Tobacco And Lung Cancer

In State News on March 9, 2009 at 7:30 am

Read what Dr. Hanna posted on the Tell Hetrick website blog. Very moving.

Dying breath

in Communications


“Thank you, doctor.” Hearing those words, I leave the room. Sixty minutes prior, I met a 41-year-old female patient and her husband. She had started smoking when she was 15 and quit when she became pregnant at 34. The cough that wouldn’t go away was due to lung cancer. I tell her she will die from this wretched disease. While she appreciates my candor, her husband suffers in silence. She has two children, 6 and 4. Her 4-year-old asks me to “Make Mommy better.” Mommy dies four months later.

These patients keep coming day after day, week after week. They keep dying. They don’t want to suffer for too long. They come in all ages: my youngest is 19, my oldest 91. They never see it coming and when it comes, they wish it would go away. For most, it is too late.

Before I leave for the day, I sign another bereavement card. This happens most days of the week, every week of the year. As I drive towards home, I pass the IUPUI student center, lined with college kids lighting up near no-smoking signs. Another lost generation? Most will never quit. Tobacco will control their lives. It may already.

I can’t sit idly by, for I’ve seen too much. A Greek proverb states, “A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under which they will never sit.” Cancer-Free Lungs, an organization my wife and I founded, is busy planting trees. Won’t you join us, or one of the other organizations fighting smoking?


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