I lost my father to lung cancer at the age of fourteen and I can’t help but wonder if that had an effect on my mental health. I have a tendency to fixate on death especially when I am depressed, ever since he passed.

The last words my father said to me was “Just cut them off!!” referring to his legs that had become useless from paralysis. That’s enough to traumatize anyone if not seeing my father slowly wither into a living skeleton.

My father was an intelligent, hard working man but he had addictions and demons. I knew his addictions but less about his demons which he never seemed to want to talk about. My father was a heavy smoker and drinker. He was an alcoholic who made questionable decisions but always loved his kids.

My father tried to give me everything he could whether that be a good work ethic or the latest pair of jeans. He taught me how to build with my hands and that with determination you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

I inherited from my father a predisposition to addiction. I struggled with drugs and alcohol in University using them to excession and sometimes to the point of being detrimental to my health. I coped with my demons the same way my father showed me how to – with intoxication.

I currently smoke the occasional bit of weed but for the most part my addiction is of a much simpler kind – cigarettes. I cannot seem to shake the habit of smoking since being hospitalized, ironically. The only fresh air and freedom you got at the hospital was going outside for a smoke which my friends did often. After standing around and watching them smoke, I decided to try one and then was hooked.

Three years later, I am trying to quit but am finding it extremely difficult. Smoking has become unfortunately a part of my life. I am also a social smoker and will share cigarettes with friends at the bar or smoke in the garage with my step father.

You would think I would know better having watched my father die from lung cancer. I watched the cancer spread throughout his body and to his brain to the point he was having visual hallucinations of a dog in the corner of the hospital room. I watched my father, who always had a beer belly and long curly hair, lose weight rapidly to the point he was skin and bones. I watched his hair slowly fall out from the chemotherapy and thought to myself I would never smoke a cigarette and subject myself to this pain.

But you know what? I did. I smoked a cigarette and then another, and another until I was addicted. I regret that decision to this day. I realize I am young, being under 30, and have plenty of time to quit but I find myself frustrated with my attempts.

I recently enrolled myself in a quit smoking program at my doctor’s office. I meet with a counsellor every three weeks to receive a supply of nicotine patches and gum and to discuss how I am doing. At my latest appointment I admitted I was not doing so good with quitting smoking. My main issue is that people around me consistently offer me smokes and I seem to be unable to say no. My counsellor suggested I avoid my friends until I get a smoke free week under my belt. I find this unrealistic seeing as I hang out with my friends everyday. However, I did agree to make a greater effort to quit in these following three weeks than ever before.

I asked my counsellor if he had any literature on quitting smoking to which he proceeded to hand me a work booklet titled “Journey 2 Quit.” Inside the booklet is questions you need to answer about smoking and facts about the harm smoking does to your health. The following are four facts I found alarming and further motivation to quit:

  1. Up to half of all smokers will die because of smoking.
  2. A smoker will die about eight years earlier than a non-smoker
  3. Smoking makes you 20 times more likely to die of lung cancer
  4. Smoking kills 13,000 people in Ontario every year

My counsellor also told me about another patient who quit smoking with a visual aid of a photograph of his grandchildren on the bathroom mirror. He would wake up every morning to brush his teeth and be reminded of why he was quitting. He wanted to grow up to see his grandchildren. I decided to do something similar and put a photograph of my father on my vanity mirror (ironically he is holding a cigarette in the photo). My motive behind doing this is to remind myself everyday that I do not want to become him. My father never got to meet his two beautiful nieces due to his premature death.

I have decided to set my quit date at a realistic two months from now (January 4 2019). On this date I want to be smoke free for at least two weeks. I know it may be hard but I CAN do this. I want to do it for my dad because I know he would want me to quit something that was ultimately hurting me in the long run. Quitting smoking will not only help my health but further prove to myself that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.

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A picture of my Dad on my Vanity mirror to motivate me to quit smoking.

 

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