Fifty years ago today, Dr. Luther L. Terry, Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service, released the first report of the Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health.
The report concluded on the basis of 7,000 articles available at the time relating to smoking and disease that cigarettes were a cause for chronic bronchitis as well as lung and laryngeal cancer.
When I was waiting for test results I tried to make up a description in my mind of the consequences of a bad outcome; for myself and then for my wife and my children. For myself it maybe is not too bad - straight to the grave - which is where we all go; even if we think it is too early whenever it comes to that. It is awful, it is difficult to get used to that thought - if you ever are able to…it would be worst for my wife…she is the one who has to take the blow.
When I heard of going to the cancer clinic, I began shivering all over my body. As soon as I opened the door here I felt the smell of the house of death. I can still feel this smell. The word cancer is loaded with fear, I think, and I know some persons who have died of cancer. A tumor is a tumor; uncontrolled cell division, something growing and attacking inner organs.
I react severely to the cytotoxic drugs. I feel so sick, and although I get other drugs to subdue the vomiting, the sick feeling is there, rocking my body all the way. I feel as if I am being run over by a steamroller - my whole body is reacting.
I remember when I woke up from the operation the surgeon told me they had found “islands of outgrowths” in the peritoneum, which was negative news. Something strange happened to me; all anaesthetics and all drugs disappeared from my body, my brain become crystal- clear and I thought: “How can I tell this to my wife?
Three years ago today, I personally had an experience with the final days of a man. I can still remember watching this once proud and grown man grow weak and frail as his cancer progressed. I remember this man being healthy only months before lying in a bed, eyes closed and lips pursed, wrestling internally with the rebellious cells of his body and the toxic therapy coursing through his veins. I remember refusing to give into the truth that lay before me.
That this man was my father.