Pain of smoking also impacts family

An open letter to those of you who smoke: Do you feel lucky, punk? (In the immortal words of Clint Eastwood)

I don’t understand cancer any more than anyone else. I’ve known people who smoked, ate all the wrong things, breathed in carcinogens and lived a long life before succumbing to cancers and other diseases. I’ve also known people who lived a healthy lifestyle, never smoked or quit smoking soon after they started and yet died in their 30s and 40s.

Cancer is a crap shoot, and unfortunately the track record for curing it isn’t too good. Are you betting your life that you won’t get it or that you can beat it? It’s not just dying you know. Everybody dies. It’s living months or years with pain and surgeries. It’s being disfigured, sliced up piece by piece as your cancer spreads. It’s knowing your spouse, or children, have to carry the load of keeping up the house, maintaining the yard, possibly while still working full time; as well as helping you to the bathroom, wiping your butt, feeding you, comforting you when the pain gets too bad.

Cancer is hoping your children don’t show up when you are coughing up blood or crying out in pain. It’s trying to explain to your children or your grandchildren (if you’re lucky) why you didn’t quit smoking sooner.

You are not just jeopardizing your life, you are condemning your family to the torture of watching you die, slowly, one breath at a time.

I’ve watched too many people suffer and die of all kinds of cancer. Cancer comes in all forms and for a myriad of reasons, but you have control over many of the causes. Some studies have said 50 percent of cancers can be prevented and only 5 percent are hereditary. Lifestyle changes are needed to prevent some of these cancers, things we have control over, such as smoking, overeating, and sedentary lifestyle.

We’ve all heard this information ad infinitum. Stop smoking, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise. It’s easy to recite the things we should do. The problem is doing them.

I realize that a smoker will not quit until they want to quit. No amount of nagging, preaching or pleading from their loved ones is going to do it. But just think for a moment what you may be doing to your family members. It is not just about you.

Please, stop smoking, and even better, don’t start.

Robyn Near is a Ripley resident. Send comments to