The “other” Cancer

When I was little, we used to drive the 9 hours to Bluefield, WV to see my Great-Grandmother in her little log cabin built into the side of the mountain. A lot of those years, I remember my Great Uncle Johnny and his wife Sally coming along to spend time with us – especially at the family reunion.

Aunt Sally was small and slender (like my Grandmother) and she always had a long cigarette dangling from her fingers (when we were outside). That is actually one of the things I remember about her best: she would look at me watching her smoke and say “this is for grownups”.

Aunt Sally passed away on Monday from lung cancer… I never knew she was sick, but I could hardly act surprised, because all of my memories with her are with a cigarette in her dainty hands. This makes me absolutely crazy, because I just can’t stand the thought of J having to suffer like that, but when he says “I have to quit when I’m ready”, I can hardly argue.

J smokes 3-4 a day–nothing like Aunt Sally’s chain smoking–and yet I am filled with worry every time I see him pick up that lighter. How can I make this a supportive environment in which he can feel safe quitting without pushing too hard?

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