Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I’m Really Mad At Your Mother

Sue’s mom, Peggy, died of cancer at age 59. Peggy smoked. She started when she was 17 and developed a two-pack-a-day habit. Filter less – Chesterfields, I think. I have no doubt the cigarettes killed Peggy. I also have no doubt that Peggy’s smoking is a contributing cause of Sue’s cancer.

After Sue and I got married we used to visit her parents. We stayed with them at their house in San Diego. Peggy smoked inside and it always made Sue and me both sick. We’d have headaches and allergies for days after a visit there.

The literature on multiple myeloma that Doc gave us says its cause isn’t yet known, but there are certain groups of people more at risk of getting this type of cancer: Farmers and field workers who’ve been exposed to chemicals; People who’ve been exposed to excessive amounts of radiation; and smokers.

What effect would years of suffering her mother’s toxic second hand smoke have had on Sue as a growing child and young adult? I can’t prove it, but I know this cancer has its roots in Peggy’s smoke. And I’m really mad at her.


  1. Hi George~

    Yes, a valid reaction. I do recall that Sue rightfully came to the point of feeling very belligerent when people would light up a cigarette around her in enclosed spaces.

    I heard a country song recently titled "A Different World" by Bucky Covington

    Here are the words:

    We were born to mothers who smoked and drank
    Our cribs were covered in lead based paint
    No child proof lids no seat belts in cars
    Rode bikes with no helmets and still here we are, still here we are
    We got daddy’s belt when we misbehaved
    Had three TV channels you got up to change
    No video games and no satellite
    All we had were friends and they were outside, playin’ outside

    It was a different life
    When we were boys and girls
    Not just a different time
    It was a different world

    School always started the same every day
    The pledge of allegiance then someone would pray
    Not every kid made the team when they tried
    We got disappointed and that was all right, we turned out all right


    No bottled water, we drank from a garden hose
    And every Sunday, all the stores were closed

    My point in sharing these words is that even though it wasn't that long ago when we were growing up, from some aspects it really was a different world then. People had a fairly strong concept that smoking was bad for them, but they didn't have the full blown knowledge that we do now about how lethal even second hand smoke could be for those around them. Peggy would be heartbroken if she were ever to become aware that she had some, or a lot of, culpability in this.

    It just bites.

    I'm thinking about you tonight and I love you,


  2. George,

    First off, let me disclaim that I cannot relate to what you and Sue are going through, and I do applaud you both for blogging your journeys.

    I remember those car trips taken in my youth to Morro Bay, in a hermetically-sealed Chrysler or Dodge product with two chimneys disguised as my "Mom" and "Dad" in the front seat. I was so relieved to get to our destination and breaking the seal, breathing in millions of cubic feet of fresh ocean air to try and cleanse my underdeveloped lungs. I used to think it was "car-sickness" that made me feel so bad... We hadn't named it "second-hand smoke" yet, but that's what it was.

    I myself soon fell into the "first-hand smoke" trap as a teenager. Life WAS different back then. Kingsburg H.S. had a designated smoking area for students (We didn't have to bring a "note" from home to smoke, and it doesn't appear that minors smoking on school property was all that big of a deal either), where we could have a leisurely smoke during recess, lunch, and bathroom breaks.

    Fortunately, I broke the habit before hitting 19 (thanks to a long-gone girlfriend) and outside of a relatively short fetish with cigars ten or so years ago, I have stayed clean.

    However, I have really come to appreciate "clean" air, especially following my unplanned asthma attack while visiting Fresno a few days ago. In the back of my mind, my past history of first and second-hand smoke, along with 40 years of stagnant Valley air, make me wonder what health affects will follow.

    Yet, I look at my 87 year-old father, who probably smoked for 30+ years and has lived in the Valley air for at least 70 of those years, and am amazed (impressed?) that he has lived so long!

    The one thing that stands out for all of us is that only God knows our time here on this earth, and for the Christian, He has a calling, a testimony, for us to share with our brothers and sisters, and with those who are not Christians. While God is not the micromanager of our lives - we are not "going through the motions He planned a long time ago" - like Job, we are faced with trials. Life happens, and when our own strength, abilities, and understanding are inadequate, sometimes all God wants us to do is to keep our eyes on Him, praise Him, and trust Him.

    God will give both of you the strength to overcome this, and He can be glorified through this, also.

    Again, I cannot speak from first-hand knowledge to what you and Sue are going through, but know that you are constantly in my prayers.

    With Love,