What A Relief, I Think I Have Cancer!


8:47 PM - Apr 16, 2001#1

Joel's Reinforcement Library

What A Relief, I Think I Have Cancer!

"Last night I was getting a burning sensation in my lungs. I actually thought I had lung cancer. I wasn't scared, surprised, or even upset. I was actually happy. I can't remember ever looking so forward to being diagnosed of having a terminal illness." This unusual statement was made to me by a clinic participant on her fourth day without smoking. While it sounds like the ravings of a severely depressed or mentally ill individual, in fact she was nothing of the sort. To the contrary, she was smiling and laughing when she said it.

What was the humor she saw in the statement? As soon as she said it to herself the night before, she realized the pain she was experiencing was the same complaints she heard three other people describe earlier that day at her clinic. It was a normal part of the healing process from quitting smoking. She also recognized the fact that she was not looking forward to a debilitating illness and a early demise. She was looking forward to taking a cigarette. When the pain started she rationalized that as long as she had lung cancer already, she might as well smoke. Then she realized she was looking forward to cancer. At that point she recognized just how morbid her thought processes had become. Not because she was quitting smoking, but because she was an addict was she capable of thinking in such depraved terms. Upon recognizing the absurdity of the situation, she laughed off the urge and went to bed.

It is important to remember just how irrational your thoughts were when you too were a smoker. As a smoker you were constantly warned of the dangers through the media, physicians, family, friends who quit, and most importantly, your own body. Not a week goes by when you were not being bombarded by the constant annoying message that smoking was impairing and killing you. But being the obedient addict you were, you disregarded these pestering outside influences to obey your true master--your cigarette. As Vic, the participant in my first clinic once stated, "Everywhere I turned I was being warned about cigarettes. Newspapers reports and magazines articles constantly reinforced that cigarettes were deadly. Even bill boards advertising cigarettes carried the Surgeon General's warning signal. Every time I'd reach for my pack, a warning label stared me in the face. It was only a matter of time before I reached the only logical conclusion. I quit reading!"

The control cigarettes exert on you when you are in the grip of the addiction is complete. It makes you say and do things that when observed by outside observers makes you look weak, stupid or crazed. At the same time it robs you of your money, health and eventually life. Once free of cigarettes you can recognize all these symptoms of your past addiction. To avoid ever living such a miserable existence - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!



9:02 PM - Apr 16, 2001#2

I saw a couple of posts last week that this one addresses. A person who was afraid they had cancer but went to the doctor to find out that it wasn't, and another who is worried about it and hasn't been checked out. While they are both not smoking, I will assure you one is a lot more worried than the other. Symptoms of problems going beyond the first few days should not be ignored or written off to withdrawal. Last week I had two cases of this issue. One from a recent clinic graduate who when I called on a routine follow-up was complaining of breathing problems and other symptoms weeks into her quit. I told her to stop assuming not smoking, call her doctor now. The next day she was in the hospital. She was in for a week. She is doing much better now. Not getting checked out could have resulted in a very different outcome.

I also found out one of my graduates for 6 months ago was diagnosed with emphysema. He was quite ill when in the clinic. He has been much better since he quit on a number of fronts. I think he was surprised by the diagnosis, since he basically feels better now than when he was a smoker. But the fact is he had the disease back then and just wasn't diagnosed yet. By getting checked out they can finally give medications to try to help his breathing. Also, by getting a diagnosis it makes not smoking be even more important to him than it was before.

Again, when symptoms persist, get checked out. You will benefit from either finding out you are okay and get peace of mind or be able to get treated for something that might be causing you unneeded suffering or even be putting your health and life at unnecessary high risk. Either way, if you are disease free or not, you enhance your chance of getting well and staying well by always remembering to never take another puff!


Marty Gold

1:00 AM - Apr 17, 2001#3

You fooled me with the headline, Joel

I thought it was going to be a different story as follows (and this is true). Someone I knew was in the first week of her quit, and was telling me how difficult it was, how she was struggling, how she was thinking of giving up. "I wish they'd tell me I had lung cancer" she said "and then I could just as well go back to smoking". What she had actually said took some time to register with me - and then when it clicked it frightened the pants off me.

That was one of those little incidents that helped me decide to quit (two months later). The friend in question is smoking again.

Heike silver

5:46 AM - Apr 17, 2001#4

These same thoughts actually came out of my own brain (or the part that wasn't out to lunch at the time), when I had a routine medical including a lung x-ray March 14th. Although this was routine, I also had quite some discomfort in my back/ lungs at the ame time. This was before my quit. I did not get the results until 10 days ago or so, and two really sick thoughts entered my head in the meantime: "At least if I have cancer I might as well carry on smoking" & "If it's not cancer I might as well smoke for another while".

Fortunately the part of my brain that was still concerned with logic and not just my addiction woke up and recognized the contradiction. So I wanted to smoke whether I was healthy or sick....

I NEVER want to be that sick (of mind) again. And then I worry I might be depressed now..... That wasn't exactly healthy and cheerful then, was it?


John Gold

9:35 PM - May 09, 2001#5

I'll bet that most of us long term smokers were very close to similar thinking from time to time. You may not believe this but on May 13, 1999, the day that I stumbled across online support, my mindset was that of a smoker who had fought and failed so many times that I had promised myself to never ever try to quit again. In my mind I really had accepted the fact that I would never quit and that smoking will continue to cripple me until it took my life. In my mind I had prepared myself for cancer.

John Gold

10:01 PM - Nov 24, 2001#6

Slow deep breaths into the deep reaches of each lung! Empty your mind of needless thoughts and constant chatter. More slow deep breaths. Relax, take a break! Have a tall glass of ice cold water! There are only two possible choices. Continue this temporary adjustment period - called quitting - until total comfort arrives, or, throw it away and pray that the decay isn't crippling, the stink remains bearable, the price payable, and the addict stays fed and comfortable.

How long has it been since you've spent quality time with the real you? What was that person like? Are they calm, cool and collect days after day, week after week, and month after month? How do they smell? What color are their teeth? Are almost all of of their close friends addicted to nicotine? Do they hang around near the entrance to buildings during the dead of winter? Do they like long movies, drives and stay at the dinner table for hours chatting with friends? What was it like to really relax? Is that person still out there? You bet!

Lilac Bronze

6:35 PM - Sep 12, 2002#7

The sentiments in this post are so familiar to me and so akin to my own prevcious thinking that they don't even sound bizarre to me. I would never have admitted out loud that I would accept pain and death rather than give up cigarettes and maybe if the chips were down I would hve changed my mind. I know that through the years I heard too many times, 'SHE will never stop smoking. SHE is one of those people who can't". And ,boy, did I ever happily agree. Vindicated . "See, everyone agrees I can't quit."


12:14 PM - Sep 13, 2002#8

I laughed when I read this (although it wasn't really funny)...

When my mother visited last week, we were talking about my quit, and her unsuccessful attempts. At one point, she said, "I want to quit until I'm 80, and then start smoking again." I think it was that comment that helped me understand why my parents have relapsed so many times.

There is actually a plan for relapse involved in that quit... the exact date is there. So, if she "slips" now, what's the difference, really? She's PLANNING to "slip" in slightly over 20 years anyway.

It made me sad, but all I can do is keep encouraging my parents with my own quit, steering them to this site, and hoping they find the resolve. In the meantime, I've got my quit, and a long healthy life ahead of me. And I feel really good about that.


1w 5d 22:14 smoke-free, 257 cigs not smoked, $96.38 saved, 21:25 life saved

John Gold

4:27 AM - Aug 12, 2003#9

Lung cancer rare before cigarettes

Mon, 11 Aug 2003
VANCOUVER - Pressuring legislators to place further restrictions on tobacco advertising and smoking in public places is the best way to reduce rates of lung cancer, doctors say.
Lung cancer causes more deaths than the next three cancers combined. In men, 90 per cent of lung cancers are linked to tobacco use. In women, the figure is 85 per cent.
A mock-up label
More than 3,000 lung cancer specialists are meeting in Vancouver this week for the 10th World Conference on Lung Cancer.
Dr. Nevin Murray of the B.C. Cancer Agency in Vancouver chairs this year's conference. He said without smoking, lung cancer would be a relatively minor issue.
"Think back to the turn of the century and the early 1900s," said Murray. "Lung cancer was actually a very uncommon problem. In fact, there would be medical reports written about a case of lung cancer, it being so rare."
He applauds legislators for applying bans on tobacco advertising and smoking in public areas. Murray believes the bans are the only way to fight lung cancer because researchers are a long way from finding a cure.
"Cigarette cancers are just so difficult biologically, so resistant to treatments and so virulent with respect to the capacity to spread that we've had to be satisfied with gains that are important, but perhaps not as large as we would like."
Copyright © CBC 2003


9:18 PM - Oct 23, 2003#10

So what if a person is found out to have cancer? Would relapsing then really make sense?

Smokers With Breast Cancer Twice as Likely to Die than Non-Smokers, According to Study

10/20/03 9:28:00 AM[/size][/size]

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- For women undergoing treatment for early breast cancer, those who smoke are more than twice as likely to die than non-smokers or those who quit, according to a new study presented in Salt Lake City today at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.[/size]

The study, the first to examine the effect of smoking on long-term outcomes of breast cancer patients treated with conservative surgery and radiation, finds that women who continue to smoke during therapy are 2.5 times more likely to die from the cancer than are women with no smoking history. But if women stop smoking before treatment, their risks of dying are the same as women who never smoked.[/size]

"While smoking is a putative risk factor for developing breast cancer, its impact on treatment results has been uncertain," said lead author Khanh H. Nguyen, M.D., a radiation oncologist at Philadelphia's Fox Chase Cancer Center.[/size]

"Our findings suggest that women undergoing breast cancer therapy should consider smoking cessation to improve their chance of survival. Physicians and support staff should encourage and assist patients in this challenging ordeal."[/size]

The study examined 1,039 non-smokers and 861 smokers from March 1970 to December 2002 who underwent conservation therapy for breast cancer. The median follow-up of the patients was 65 months. Local control, distant metastases, deaths from breast cancer and overall survival were compared. Univariate analysis was performed comparing outcomes of "any smokers," "current smokers" and "non-smokers."[/size]

"Even after we adjusted for different prognostic factors, those who continued to smoke during treatment did not live as long as those who had stopped," said Dr. Nguyen. "Our study suggests that smoking cessation remains an integral component in the comprehensive management of breast cancer."[/size]

From http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelea ... 8-10202003[/size]

John Gold

6:07 PM - Jun 25, 2004#11

Many Lung Cancer Patients
Feel Stigmatized
Even Non-Smokers Feel Blame, Guilt
Article date: 2004/06/23 - American Cancer Society
People with lung cancer often feel ashamed and guilty about their illness, British researchers report in a study published in the online edition of BMJ, the British Medical Journal. They interviewed 45 lung cancer patients between the ages of 40 and 90.
Most of the patients felt others were holding them responsible for getting sick because of the link between lung cancer and smoking. About 87% of lung cancer cases are attributable to smoking.

"People automatically think you've brought it on yourself," said one study participant. "People think you're dirty because you smoked."

But even lung cancer patients who never smoked, or who quit decades before, felt this stigma, the researchers from the University of Oxford reported.

The negative feelings caused some patients to conceal their illness, hampering their ability to get support from other people. Others in the study worried about being denied care because of the perception they'd caused their own illness.

Less Sympathy for Lung Cancer
Such findings are not surprising, said Jimmie Holland, MD, professor and vice chair of psychiatry at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Holland was not involved in the current study but has worked with lung cancer support groups for years.

While many cancer patients feel isolated and ashamed after their diagnosis, she said, those feelings are stronger among people with lung cancer. "It hasn't generated the kind of sympathy it does when people have breast cancer," Holland said. "It is a special stigma. The whole thing has been tainted by smoking."

That taint stems in part from a lack of understanding about addiction, Holland said. Many people assume that with enough willpower, a smoker could give up tobacco. Families and friends of smokers with lung cancer may well get angry at the person for not being able to quit. But the high relapse rate among would-be quitters speaks to the difficulty of overcoming tobacco addiction.

Even doctors are not immune to such exasperation, Holland said. "Doctors like to treat people who cooperate and get better," she said.

Quitting Always Helpful
Some patients in the study -- especially those who were non-smokers -- expressed anger and dismay at the frequency with which they were asked about smoking, by both doctors and other people. Many of the smokers in the study began smoking -- and got addicted -- at a time when smoking was fashionable and its dangers not widely known. Being questioned about the habit increased their feelings of guilt.

Doctors do need to ask lung cancer patients about smoking, but they "shouldn't convey an attitude of disapproval or disgust," Holland said.

"Blaming people isn't helpful for them in coping," she noted. "This is a problem that has to be treated with a certain level of respect and understanding."

Doctors should make an effort to help all their smoking patients quit, Holland said, even if the patient already has lung cancer. Quitting can improve a patient's response to treatment and lower the chances of developing a second cancer.

"I think it makes sense to be reassuring that, even if they smoked, it's important not to smoke more," Holland said. "Help them find the resources they need to quit."

Lung cancer patients who are having trouble coping with negative feelings may find comfort in talking with others with their disease, whether one on one or in support groups, Holland said.
Copyright 2004 © American Cancer Society, Inc.
Last edited by John Gold on 10:31 PM - Mar 26, 2009, edited 1 time in total.