The best health advice I have ever received is to never start smoking, and after seeing what has happened to my uncle, I never will. Twenty years ago, my uncle was diagnosed with throat cancer. He took radiation, and his doctor told him that he would be dead in five years if he didn't stop smoking. My uncle just couldn't seem to quit, he was too addicted. So he continued to smoke, and after five years, the cancer hadn't returned. He felt he was very lucky and consequently put the cancer out of his mind.
About a year and a half ago, he was again diagnosed with cancer. This time he had laryngeal cancer, or cancer in his larynx, and it was exponentially more serious, and more difficult to deal with. He chose to get the operation, a Lyrngectomy, instead of trying chemotherapy or radiation. In this procedure, the doctor would remove his larynx, and he would have a metal voicebox, or a electrolarynx, put in. He would no longer have his own voice, but a metallic one coming from the large hole in is throat with the help the electrolarynx and speaker.
After the surgery, we found out he also needed radiation. So not only was he breathing out of a hole in his throat, but he was nautious, tired, and had no appetite, causing him to become very gaunt. For the first few months after the surgery, he coughed up blood all of the time, and had to clean out the hole in his throat with a Q-tip frequently. One of the worst parts was that for the first few months, no one could understand him when he spoke. He wasn't used to the electrolarynx, and couldn't articulate well enough, so the sounds that came out were a mangled and a garbled mess. He would have to write down everything that he said so that we could understand him, and get him what he needed.
My uncle still coughs up blood frequently, and he still has a hard time dealing with his reality, a year and a half later. This major life change has caused him to become depressed, and as a result, he can't get better. He's convinced that he's dying when even his doctor says he's improving, and some days he doesn't even get out of bed. There have been many times when he's had a cold and had to go to the hospital because he can't breathe. The hole that serves as his airway gets clogged with phlegm and food particles, effectively strangling him. This contributes to the feeling that he's dying, and he only gets more depressed. He's isolated himself from the outside world, cutting off all old friends he once had, and since he's not well, he can't get a job. My 57 year old uncle can't support himself anymore, and is now living back at home with his 87 year old parents. Yet even after all this, he can't stop smoking. He still smokes, even though now he has no voicebox, no friends, no job, no money, and is living back at home. He is the reason why the best health advice by far that I have ever received, is to never start smoking. I've seen it take everything away from someone I love, yet he still can't quit. The rest of us are left powerlessly watching as smoking destroys what little he has left.
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