This is possibly both one of the hardest and easiest blogs I have written so far. It comes from a place of both acceptance and anger but fundamentally still from my heart.
It’s no surprise I have a bee in my bonnet over the fact that my parents have smoked my whole life. Growing up in a family home full of toxic fumes. The stains on the wallpaper. The nasty odours. I won’t go on but you get my meaning. Fast track to the present day and suddenly the minuscule complaints I had as a kid are nothing in comparison to the issues now.
It’s thought that 90% of Lung Cancer patients develop it due to smoking. My dad is entitled to make his own decisions in life and is his own person. I do not control him nor can I force him to do anything he doesn’t want to do.
Smoking is an addiction and so I do appreciate that giving up is not easy. Temptations can be found everywhere and if you have done something your whole life then how can you realistically just stop?
I thought that being told that one of you has 6-12 months left to live may have inspired both my parents to have stopped. No questions, no doubts. It seems that the addiction just runs too heavy though.
My mum knows I have an issue with her smoking and this is not the first time I have mentioned this fact. A promise was made and as far as I am concerned a promise has been broken. My dad knows it’s the smoking that caused his cancer though am still not convinced he knows he is dying. He is also aware that I am not amused by the fact he continues to smoke. Would he have continued had the temptation not been around him at home – Who knows?
In fairness I was at the hospital appointment all those weeks ago when the doctors did say he could have one or two a day maximum. The doctor also said he could have a drink each night should he desire. He actually isn’t as fussed on the alcohol which is ironic as it’s not the alcohol that has caused this recent problem. It’s the smoking, the one thing he has now openly resumed. I almost preferred it when he thought he was doing it in secret. “What I don’t know doesn’t hurt” mentality. It also makes me think that the doctors know just how serious it really is and if you’re going to die then why go through the hassle of quitting and the stresses to the body this would cause. A fact that is not lost on me.
I guess what annoys me is that my parents have various friends out here. Some of whom have come close to death and as a result have given up smoking without a shadow of a doubt. Others believe that Chemo and other cancer treatments shouldn’t be given to people that continue to abuse their own bodies.
Internet searching is the worst thing you can do but fortunately on this subject most sites seem to be in agreement. Smoking is the biggest cause of cancers (not just lung cancer) – It causes 1 in 5 cancers to be precise. It also doesn’t stop there as it causes other problems including heart disease.
My mum had a basel cell carcinoma on her face that required treatment, she has had angina and heart attacks and also suffers from ongoing asthma. She smokes! Something tells me that this lifestyle choice isn’t helping her yet due to the addiction she just continues.
My dad at the end of the day is dying and we are playing the how long we can expand his life for game. Early prognosis was that he realistically has 6-12 months. Treatment is going well so who knows he may be lucky and have more time with us. It’s also not to say that this time may be zapped away from us without a second thought. It started aggressively and there is nothing to say it won’t just bounce back. The next batch of treatment after all is just to try and harness it. It’s not designed to cure him.
The funny thing is he’s now doing so well he is being considered for Radiation Therapy. Smoking during radiation therapy increases the risk of side effects, including oral mucositis (inflammation of the mouth and throat), loss of taste, xerostomia (dry mouth), weight loss, fatigue (tiredness and loss of energy), pneumonitis (inflammation of lung tissue), bone and soft tissue damage, and damaged voice quality.
Smoking through the Chemo he is currently on can increase the risk of side effects. Today my mum has started panicking as my dad has developed a cough but says it’s a side effect as he could suffer from Bronchitis. Obviously this affects the tubes that carry air to and from the lungs. I am sorry but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that this self-harm my parents are putting themselves through is the cause.
My mum thinks we argue a lot more these days. We don’t argue we just don’t necessarily see eye to eye on every subject; an idealist way of looking at it but then again the English do seek out the silver lining.
I am in the most fortunate position going. I have accepted I will lose my dad. It naturally doesn’t please me, but I get that we have the time we have been given to make memories. What I struggle with is watching both him and my mum complicate the treatment that they receive free of charge and then having to control my own feelings of bitterness towards the situation. As I say, they are their own people and can do as they please. It’s their body and their life. I just think sometimes they forget the impact that their decisions have on their loved ones. The ones that will be left to pick up the pieces. The ones that have been devastated by the news. The ones that struggle to get the time I have in order to come see him. The ones that may just miss out of this opportunity.
Being honest can sometimes be the hardest thing to do in life. I have found comfort in writing these blogs as it’s a way of not only informing people about how my great dad is doing but it’s also a way of me being able to voice my feelings in an honest and open way.
I don’t seek approval for what I say, I don’t even think I am always right. These are just my views, mostly from my heart and with just a little careful and thoughtful research put into the mix.