Cancer – it’s one of the few words that can induce an instant feeling of terror. The ever-increasing number of diagnoses made with every passing year has secured its position as a scourge of contemporary civilisation. On a daily basis we come across new information about possible causes, preventative foods, and the studies and research conducted in hopes of finding a cure.
For the average person, it conjures up images of hospitals, painful medical tests, and expensive treatments. But for someone living through those things, such thoughts fail in comparison to the nightmare they experience in the battle for survival.
It is a disease that knows neither prejudice nor bias, and affects people across the globe regardless of age, race, nationality, or socio-economic class. While medical science has yet to determine the definitive cause for its occurrence in human physiology, a plethora of theories have taken into account the environment, diet, and even genetic pre-disposition. With that being said, one thing is known for certain – its suffering goes beyond the individual and includes those closest to them. Friends and family bare their own pain, being powerless as they watch their loved ones endure such a terrible ordeal.
I’m sure that anyone reading this can think of at least five people close to them who are, or have struggled with Cancer. With that in mind, I often wonder why people are still making the conscious decision to pick up the habit of smoking. I describe it as a ‘conscious decision’ because I am unaware of anyone ever having a lit cigarette accidentally finding its way into their mouth. For life-long smokers in their 60’s, if you’ve lasted this long chances are you’re not going to stop. But for the millennials out there, those with full lives ahead of them, if you’re a smoker then you are taking an unnecessary risk.
Despite the evidence strongly suggesting a correlation between cigarette smoke and Cancer, the allure of being ‘cool’ and ‘rebellious’ is still doing a fine job at recruiting new customers. The days of the ‘Malboro Man’ and ‘Joe Camel’ caricatures may be long gone, but mainstream media and pop culture have stepped in to continue peddling the poisonous product. I often cite the example of HBO’s popular sitcom ‘Sex and the City’ (not that I’ve ever watched it of course *lies*). What example does such an influential show set when the lead character, a fashionista who’s living the life in the Big Apple, is a chain smoker? And worse yet, the question of whether she should ‘kick the stick’ wasn’t raised until more than halfway through the series! Clearly its effect on her health didn’t make for good story-telling.
The success of state and privately funded anti-smoking campaigns is debatable. For anyone seeking a dose of reality, I recommend you visit a chemo ward at a local hospital. You’ll find what goes on at either place to be a distressing sight. And if you’re not willing to travel that far, just spend a couple of hours chatting with one of those five persons you thought of earlier. Look into their eyes and really listen to their words.
I’m writing this in light (no pun intended) of my last post. While I discussed the legalisation of marijuana, I didn’t want that to be interpreted as encouraging smoking. Usually, I promote moderation in all things. Smoking marijuana might have some benefits… but there are none in smoking cigarettes.