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Smoking's Family Victims

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My Daddy, 42, Deceased

Two pictures of Tonya's dad five months apart showing how cancer changed his appearance I read all the stories of those who have lost loved ones and wanted to share my story. My Dad was a wonderful man and I have always been a Daddy's girl. Needless to say I followed him around all the time. Our favorite thing to do was go to yard sales and flea markets. We were always on the go, until that day in June 2004. That day would slow us down forever.

My Dad had smoked since he was 13 and never thought about quitting. He was too busy with life. He had a terrible cough for the longest time and until his chest pains grew unbearable, he wouldn't go to the doctor. But when he finally did, they had terrible news, lung cancer, due to years of smoking.

The doctors were quick to say there wasn't much they could do. So from that day on we were living on the edge. It was a rough trip. Daddy didn't get really down until Sept. 2004 and from that point on he would never walk again. He was bedridden and cared for by Hospice nurses, my Mother and me. Until he got sick, my Dad was full of jokes and laughter, but the cancer took that all away and replaced it with pain and tears.

In the last week of my Daddy's life he couldn't even speak and was nonresponsive. Nov. 12, 2004, the night my Daddy died, he was at the hospice. The nurse asked my Mom if she would like to lay next to him. She hadn't been able to sleep next to him in months. She was overwhelmed when the nurse said this to her. My Dad reached up to her and wrapped his arms around her. He died in the early morning with my Mom in his arms. We do consider this a blessing. Others have died in such a more terrible and upsetting way. We know the Lord was with us throughout my Daddy's fight.

Please if you are a parent who smokes, know that when my Daddy died, I was changed forever. I don't have that sense of security a Father gives. My heart was broken. I've seen things throughout my Father's fight that no child should have to endure. It's not fair and could have been prevented. Show your kids you love them, quit smoking.

Tonya Church - Daughter
chicken7575 at yahoo.com

Joseph B. (Sonny) Rogers, 45, Deceased

Sonny was a true man's man who enjoyed a good game of darts and watching auto racing.  I guess there wasn't a sport that he didn't like and through it all he lived with a Marlboro red hanging from his lips.  How sad! Sonny started smoking as a teen to try and look "cool," just like a lot of us did.  But unlike others, he never tried to quit.  I guess he thought nothing would ever happen to him.  Back then, no one ever impressed upon us how bad smoking really was.  One winter, Sonny's voice became hoarse but we never thought much about it.  It lingered and lingered.  He went to the doctor and was given antibiotics but it never went away.  Sonny went in for a chest x-ray and that's when we found out - my brother had lung cancer!

Sonny just couldn't believe it!  None of us could!  He started on chemo and radiation right away and things were going ok.  He didn't feel real badly - he never really did.  Well, believe it or not, Sonny was sneaking smokes!!!  Unbelievable, I know!  Bless his heart, he was an addict!  He couldn't stop.  Then one day, five months later, Sonny had a pulmonary hemorrhage in his lung and bled to death on the bathroom floor all alone.  That day a piece of me died along with Sonny and I decided that there must be a way to stop people from killing themselves.  There are no words to express how much we loved him and how much he is missed.  Please everyone, please, try to stop smoking so your loved ones won't have to hurt everyday because you're gone.  I love you Sonny!

Cammy - Sister
davcam at worldnet.att.net

Debbie Williams, 43, Deceased

For my beautiful sister, Debbie Williams, who was taken from us June 9, 2000 by lung cancer.  Debbie was a life-long smoker until she passed away at the age of 43.  She left behind 4 wonderful children (ages ranging from 7-25), 2 granddaughters and a family who misses her every single day.

Debbie, not having you with me leaves an enormous void in my life that will never be filled.  I am thankful for the time we had together and take comfort in knowing that you are at peace.  I love and miss you!

Kelly - Sister
Kellywinnett at aol.com

Chris Dinkmeyer, 41, Deceased

This is in remembrance of my brother, Chris Dinkmeyer, who passed away from lung cancer on December 15th, 2000.  My brother was a BIG Nascar fan and Dale Earnhardt was his main man.  Chris liked fishing and he also had a very green thumb.  His yard was full of beautiful flowers and his house full of exotic plants. His girlfriend bought his house after his death and has tried to keep his plants thriving.  Chris was also the KING of barbecue and the neighborhood misses his Saturday Night parties and cooking.

He was only 41 years old.  Sadly, we never got along well and we were not too involved in each others lives until he got sick.  I now know what a wonderful brother, son, and friend he was to many people and I missed out on all of those years with him.  I love him dearly and not a day goes by that my heart doesn't ache to hug him.  I have permanently quit smoking because of this tragedy and hope others do to.  I love you Chris!

Sally Richardson - Sister
SRichardson at abctruck.com

Chris Dinkmeyer, 41, Deceased

I just read my daughter's memorial to her brother, and feel compelled to add my own comments.  Unlike Sally, neither my husband nor I ever smoked.  We were very distressed as Chris' addiction became more and more dangerous.  He did try to quit several times, but not until he was fatally hooked.  His story is so much like that of Sonny Rogers, 45, also on this board.  Chris also was treated with antibiotics for 3 or 4 months by a doctor who never took an x-ray.  Chris also had become very hoarse and his throat closed to the point he could hardly eat; he lost 30 pounds.  A doctor who was really attentive would have recognized that these symptoms were not a normal part of the bronchitis he was being treated for.  He even refilled some of those prescriptions by phone without seeing Chris in person.

It was heartbreaking to see Chris planning on how he was going to get so much done in his brand new business, once he felt better.  He did, indeed, work part of almost every day while undergoing chemo and radiation simultaneously.  He went into remission when the treatments were done--we knew it would be back, but never imagined it would be in only 2 weeks.  The stronger chemo he then took was almost surely the cause of his death; the cancer was spreading, but the chemo was deadly.  It took only 6 weeks, every day of it painful.

Now we are a family with no wonderful young man; he was our only son.  Anyone who wants to quit should spend time on the oncology floor of any hospital; not just for a visit, but to spend 48 hours non stop, with naps in the visitor's lounge.

Marlene Dinkmeyer - Mother

Fred Goldman, 43, Deceased

We could never convince my big brother, Fred, to quit smoking.  We badgered him constantly, complained it was killing him and making us sick.  We never imagined it would, in fact, kill him at the age of 43, at the end of the most wrenching, sorrowful year of our lives.  He moved back in with Mom for that last year, who fought his battles with the insurance companies and the pharmacies who could never seem to prescribe enough medication to kill his horrible pain.

Fred never accepted this was the end, and could never stop smoking, to the end.  A testimony to the chemical power of nicotine.  Now I am in my forties, and older than my big brother when he died, in 1995.  I want to rip cigarettes out of the mouths of every teen I see.  I wish they could see my brother, wasted away in him prime, and learn.  I wish they could see my mom, and envision how painful it must be to watch a son die slowly of a disease that could have been prevented.

Abby Brody - Sister
fbrodya at alfred.edu

Johnny, 40, Deceased

My uncle Johnny died of congestive heart failure on January 13, 2000.  He was one day away from his 41st birthday.  He smoked 3 packs of cigarettes a day for over 20 years.  For some reason, he just never cared about the consequences of his actions, of which he was well aware.  I guess he thought it couldn't happen to him, the same way that I think about dying.  A "BIG" Beatles fan, we buried his album collection with him.  He is greatly missed.  I love you uncle Johnny and now I am going to quit for you.

Tara Bzezinski - Niece

Melinda Brockett, 39, Deceased

I will always remember our dear loving sister Melinda for her bravery.  Not just in how she faced death once she knew it was over, but for her courage on the battlefield as well.  She was our sister and she was a real soldier.  A Schnook helicopter pilot, medic, Gulf War veteran, Officer in Army Reserves, and then a nurse, she made her death so easy on us.  A twenty-year smoker battling lung cancer, she was only 39 when she passed. 

Lung surgery, painful chemo, radiation, watching her lose her long beautiful hair, Melinda went through hell and she was so brave.  Then it spread to her brain and she lost her mobility.  It was sad!  Such a beautiful person yet so addicted to cigarettes, it just makes me furious that we make something in this country that kills people!  I can't understand that at all.  Melinda's son is now eighteen and he misses his mother desperately.  We all miss her so much!

Sandy Michael - Sister

Char, 33, Deceased

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 - Friend

David Page, 41, Deceased

David Page: click to enlargeCan I add someone to your list? The father of my two kids, 41 year-old David Page. He died of aortic dissection ... his aorta blew apart. High blood pressure and 3 packs-a-day. He left two daughters, ages 12 and 14.

Kelli Page - Wife
kelli.m.page at gmail.com

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WhyQuit.com Joel's Library Turkeyville
Written 2002.
Reformatted 09/02/18 by John R. Polito