Marlene's Story

Marlene's Story
Marlene's Story

Big tobacco made smoking grown up and glamorous, I fell hook line and sinker...where I am now, in todays world because of it! Big tobacco needs to be!

~I am writing this story about my life as a smoker in hopes it will not only
entertain who ever should read it, but maybe prevent someone from
using tobacco or entice someone to quit using tobacco.

How I started:
~I tried my first cigarette at the age of 11, the preachers son gave it to
me back behind the church, where a lot of us kids went after church
services on Sunday morning. I was a timid girl, bashful, and just wanted
to be included in the group. I did not actually start smoking then, full
time that is, I would sneak here and there with the other kids, but by the
time I was 12, I was hooked! Now that I've analyzed this I realize tobacco
turned me into a sneak, a liar, and a thief, right off the bat...
~First off I'd sneak to catch a "drag" here and there, then I graduated to
stealing cigarettes from anyone who happen to leave a pack laying
around, then when asked about it I lied and said "no, I haven't been
smoking" and "no, I didn't take any cigarettes". I started stealing money
to support my habit, I stold money, or anything I could find so I could
hang out with the kids, and be a part of their group.

Permission to smoke:
~I moved in with my Dad, step mom, and step sister while I was 12, my
step sister who was 10, took me out to the back yard where a old trailer
was sitting, she crawled under it and came out with her cigarette stash,
" stolen pack of Daddy's cigarettes". That's when I really started to
smoke, stealing from my Dad was easy, he never seemed to miss them,
until one day when he caught me red handed! I just knew I was going to
get the beating of my life, my Dad had a bad temper when pushed to his
wits end. He ordered me into the house, where he sat me down at the
dining room table, he made me roll 20 cigarettes from the old roll your
own "strong, stinking tobacco" with the papers, remember those? Does
anyone still use that stuff? Any way when I finished rolling them, he
made me sit there and smoke every one of them, no supper, nothing to
drink, just sit there and smoke. Well even a surprise to me today, I did it,
it took me a few hours, but I did it, you see, I inherited his stubborn
streak. When I finished the last one he said, "well, you proved you can
handle it, so you have my permission to smoke, but if I ever catch your
sister smoking, I'll give you the beating that you thought you were going
to get today". I got up from the table, feeling rather sick, went into the
bedroom and told my sister "if Daddy ever catches you smoking I'll beat
you to death!"

Turmoil and early sickness:
I have since thought of that time and truly wish he would have give me
the beating of my life instead of handling it like he did, but, who knew?
~So, now I have my Dads permission to smoke, I smoked all the time,
and every where (except Grandma's house) forget the beating she
would have Killed me! It ended up over the years, cigarettes caused a
lot of turmoil in my life, it put me in the hospital 3 times that I can
remember, I had severe bronchitis and breathing problems. I had to be
put on breathing machines and breathing medications several times, as
soon as I would get to where I could breath freely again, I would light up
again. Now, is that insane or what?
~This went on for 39 years at which time I was smoking 2+ packs per day,
and still lying about it, the very Doctor that diagnosed me with cancer, I
lied to that man, and said... "No Doctor, I only smoke less than a pack a
day", Lie, Lie, and more lies for 39 miserable years!

The bad news:
~Then in 1996, I developed a sore throat that would not go away, I tried
everything over the counter, cold medicines, lozenges, throat spray's,
nothing worked. So I went to the doctor who put me on one antibiotic
after the other from October until December, sore throat wouldn't go
away, finally he sent me to an Oncologist e.n.t (ear, nose and throat
specialist) who ran a scope down my nose and throat, he seen
something and suggested I go to the Hospital and have a biopsy done.
~I had the biopsy done on Thursday, after it was over the doctor didn't
stay to talk to me, he left instructions for me to go home, rest my voice,
don't talk to anyone, and left a prescription for a rather strong pain
medication and told the nurse to instruct me to be in his office the next
afternoon at 5pm. Well I knew he did not take appointments that late in
the day, I also knew you do not get pain medication like that, with refills
unless something is really wrong, also why can't I use my voice? So, I
pretty well knew the news was going to be bad.
~I went home and waited for 5pm Friday to get there, I didn't talk to
anyone, I just waited, and it seemed like a long time, so the time finally
got there for me to go, then I wanted to run in the opposite direction, I
dreaded that trip to his office so bad, but I went and he said right out,
"you have cancer, and it's the worse kind, it spreads rapidly, I suggest
we operate as soon as possible,I want to perform a complete
laryngectomy on you,there's good news and bad news, the good is I
think I can get it all, the bad is, you will never talk again." I told him I'd
get back with him on what I wanted to do.

It's my decision:
I left his office in a trance. I drove home in a trance, almost wrecked a
couple of times, my only thought was, no, no, no, way are they going to
cut my throat open, and no way are they going to turn me into a freak!
~I got home and called my children and told them what the doctor had
said, I also told them I decided not to have the surgery, they naturally
had a fit and said "yes, you are," I informed them it was my life and my
decision. My oldest Son and his wife drove over from 500 miles away to
talk me into having the surgery, my daughter in law started crying and
said "Mom, I can't believe you don't want to see your future grand
children". Well, I think that's what did it, because after I thought about it,
I couldn't sleep that night for thinking about it, and how selfish I was
thinking only of myself. I knew I was not ready to leave this world
without seeing my grand babies, my greatest wish was to be a grandma.

The Surgery:
I decided to go back and talk to the doctor, the kids went with me and
on Dec. 24, 1996, (Christmas Eve) I had a complete laryngectomy.
~Nice Christmas present wasn't it? When I woke up in intensive care,
the first thing I recall is seeing my youngest son holding my hand with
his head resting on the bed rail, crying so hard he was sobbing, I
naturally opened my mouth to console him and "nothing" came out, I felt
so helpless, bless his heart I wanted so bad to assure him everything
was going to be OK and I couldn't say a word, my voice was gone
That must have been a horrible sight seeing your mother lying there
with her throat cut nearly ear to ear! All because of Tobacco Addiction!

Life at home:
~After I got out of the Hospital, I had home nurses and a speech
therapist come to my home to help me, I didn't know anything at all
about the laryngectomy, I had just had or any thing about being a
Laryngectomee, this was all new stuff to me, the first thing was learn
how to care for myself, the feeding tube, hooked up through my nose,
clean the trachea site (hole in my neck).
One day I was fine, the next I'd cry all day, I was on a miserable roller

Learning to talk again:
~I had a speech therapist that came to my home to teach me how to talk
with a instrument called an electro-larynx, she took it out of the box, put
the battery in it, showed me how to use it and told me to sit in front of a
mirror and practice until I could be understood, as soon as she left, I
took the battery out, packed it back in the box and said to myself,"I'm
not about to use that silly sounding thing to talk with, I wouldn't be
caught dead talking with that thing!" Still suffering in silence, all
because of tobacco addiction!
~We set up a tapping signal on the telephone so I could answer
questions and call for help if I needed to, one tap was "no" two taps
"yes" etc. My daughter and granddaughter called me from a couple of
states away, they would ask questions and talk and I would tap, when we
got ready to hang up I started crying, I tapped 1-2-3 and my daughter
said "I love you too, Mom" I'll never forget how devastated I felt that I
couldn't even tell my kids I love them! All because of Tobacco addiction!
~After I got off the phone, I opened the box, put the battery back in and
started to practice, just as soon as I thought my kids would be able to
understand me, I called them all and told them I love them, and they all
understood me. I still, to this day, hate having to use that silly sounding
thing to talk with, I'd much rather have my old voice back, but it is gone
forever all because of tobacco addiction!

Radiation treatments:
~Then came 33 radiation treatments, as if the cut throat, feeding tubes,
all the medications, and silly sounding speaking devices weren't
enough. Getting through all of the radiation treatments was a real test
of strength for me, more than once I sat in my car after a treatment and
cried before I could put the key in the ignition and start the car, (I
prayed a lot too). But my children, constantly reassured me that I could
make it, and how, I don't know, but I did.

And life goes on:
~I have adjusted for the most part, to my new way of life, I'm on my 4th
year, and have one month to go to reach 5 years, before I can rest that
they did get all the cancer out, every single day I think about it, it never
leaves your mind.

I'm lucky and grateful:
~I am so lucky, because I'm alive, a lot of people, (around 50 per hour)
are dying because of Tobacco addiction.
~Speaking of being lucky, in 1999, we were invited by the American Lung
Association to represent them at the Second Wind Lung Transplant
Convention here in St. Louis, I got around and talked to some of these
people who were in wheel chairs with oxygen tanks strapped to their
backs, tubes running up their noses, they were some of the nicest
people I've ever met, I talked at length about their problems, my
problems, etc. I found out most of these people had smoked, and most
of them had their name on a list waiting for a lung. Well I'm ashamed to
admit up until this point I had felt sorry for myself, I came home from that
convention a much more thankful person and life means so much more
to me now, I'm alive, and my name is not on a list waiting for life! I thank
God every day for my life, and the young people he guides my way to
talk to.
~I am sure "My Own Personal Story" is pretty close if not exactly like
many others before and after me, that's why it is extremely important
that we (you and me) educate as many children as we can about the
dangers and terrible consequences of tobacco.

~If you are a child and you are reading "My Own Personal Story" Please,
Please stop and really think about what you are doing to harm yourself,
before you use a tobacco product, because I really do care about you.
Copyright 1999, Marlene all Rights Reserved ©5146363©

~I always wanted to be the one to give thanks where thanks were due
after a performance or as part of a book, in this case a document. This is
my chance.
~I want to send my deepest gratitude and thanks to each and every one
of my children, with out them, I would not be here now to share this
story with you, with out them, my life would not be worth living, They
inspire me and for that I am sincerely grateful.

~A special thanks to Mr. Robert Mehrman who helped me a great deal
with information for my program, Robert you are the best.
~Thank you every one for taking the time to read my own personal story.
Copyright 1999, Marlene All Rights Reserved ©5146363©


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