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A Really Stupid Embarrasing Thing

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

Hi Everyone,

I have to come clean. I don't know if anyone else is in this silly, stupid situation, but I took a pretty fatalistic attitude about my cancer. Since it is genetic, I sort of thought to myself, "Oh well. Whatever I do or don't do, the outcome will be the same." So I never quit smoking. I know that makes me a prime idiot, but I can't seem to stop the addiction. Any suggestions?

Kirsten

trainer's picture
trainer
Posts: 242
Joined: Sep 2008

Since I'm not a smoker and never have been, I can't offer any advice here other than moral support for you. My wife had been a heavy smoker in high school and college, but quit cold turkey right before we got married. Not sure how she did it other than determination and faith. She's not smoked for nearly 40 years now. It can be done, obviously. I'm sure others on the board will weigh in. What I did find very interesting in my post-op days in the hospital was how weak your lungs can get, even during the relatively brief operation. I sure hope you can find some improvement before you have to have an op, if that's your course. I've come to enjoy and need the support that groups like the Semicolons offer. Are there any such groups for smokers that you've come across? I like strength in numbers.

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

You are soooo right. When I had my second surgery I got pneumonia; it wasn't fun. And it took a lot longer to recover. But for some reason, as soon as I feel ok again, the craving comes & I give in to it. I know I'm stronger than that, but I don't really believe it. I will try harder. Thanks for the encouragement!

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

AAAGGGHHHH! I feel for ya, Kirsten! I smoked for 5 years when I was younger, quit when I became pregnant with my first child. I then smoked for a year when I was 30, stupidly to spite my then-husband for his disgusting snuff habit! Quit again. I then took up smoking cigars about the time of my diagnosis! I finally quit that for good after my recurrence in 2006! What an idiot I was for the cigar thing! Just the thought of the floating carcinogens in my immuno-suppressed body makes me cringe now! RUNNNN to your local hospital for assistance with quitting your tobacco addiction!
mary

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trainer
Posts: 242
Joined: Sep 2008

So, tattooed lady, the truth is revealed, a tattoo, ride Harleys and smoke cigars! You are ever surprising. Good advice about going to the hospital for assistance.

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

Yep, and if i dig into my closet real deep I'll probably find some nice bike leathers and stud collars!
mary

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

Mary, Mary, Mary. You are tooooo cool. The more you post, the more interesting you are. First the Harley thing, then tattoos and now cigars! I hear you loud & clear, though. Sometimes I do visualize all the carcinogens galloping around my body and I am grossed out. Then I have a cigarette. It's insane. I have quit several times in the almost 37 years since I started. The first serious attempt, I quit for a year. During that year I gained 100 pounds. When I hit the 100-lb mark, I bought a carton of cigarettes. Never lost all the weight, though--only about half. But I think that is one of my great fears. More weight would just crush me--even more than the cancer for some reason. It has been my personal source of hurt & humiliation since a child. I must keep trying, though. Thanks!

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kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

What an incredible story! This is very inspiring to me. I used to love to swim, partly because I didn't feel my weight in the water, and partly because I love the feel of water. I'm sure that if I got in now, I would not be able to go 3 meters before gasping & going under. But I am going to think very hard about your husband's story, because if this smoking prevents me from helping someone survive, I would be devastated. Thank you!

CherylHutch's picture
CherylHutch
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Hey Kirsten,

I don't smoke anymore... but I did for 32 years. I'd say for the first 20 of those years, smoking was never really considered a taboo thing. As a young adult it was a "cool" thing to do, then because I was involved in theatre, it was just something that all theatre people seemed to do (in hindsight, I have no idea how dancers and performers could smoke and do their craft, but back in the 70s/80s it was totally acceptable). It wasn't until the 90s really that it became more publicly aware that smoking was actually bad for you.

Well, being the stubborn person I was/still am, there was no way a "new study" was going to tell me *I* had to quit something I totally enjoyed doing. As more and more friends quit smoking and it got to the point where 50% smoked, 50% didn't... I was in the 50% smoking category... and still enjoying every puff! Even when they now started making it real difficult for us smokers (no smoking at your desk, no smoking inside a public building, now smoking in the doorways... now no smoking within 50 metres of a doorway or sidewalk)... I still hung in there.

Then one day I said to myself, as I picked up a carton of ciggies... just why are you smoking? It's costing you and arm and a leg, and not too deep down you know it's not healthy for you... so can you really say it's because you enjoy it so much?? Just give me a reason why you think you should still be smoking and I'm fine with that, but I've lost track of whether we are doing this out of spite, or if it's because we realllllly enjoy smoking. Well, I couldn't give myself an answer. I thought I really enjoyed it, but I have to admit, it's lost a bit of it's enjoyment since so few others around me smoked... so it was no longer a social thing. I hated the fact that up here, a carton (10 packages) was costing me over $80)... so I told myself, if you really and truly enjoy it, then fine, but otherwise, it seems like you are kind of beating a dead horse.

So, I put that carton of 10 packs up on my fridge and told myeself - "OK, you know where they are... if you really want them, then fine, otherwise, quit. And none of this fooling around where you say you are going to quit, but then you sneak a ciggy here and there... either you smoke, or you quit." That was Day 1 of me quitting... and once I started quitting, I couldn't even have a puff of a ciggy otherwise that would mean I had to start all over again. Call me stubborn, but I refuse to be one of these people who take 5-10 attempts before quitting... that's just this competitive streak in me.

So, I guess you have to sit down with yourself and ask yourself some pretty hard questions... and no, you don't need to give answers that you think others want to hear. Why do you smoke? Why don't you want to quit? I don't think you need to tell yourself how bad smoking is for you... we've all been inundated with that information.

But here's something else to think about and you need to do some serious thinking on it. Do you want to live? I know, I know... none of us want to die... I bet we all can scream out to our doctors, "I DON'T WANT TO DIE!!!" But the real question... Do YOU want to LIVE?? If the answer is YES! I want to live!!! Then that means you have to be willing to try every treatment or procedure that will aid in fighting this beast. And think about it... if you need surgery, especially lung surgery, but really, any kind of surgery... if you smoke, then there's a good chance a surgeon may turn you down as not an eligible candidate, or tell you that you have to have quit smoking for at least 6-12 months before he/she will do the surgery... and by then, maybe the surgery won't be usedful because you had to wait a year.

So... rather than beat yourself up and say how stupid you are... put that all aside and ask yourself, "Do I want to LIVE?" and then you can make your choices :)

Huggggggs,

Cheryl

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

Hi Cheryl. Thank you so much for the response. I don't know if I have the same degree of stubborness as you. My mother did. One night in 1966 or so, she was out of cigarettes at 11 o'clock at night and found herself leaving the house in search of smokes. The next day she decided that she was not a slave and quit. She never smoked again.

Dad, on the other hand, smoked until he couldn't access cigarettes any more (he was an amputee who never got mobile again.) I remember car rides as a small child, sitting in the back seat, feeling nauseated as Mom & Dad filled the car with smoke. I used to kid them that I started smoking at 13 in self-defense. However the real reason is that is really was "cool" back then.

Like I told Mary, I have made a few serious attempts to quit, the first lasting one year during which I gained 100 pounds. This was devastating, since I have always had weight problems. The second attempt lasted about 8 months; I used an aversion therapy program that was effective for a while, but then wore off. The last time was after the 1st surgery and chemo. I was just too sick to smoke, but as soon as I felt better, I just started puffing away again.

I really want to stop now. It's stinky, it's expensive, and it may cost me my life. You are right. I have to answer serious questions and make my choice.

Thanks for the pep talk and the understanding. I will take it from here.

Bless you,
Kirsten

kristasplace's picture
kristasplace
Posts: 956
Joined: Oct 2007

Hi Kirsten! I have the same problem as you. I'm still smoking! I used wellbutrin when i was first diagnosed, and quit for four months during my first few months of chemo. After my surgery, i started again! My Mother blames my boyfriend since he didn't quit, but in all actuality, i really believed i could have a cigarette now and then, and not get addicted again. How foolish i was! Now i'm smoking more than ever. I called 1-800-no-butts, and got myself back on the zyban, and we've worked out a plan together for cutting back. It takes the zyban (wellbutrin) two weeks to start working, and it does work. It almost completely takes away the cravings, the habit is easier to quit when you're not having a nicotine fit! So what we're going to do once the zyban kicks in, is cut my smoking to 10 cigarettes a day, then slowly begin eliminating cigarettes until i decide i don't need them at all. Your insurance may pay for the zyban if you go through the no butts number. They give you a certificate for completing their questions over the phone.

I agree that the government should be using all the cigarette taxes to give zyban to people to quit. It's very expensive without insurance, more than the average person can afford. Of course we always can find money to get the cigarettes! The zyban is $100 right up front for just one month.

Of course nothing is going to work without the will to quit, and that's what i usually lack. I enjoy it. It's one of the few pleasures left after what this cancer has taken, but i figure i can find another pleasure that is less damaging.

Keep me posted on how it goes, and if you're able to get the zyban.

Many hugs,
Krista

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

Hey Krista,

You are right about the enjoyment factor, but I broke it down to which cigarettes I really, really enjoy during the day, and it comes to about 5. The other 10 to 15 are just habit, boredom or nervous hand things.

I have been on Wellbutrin as an antidepressant for 2 1/2 years now. It has never suppressed my cravings. My husband says that Chantix works initially, but once he stops it, he goes back to smoking, as well. I have tried aversion therapy, but it wore off after about half a year.

I am also a compulsive binge eater. Lots of squirrelly stuff going on in my brain. I have been a closet binger as long as I can remember. As early as 4 years old I was stashing food and gorging myself in secret.

But I have found that if I am engrossed in something, like playing the piano, composing, drawing, reading an excellent book etc, I don't even think about cigarettes or food. It's when I am not completely engrossed in something that I immediately think of cigarettes/food. It is hard to be 100% engrossed in anything all the time.

It has been very liberating to tell about this smoking thing. It has also been very comforting to know that I am not a freak. We are all struggling with something in our lives, and we just have to keep fighting. Thank you for your post!

Hugs,
Kirsten

tlsart's picture
tlsart
Posts: 33
Joined: Jul 2008

Kirsten,

I smoked when I was younger quit at age 23, started again at 35, my husband of now 27 years has always smoked. I was really addicted this last time and kept trying to find the answer.I look back at it now and laugh only my close friends knew I smoked, I never let anyone smoke in my car or home (neat freak in me)we always went outside even in cold weather to smoke. Last fall the cold started early and I said I'm not spending another winter on the porch of my own home smoking I'm going to give them up. I was down to 3 or 5 per day in Dec. when my doctor said your going to have to quit smoking, you have colon cancer. I put them down that day and can say for me it was easy, but I was in the hospital almost immediatly for colon resection and would have had to drag a IV pole outside in the cold if I wanted to smoke at the hospital. I had a dream about them 2 nights ago and thought when I awoke that I had actually had a cigarette swore I could smell them on me and realized my husband was standing at my bedside asking if I was ok, he had just come in from outside and had been smoking boy did he reak hence that's where the smell came from and I said I wish you could quit smoking they really smell bad. He said well when they tell me I have cancer maybe I'll quit to, till then I smokin!!! I wish you the best it's vary difficult, I have always said I think any addiction is the worst affliction you can have, be it food, sex, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes. Addictions are accepted by society as a whole and there isn't one on the list if used in moderation dosent ease the stress in daily life for most of us. You have my best regards and good luck!!!! Theresa

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

Wow, Theresa. You sound like my sister! She has never smoked in her car, and doesn't smoke all day at work--she's a surgeon. Most of her colleagues have no idea she smokes. However, she told me that on her way home every day, she is just counting down the minutes until she can light up and keep lighting up all evening. Weirdly, she doesn't miss them all during the day.

The last time I "quit" and I saw her, she said that in her memory I had never not smelled like smoke until then. That sort of amazed me, but I started smoking when I was 13 and she was 6, so I guess that's true. Of course, now that I am back to smoking she is very disappointed, since she was sort of looking to me to be her inspiration to quit.

There are so many reasons not to smoke and no good ones to smoke. I have to do it or not, and stop whining about it. I just wanted to come clean and sort of find out what is working for other smokers or former smokers.

Thanks so much for your good wishes.

Bless you,
Kirsten

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi Kirsten,

If you want to quit, and you are ready to, then there are ways to do so -- and you can. But I just want to say I don't think you (or any of us) should beat yourself up about things that we did or did not do in the past. That is the past. And, in my opinion, it is wasted negative energy. Look forward, and do what is best/right for you - and your beautiful body!

Tara

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

That's the great thing about you, Tara! You are always looking forward in a positive way! The whole world needs more folks like you. Thanks for the confidence. You are right about not dwelling in the past--we should look forward, and for me that means looking forward to a smoke-free life!

Thank you!
Kirsten

chynabear's picture
chynabear
Posts: 483
Joined: Jul 2005

My parents were smokers for as long as I can remember. I know they went through their "no smoking" phases, the longest lasting 4 years before they picked it back up again. My dad used to smoke 4 packs a day... though, I think he mostly held them in his fingers or mouth as he wasn't nearly as unhealthy as he should have been. I remember he used to wheeze so badly when he was bending over to put on his shoes. Then, they both came down with the flu and it hurt too bad to smoke. Not having insurance, they were both sick for a few weeks. At that point, they looked at each other and said, "It's now or never. Why would we want to pick it back up again now that we have been a few days without." That was about 15 years ago or so. My mom can't stand the smell of smoke now and worries if she quit soon enough. She also knows that if she ever has another, she will be addicted for life as each quitting time became harder.

My father-in-law (and mother-in-law for that matter) were your typical closet smokers. I think my MIL would have a smoke after dinner and before bed. My FIL would smoke throughout the day when he could. Nearly two years ago, my FIL fell through the ceiling and landed on their oak coffee table before falling to the wood floor 10' below. He punctured a lung among various injuries and broken bones. His trauma was bad enough, but it nearly killed him because he was a smoker. Not only that, but he was going through withdrawals while trying to heal. The doctors finally gave him a patch and had to hevily sedate him after they realized what was going on because his body was not healing well enough. He realized how much more difficult his healing was because of the smoking. He has not touched a cigarette since. My MIL quit after this as well, but she has inhuman self-control and never smoked a lot.

I have seen 1-800 numbers for help in quitting. I think it's a great idea to visit your doc or hospital for ideas and suggestions.

I think the real key is to having to want this for yourself. You're worth it... if you want it.

Good luck!

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

Wow, what an incredible story! Lung punctures are NO JOKE! Whatever abuse we subject ourselve to comes back & bites us sooner or later. I will make every effort to quit!!!!! Thanks for the good luck wishes!

Kirsten

kristasplace's picture
kristasplace
Posts: 956
Joined: Oct 2007

I'm so glad that you brought up this topic, Kirsten! It's really funny to think back on the last six months of chemo in the infusion center for up to six hours each time, and wheeling my IV cart out back to sneak a smoke. I never saw anyone else do it, and i wondered what people thought who saw me. I tend not to care what people think, so it didn't stop me. It's such a powerful addiction, that in my own mind i thought i looked crazy, stupid, and foolish, but didn't much care. Like you, i gained major weight the first time i quit years ago, and never tried again until the wellbutrin. It worked the first time because i was determined. When i started the pills again, it took them months to work, and i was down to three a day, then my insurance stopped paying for them, and before long, i was back to a pack a day.

It's all about training yourself. It took 26 years to train my body to crave it and think it needs it, and it won't take nearly that long to retrain myself to not need it. Now that the wellbutrin has kicked in, i can feel myself not NEEDING it, but the habit continues. I'm now slowly starting to talk myself out of the thought when it pops into my head, and slowly stretching the intervals.

I'm also dieting which will help with the cravings since i crave cigarettes more after i eat. Eat less, smoke less. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Keep us posted with your progress!
Krista

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

Hi Krista,

It's so funny. I thought I was a unique idiot and went to great lengths to hide it from others for a while. I did tell my doctors, and they just look at me with that, "Wow, how stupid are you!" look. It's reassuring to know that I'm not alone in this battle. Even if you don't have cancer, you feel like a dumba-- for doing it, but now I feel sort of like a super dumba---! I do feel a lot better and re-inspired after reading all the posts. This is what makes this forum so excellent!!!!

Hugs,
Kirsten

Buzzard's picture
Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

OK...I quit after 18 years of 2 packs a day on December 18th 2007, threw em down. Got mad because I have young children and I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to see them grow up. I am not or will not be a slave to cigarettes,or cancer and will not succumb to either. It was not for me , it was for those who love me that want to keep me around. If they love me that much the least I can do for them is quit smoking. Tell ya what, take a piece of white cloth like a pillow case and take a draw off a cigarette and then blow it through the mesh of the pillow case and look at what is left behind. YUCKKKKK.....that goes into your body. Also, look at the money I have saved by quitting, $250 per month. I don't stink anymore, food taste way better, etc, etc. Alright, I'm really doing great then BOOOOM, I was diagnosed with cancer in March. Talk about making ya mad. OK, I have now quit smoking to save my life and they tell me I have cancer. Might as well start smoking again, right ? WRONGGGGGGG...I am going to beat them both, the smoking and the cancer because I am a lot stronger than they are. The cancer is a monster and so are the cigs but they have never come up against someone like me before.....I took my life back when I quit smoking and I will be damned if cigarettes or cancer will kill me. Thats how I fight my battle...head on. Get mad, throw em down and tell yourself thats the first step in beating it all, and it is.......
God Bless ya.........and Good Luck

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

Man, you are a warrior! I can't imagine taking that step, going through all the effort of quitting, and then being smacked upside the head with the diagnosis. I would have ranted and raved...and probably lit up.

Makes me very ashamed to be addicted like this. I have done the blowing through the white cloth thing, and it is soooo gross. This was part of the aversion therapy I did for a while. They also stuck you in a tiny booth that was filled with all the residue of smoke, filled with cigarette butts, and made you smoke cigarette after cigarette without inhaling. That kept me off the smokes for at least 3 days every time. But alas, addiction is not rational. I have to make my rational mind overcome the chemical receptors telling me I need this when I don't.

You and everyone who responded to this post make me feel like I CAN DO IT! I WILL DO IT! Thank you so much!

God bless,
Kirsten

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