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Robert W., WA

I grew up in a small town called Diamond Bar in California. As anyone who has lived there can tell you, the smog settles in that part of California almost like smoke. I had terrible asthma as a child; my parents smoked; and the horrible air quality didn't help.

As a child, I swore I would never smoke, but my teenage years said something different. I started smoking at the age of 15, quit a couple of times up until I got lung cancer at 45 and lost my left lung. Did my smoking cause it? Did the terrible air quality cause it? Did the secondhand smoke I was subjected to as a child and adult do it? Probably all of them, mostly my smoking, I'm sure.

All through my childhood I was sickly because of asthma, smoking in the house and the horrible air quality. My childhood years were full of trips to the doctor's office; terrible asthma attacks; tons of medicine that didn't really work that well; and wheezing when running any kind of distance. I got sick frequently and missed lots of school.

Now I'm trying to get well enough again after surgery for cancer and several complications from it in order for the chemo and radiation to be able to work again. People don't get that just because I look "normal," I can't do a lot of things they and I used to take for granted. I'm frequently short of breath with one lung and cannot carry anything that weighs about 20 pounds or more for ANY kind of distance without losing my breath. Taking AWAY restrictions that promote healthy air from industrial America is insane; we should be doing better by our children. Money means nothing if no one is left to spend it...

First published: November 9, 2011

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