TWITTER: @sirbacon123

16 June 2010

What's the Deal with Cancer?

I have smoked two cigarettes in my life.
The first came at a party during my freshman year in college when I capped off a night of underage drinking by losing my tobacco virginity.
I know, I know, two wrongs don't make a right.
The second cigarette came about a week later when a girl space friend offered me a menthol.
Have you ever had a menthol?
It really is the cure to quit smoking.
It did it for me.
Now, I'm not claiming to be any type of health nut and I certainly enjoy eating straight out of the Ben and Jerry's pint as the clock strikes midnight, but fortunately tobacco has not been part of my diet since that night in 1985.
I can remember my dad puffing on a cigar from time to time.
And I can remember my mom sneaking cigarettes in the bathroom.
But fortunately I didn't come from a family of chain smokers.
Then again, my mom and dad had no brothers or sisters, so there really wasn't much of a sample.
It's always amazing to me when you walk through an airport and there is that smoke filled room with the closed glass door where the smokers are sent to cross pollenate.
How bad is this addiction that you actually WANT to open that door and walk into an ashtray?
So what's with all this smoke talk?
Well I got a call a couple of weeks ago from one of my closest friends who told me that his 72-year old father had just been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Of course, the first question out of my mouth was, "did he smoke?"
According to the American Cancer Society:
  • 90% of lung cancer patients come from tobacco smoke 
  • 70% of people with lung cancer are 65 years or older   
  • One out of 14 people will get lung cancer at some point   
  • 2009 Projections: 219,000 new cases, 159,000 deaths
So why does anyone still smoke?  
Try a menthol people.  You can thank me later.
"He smoked 30 years ago," my friend said.
He said that his father's tumor was the size of a tennis ball and that he was beginning chemo in a week and that they think the cancer has been growing for about three years, but the one piece of information that I really locked in on was that the doctors expected a full recovery.
And really that was all that mattered.
But that's not where this story ends.
You see my friend's father was driving around his hometown after the diagnosis and saw a bus with an advertisement on it.
It said something like... "if you have lung cancer and you don't think you should have lung cancer, give us a call."
It was probably a better slogan than that, but you get the point.
So he called.
The law office asked him a series of questions.
They learned that he was not a long time smoker.  They learned that he used to work in construction.  And they learned that he used to work in a building that contained asbestos.
Apparently this wasn't the first case of lung cancer without a smoking gun.
The lawyers told him that since he had developed lung cancer AND he worked in the building with asbestos, his settlement would be worth somewhere between 50 and 100 thousand dollars.
I guess that's good news.
My friend's dad shared the news with one of his former construction colleagues, who had been diagnosed with a mild case of Mesothelioma several years earlier.
Mesothelioma is also referred to as Asbestos Cancer.
As it turned out, his friend had spoken with a lawyer a few years back about his situation and he has been getting checks in the hundreds “from time-to-time.”
So let me get this straight -- if you are unlucky and you get lung cancer from a building with asbestos, you get one of those big Tiger Woods type checks in the neighborhood of 100 geeze.
But if you are unlucky and you ONLY get a mild case of Mesothelioma, you get dinner at Morton's.
Let me add that to the list of things that makes no sense.
Like smoking.


Anonymous said...

Sir Bacon

i usually understand ans appreciate your comments however today's entry left me puzzled .

not really sure what your point was but i keep you & your family in my thoughts & prayers

Sir Bacon said...

Thank you for reading the blog.

Anonymous said...

In an attempt to answer your rhetorical question - some studies demonstrate a link between smoking and depression self-medication.

Aside from that cancer thing, tobacco is a very effective anti-depressant. With all the social taboos regarding depression and mental illness, some folks can probably handle their denial better by buying a pack than seeing a shrink or taking SSRIs.

Not necessarily a bad choice: SSRis can increase suicide rate in some, depression will probably kill you too, and so do cigarettes.