Why I Hate Smoking – An Oncologist’s Rant

Not seen what I have seen. Not been where I have been. Not stood where I have stood. Not felt what I have felt. For 35 years, watched the grim harvest reaped by tobacco. Kept a firm upper lip. Urged friends, family, patients to stop. To no avail…the devastation continues. Fed up. Laid low. Bent, not broken. Today I report. This is my anger, my fury, my curse of all this unneeded suffering. Why do I hate smoking? Let me rant the ways.

Fear on a man’s face when told the mass is cancer. Hopeless loss in wife’s eyes. Wrinkles on young girls’ skin from tars taint. Scarlet on the floor as growth buries deeply into tissue. Seizures of cancer spread to brain and befuddled look trying to understand while mind rots. Pain. Always pain. Repeated chest thrusts and needles stabbed in, does not treat decades of smoke corroded arteries. Triple bypass fails as cigarette clots vessel. Glut of paperwork to pump air to diseased lung with oxygen, tanks, pumps, concentrators, nebulizers, monitors, humidifiers, power supplies, bronchodilators. Burst fresh surgical wound as smoke stops healing. Endless debate about surgery and radiation and chemotherapy choice, when all is truly lost. Vomiting, hair loss, fever, fatigue of chemotherapy to scrape out short months gasping-wasting-fading life. One-way conversations with speechless made silent by stroke. Feet wilt starved for blood. Massive profits of big and little tobacco spreading poison gas across the planet. Families spend their every penny fighting disease. Loss of minds and souls and bodies…. great wisdom burned in smoke forever. Paradox of morphine treating ravages of inhaled drug addiction. Billions of dollars to treat disease caused by billions on useless habit. Clots coughed into black towels not to offend the not yet dying. Pharmacies that dispense rolled toxin. Tan skin, sharp cloths, fine mind, brown teeth, foul breath. Breathless grandpa playing catch with five-year-old grandboy. Palliative bedsides as final breaths sputter out in death rattles, brown sputum, and tears. Signature on smoker final certificates each day… sanctifies guilty harvest buried or burned to ash. Vacant mommy, daddy, son, daughter chair at emptied dinner table.

I rant for all the vital people I have seen blow away. I miss them so. I stand in testimony and witness at head of rows of silent stone…. I despise all this unneeded death. I hate smoking.


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