I had a most unexpected conversation with Baby over lunch today (that's her nickname).
She's a fairly new friend, whom i feel a lot of love for, and she suddenly shared with me how her dad passed away from cancer at age 66.
I just stared at her in the eyes and said, "I'm so sorry..."
Her: Yeah. He was in the hospital for three months before he passed away.
Me: What cancer was it?
Her: Lung cancer.
Then we were quiet for awhile.
Me: That's like, my worst fear.
Her: I know right. It's the worst worst...
Baby's eyes went slightly glassy and i started choking up from the emotion that filled the air.
She told me how they only found out at stage 4 cos it's such a silent killer.
How he felt tired for weeks and didn't want to go to work.
How he lost his appetite.
How his back hurt and he would want to lie on the floor to sleep cos it felt better.
How he refused to go to the doctor.
How the family forced him to go in the end.
She said that he gradually became immobile, and couldn't talk for 2 months leading up to his death.
He vomited blood cos his lungs were failing and somewhat cracking inside.
Me: Oh my god... it must have been so painful... To have your organs fail in you while you're still alive...
Her: Yeah la. He was on morphine all the time. He couldn't even drink water.
Me: Then how?
Her: We had to drip it into his mouth...
Me: Oh man...
Her: On the day he died, he couldn't move or talk. He moved his finger a little bit like this *gestured her pointer finger moving up and down slightly* to show that he wanted to sit up, so we would all prop him up la. Then he moved his finger like this *moved her own finger slightly from side to side* and we knew he wanted to look out of the window. So we carried him with his morphine and everything to the window so he could look outside. He smiled a bit... then we carried him back to his bed. After that he just... got worse and passed away at 7:30pm.
Oh i couldn't take it. I was totally crying openly by then in the cafe.
Luckily we were sitting in a corner but i don't think i cared very much.
The reason this came up is because Baby and Vince convinced me to get a vape recently. I've been trying to stop smoking, and it's so hard. I figured this could be a stepping stone for me to wean myself off cigarettes till i get disgusted by its smell and taste, and then wean myself off the vape. (We got ours from Vapebrothers.) Baby said that her dad had been smoking since he was a teenager.
Me: Do you regret not telling him something to stop him from smoking..?
Her: ALL THE TIME. I would never wish what we went through on any of my friends... to watch someone you love suffer like that... If i know that my friend's parents are smoking, i have to tell them.
Me: Do you think about him?
Her: Every day. We still talk about him, like memories we have, "do you remember..?"
Then she told me happy memories of how her dad and her would have a lunch date every Friday since she was in primary school, and how her mum and him made a pact that they would only be separated by death. I was quite amazed by how she could tell me all this without crying. I guess she must have cried everything out.
Me: 2011... it's quite recent...
Her: YEAH. I knew i had to stop smoking after that happened but i didn't know how. Then Vince intro-ed the vape to me la.
Me: Have you told many people this story?
Her: Just close friends...
Me: You should write about it and tell people. It's not that we DON'T know all this... we somehow delude ourselves into thinking we won't get it, or it's a small percentage.
Her: No man. Lung cancer is real. It's REAL!
Then i thought about how i'm the one with the blog.
So maybe i'm the one who should be writing about it.
I asked Baby for permission to blog about what she told me today,
and she said yes, hence this post you just read.
Thanks for letting me share your painful experience with everyone today.
I already have a desire to quit smoking, and this further cements my resolution to stop.
If this post affects even one person enough to make them rethink their addiction to cigarettes, or even to talk to someone they love about their addiction, then it is not for nothing.
+ + + + +
I posted the link to this on my Facebook and decided to share some comments on similar stories:
"Sad. And unfortunately it could have been worse. I saw my Dad going through the same aged 67. My memory is normally rubbish, but what I saw 25 years ago was truly horrific and permanent. Fuck me - if (for whatever reason) your lungs end up in that state, please make sure you have your Geneva clinic booked in advance. No family should have to go through that kind of ending."
- Lui Zurawski
" 🙁 My granddad smoked from when he was 18. He finally quit when he turned 59/60, but by then the damage was done and a couple of years later, lung cancer struck. He was gone in 4 months or so when I was 12. My cousins and I don't smoke because we remember his last months where breathing was difficult, and chemo was harsh on his body, and how tough it was on the family. Today, we still miss him dearly and wish he were here to see us grow up 🙁 It's really not worth it, Joyce!"