I smoked for over 15 years. I started when I was around 8 years old, but didn’t seriously start smoking until I was in my 20s, smoking up to two packs a day. I lost both my mother and uncle to lung cancer. If it weren’t for my uncle, I wouldn’t have quit. My son was young, and he wanted me to be around for him. He made me promise to quit. It's not just the physical addiction, it's the emotional and mental addiction that’s hard to break. I cold turkey-ed. It was hard, but it was so, so worth it. I would never want to be addicted like that, ever again. And I know I could, if I picked up a cigarette. In a heartbeat.
I'm very proactive about my health now. Having lost my mother and uncle to the disease, it motivates me to stay on top of getting my lungs screened with the low-dose CT scan every year. It’s like getting a mammogram for me. It’s that important. Technology has changed a lot. The chances of survival, and living a good life, are so much greater than they were even 10 years ago. The scanning experience is a very simple process. It doesn’t hurt in any way, and you’re walked through every step. The scanning is over within six seconds.
The more you advocate for yourself, the better chance you have of survival. And the more you know, the easier it is to take care of it. My lungs still are not completely healed from the number of cigarettes that I smoked, and never will be. But, I’m OK, and I keep getting my scans. That's what counts.
First published: August 30, 2017