting better and better. YQB Neal - NTAP"

Neal celebrated three months of freedom by documenting his path in destroying his mind's use rationalizations. He entitled it "The Real Me Versus the Junky."

On May 2 he posted stating, "I noticed on my quit meter that I have saved $560 so far. I'm getting paid to feel good!!" And on May 9 he wrote, "I have really been enjoying all the extra time, money, and energy I have since getting rid of all the nicotine. I don't ever want to go back to where I was."

And then it happened. It was June 16, 2011 when Neal shared the shocking news of his stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis, that it had already spread to his lymph nodes, thyroid and stomach. "We have to always be vigilant and realize the deadliness of this addiction we are fighting. I don't want any of you to experience the feeling I now get when my 9 year old daughter looks to me with all the Love in her eyes. I have no idea of what the future holds for me. I know because of the great people on this site that I will face my future as a non-smoker."

Some might be tempted to use Neal's journal as justification for that next fix, that he died of lung cancer anyway. But he clearly hoped others would learn from his shared awakening and end their self destruction while still time. Actually he went further. On February 9, 2011 he shared the dream that you "aspire to inspire before you expire." May Neal's wish come true. May there still be sufficient time for your own recovery to inspire others to follow.

John R. Polito


#72 - 11/04/11

Macklin Wayne Riley-MillerMy stepfather Macklin Wayne Riley-Miller was diagnosed with lung cancer and brain cancer after having an automobile accident on my 30th birthday, May 25, 2007. He fought his battle with cancer for almost 2 years, succumbing to brain, lung, and adrenal gland cancer March 29, 2009. He had smoked cigarettes for years and nothing seemed to make him want to quit, that is, until he received the lung cancer diagnosis.

In Loving Memory of:
Macklin Wayne Riley-Miller
September 29, 1951 to March 29, 2009

Submitted by: Khristella Joseph, Port Arthur, Texas <


#71 - 07/27/11

My dad died at 51 years of age on July 9th, 2010. I have waited a while to write this because I thought it would be easier if I let more time pass. It is still hard but I just have to let people know about his battle with addiction.

He was soooo addicted to cigarettes. When he was first diagnosed with lung cancer I remember watching him in the hospital room just tapping his fingers, chewing tons of gum, pacing and doing whatever he could to keep his mind off of smoking since he could not smoke in the hospital. He was also wearing a nicotine patch that was provided by the hospital. He was so visibly agitated and going through serious withdrawal the whole time he was there. He felt that if he could just have 1 cigarette everything would be so much better.

I don't think he had been without a cigarette in his hand in 20+ years. It made me so sad to watch my dad (who I always thought of as the strongest man on earth) go through such a hard time due to this addition. It was at this time that I realized that this addiction was truly going to defeat him. He never quit smoking. In fact, the minute he left the hospital after being diagnosed he lit up a cigarette. My dad's addiction to cigarettes was the most important thing in the world to him. He lived for cigarettes and he died for cigarettes. He would go without food, water, clothing, electricity or even shelter before he would go without nicotine. He lived for 2 and a half years after being diagnosed with lung cancer. By the time he died he was up to 5 or 6 packs of cigarettes a day. It was horrible watching him waste away for those last couple of years and the he was in a substantial amount of pain.

Just a few things I wanted to remember and say about my dad: Even up until the end of his life my dad was a kid at heart and loved playing video games, he loved his grandbabies and would always laugh and make jokes about everything, he was so witty and always had to be up to date on the latest news and events around the world. He loved to learn new things and reading science fiction books was his passion. He loved to listen to everyone else's life stories and problems and even when he was facing such horrible problems of his own, he never complained. Family was so important to him and he really felt bad for letting us all down by getting lung cancer. Making other people happy was always so important to him and whenever a guest came to the house no matter how sick he was he always made sure to get them a drink or at least asked if they wanted anything and if they were comfortable.

A lot of smokers will say "well you have to die of something" in order to defend their addiction. I always wonder why on earth would you want to pick to die that way? Yes we all die of something, but why choose that? I bet that the people who have died from cigarettes, if given a chance to do it all over again, would not have picked that path. It also bothers me so much when people say smoking is just "a hard habit to break". Do they honestly think that people are dying because of a habit? Nobody dies because of a habit. These people are battling full-blown addictions to nicotine.

Watching my dad suffer and die from Lung Cancer was one of the saddest things I have ever experienced in my life. In writing about this I am hoping that my experience will help at least one other family to not have to go through this. Life is so short, it seems such a waste to pay a cigarette company to slowly kill you. That is what my dad did. He literally paid the cigarette company on a daily basis in exchange for toxic chemicals to be introduced into his body until it eventually killed him. It is so sad really. Please try to stop smoking, and if you fail, try again and again and again, until you succeed. Think about how horrible it would be to have your family member writing about you on here.



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