My debonair partner Paul and I were engaged only one month when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The doctor bluntly stated that years of smoking (and drinking, which has a synergistic effect) were the cause.
With a 15-year-old daughter, Regan, Paul bravely endured every treatment available. He suffered through radiation in a head mask bolted to the table, chemotherapy with nonstop nausea and hair loss, weeks in an ICU when his stomach-feeding tube failed, and Tarceva after the cancer spread to his lungs.
Through it all, he kept his wonderful sense of humor and loving personality. He spent every minute he could with his daughter and me, traveling to visit relatives one last time. He cried near the end, when he knew for certain that he would not live long enough to see his daughter grow up, nor be able to help guide and support her through her teens. And at 10 months post-diagnosis, he died (not peacefully) at our home.
I’d seen other family members quit smoking (such as my Mom, after 30 years of a pack a day) so I knew it was possible. To save other families and especially children from this tragic outcome, I help individuals quit smoking and advocate for tobacco control policies in California, using social media, our new YouTube channel, cessation groups, presentations, and eBlasts. As our volunteer coalition Smoke-Free Marin says, “Every life is precious to someone.”