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Martha P

This story is not about me. It's about my father and so many people I have loved.

I was 8 years old and my brother was 5 when our father died of cancer. He was 48 years old. My understanding is that he was a cigarette smoker for many years before switching to a pipe and the occasional cigar. Even though I'm not sure where the cancer originated, my mother always made the association for us that it was as a result of smoking.

My father's four brothers, all heavy cigarette smokers, died of lung cancer. His 42 year old niece, a heavy smoker (she started when she was 9), died of lung cancer. I'm now 64 years old and have never smoked and have tried all my life to avoid second hand smoke, a subversive killer.

I thank my mother, (who died at the age of 85, never having smoked) every day of my life for keeping my brother and I safe from cigarettes. In an era when smoking was considered cool, my brother and I were not. All these years later, cool is being alive.

First published: November 2, 2016

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