Everyone is on this earth for a matter of time. When you lose someone you love, it hurts. The pain of losing someone to cancer from smoking hurts even more, because the pain and suffering caused by the smoking is preventable. Cynthia S., one of the educators taking the Florida Statewide Tobacco Prevention Training and Intervention online course, shared her story of how big tobacco impacted her life.No matter what anti-tobacco campaign comes out, they all say the same thing; Tobacco Kills You. My mother, who died of lung cancer after 48 years of smoking, always said, “we are all going to die. I’ll be happy along the way.” If she could have seen a video of herself in the future, she would have changed her mind very quickly. She was diagnosed with lung cancer December 28, 2005 after spending time in the hospital during the holidays with pneumonia. After her extended hospital stay, she wasn’t getting better, but worse, so an MRI was completed which found a “mass” in her right lung. Finally, the biopsy was performed on the mass, and the cancer was diagnosed. She cried, of course, and immediately started repeating over and over again to my father,” I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry.” The next day the doctors presented my parents with a “plan of action” for her treatment; January 15, she would start radiation treatments. Well on January 15, 2006 @ 2:05am, my mother got up to use the bathroom and fell down in the middle of the bathroom floor unable to move. She had just experienced a stroke. Once back in the hospital, she was subjected to more and more tests to screen everything. Just two weeks after her diagnosis of lung cancer, she is lying in the hospital bed once again, partially paralyzed and unable to speak, due to the stroke, and finds out that the cancer has grown at an extraordinary rate and enclosed her aorta to the point of strangulation. The doctor then told my dad that she had only 2-30 days to live. Soon her heart would not receive the blood it needed, and she would die of heart failure caused by the cancer. The last two weeks of my mother’s life were horrific for her, and yet under the circumstances, she was blessed to have her husband and four adult children that were able to take the 2 weeks off with her to care for her with the help of hospice. We fed her, bathed her, cleaned her from her bodily functions, as she was bedridden, and never left her alone. We stood vigil with her 24/7 while she slowly, painfully, and deeply sorrowfully died. I never want to witness another loved one, including myself, to ever have to live through that again. Maybe if more people truly understood what it takes from loved ones lives to watch them dying so horrifically, they would find a way to quit smoking or never smoke at all.
It is difficult for kids, who measure their lives in half-years, to comprehend and envision their lives in the future. They don’t have the education, experience, and maturity to understand that their actions today impact the consequences of their later years. The Florida Statewide Tobacco Prevention and Intervention online course is a way for educators to help students understand how tobacco can impact their life, and help the students make informed and healthy decisions. The course is free. Check out the site at www.tobaccopreventiontraining.org.