Bobby Bradford letter to editor – 8/11/2015

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Letter to the editor
Mom’s death leaves family regretting buying cigarettes

Some things come and go over the years. Pay phone booths, video cassette recorders, paying bills in person and three-wheeler bikes, to name a few.

But one powerful thing that is always here, comes in all shapes and forms and always talked about is cancer. Even the AIDS virus isn’t heard of as much as it was back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I know it’s still around but as a nation we have become a lot wiser when it comes to that terrible disease.

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We as a nation need to get smarter when it comes to cancer. There are over 100 different types of cancer. But it’s lung cancer that hit my life personally.

Wednesday, August 12 will mark the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death. She died three days after my birthday and just 29 days before she would have turned 70. On July 31, 2014, my sister, brother and I finally convinced our mom to let us admit her into the hospital.
Her health had been steadily declining for months. We may have overlooked it due to the fact we knew she was 69 and had already been diagnosed with early dementia, but as time went by we knew it was more than that. So after the doctors got the test results back we got the news we all feared — our mother had lung cancer. The doctor said within a month our mother would be gone from this world.

All of the years of smoking cigarettes had caused the lung cancer. The doctor said she was in the worst shape he had ever seen. We didn’t want to hear that, but it was the truth and the truth hurts.

After we made the decision to enter our mother in a hospice program so she could die at home, we all looked at each other with guilt. We felt like we contributed to our mom’s cancer. Our mom started smoking cigarettes when she was a teenager back in the 1950s. As we got older, we did take steps to make her desire for smoking go away. She would quit, but she always started back again.

Eventually, we started to accept it without really knowing it. She would ask us to go and get her a pack of cigarettes. We would, but then we decided to stop. She couldn’t get any because she had stopped driving by then.

But then we would see the sad expression on her face, a look of sorrow and not wanting to live. We couldn’t take that, so we started back buying them for her.

Sometimes I would buy her a pack without knowing that either my brother or sister had already bought her a pack earlier that day. Two packs a day! Forty cigarettes! By then she was in her late 60s. We were hurting her and we didn’t know it.

That’s why we wished we could take it all back and let her get mad and look sad rather than to feed her those cancer sticks.

Don’t get me wrong. She started smoking on her own at the age of 13. She died at 70. That’s about 57 years of smoking. She got addicted to them.

So for all you young people, remember if you don’t stop smoking now, you can become addicted also.

Tobacco use remains the largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in our country. Yet more than 55.8 million in the U.S. smoke cigarettes; 12.4 million smoke cigars, 2.3 smoke tobacco from a pipe and 8.8 million use smokeless tobacco. These numbers are from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Our country spent $133 billion from 2000 to 2013 treating tobacco-related illness. That was money taken away from improving things like transportation, education, public safety and rural development.

And the average price of a pack of cigarettes is $6.36, but it costs $35 in health-related cost to you, the taxpayer.

A lot of people — both young and old — come up and thank me for writing these letters, but if one person who reads this decides to stop smoking then this would be my best letter ever, because tobacco use not only can lead to lung cancer but  also cancer of the lips and mouth, colon cancer, throat cancer, cervical cancer, blindness, heart disease, asthma, early menopause and reduced fertility.

Bobby Bradford