Thursday, February 7, 2013

Avoidable Death

Two weeks ago, a dear friend of mine died of cancer. He had smoked cigarettes for over a decade, and by the time he realized there was a problem, he had stage 4 throat cancer. Stage 4 if the highest stage and he went through chemotherapy and radiation to destroy the cancer. They got it all. He quit smoking, cut his drinking back a lot, and focused on what mattered most to him - his business, his friends, and living healthy. The treatment, including biopsies of his throat, caused him to lose his hair, feel miserable, have difficulty swallowing, lose interest in the taste of food, and lose more weight than he could afford to on his frame.

About a year after all his treatments, it was discovered that the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and brain. I'm told his last weeks were miserable and he raged against life itself in an effort to make peace with his situation. He was in hospice for a few days and died quickly, as was expected. He was in his early 40s.

This man was in my life for nearly a decade. He walked my mother down the aisle at my wedding. He came and talked with my husband and me after his marriage started to fall apart. He told us of his dreams to open his own barber shop and how, without needing to support anyone else, he could finally chase his dream, and he made that dream a reality.

He was, and I shall remember him as being, full of life: dancing, singing off key songs about his daily activities like "I'm cooking eggs," smiling, working the trebuchet at the Renn Faire, playing midnight bocce ball in the back yard, and having intense conversations about life and love and the meaning of it all. This is who he will always be to me. I loved him and I love him still. He was my friend and I was honored to be his and to share even a little bit of his life, and have him share in mine.

He died the day before my anniversary. It is our tradition to watch our wedding video on our anniversary each year. This year, we were with friends who were also there, and who also loved him. We watched the video together, saw him being silly and funny and loving and...just being himself. I cried. We all had a moment. We said, "That's who he was, who he is," and we toasted him.

I don't talk a lot about myself in this blog. I don't tell clients personal things very often because I generally feel there's no place for that, but this story, I felt needed to be heard.

I want to tell this story because this early death was completely preventable. Had he not chosen to smoke cigarettes, he'd still be in my life and I in his. Us friends, and his mother, we'd have no sense of missing him, because it could have been avoided. I implore you: DON'T SMOKE. If you smoke, quit by any means. I don't mind if you use my services, the patch, cold turkey, or any way you choose, but take this message to heart. Don't smoke. Don't let anyone else smoke. Tell someone you care about that you don't want to lose them, to sob, to miss them, that you value them too much to sit by and watch them put themselves in harm's way, and for what?

In honor of my friend, I'm running a discount on smoking cessation. $400 for 5 hours, which includes the intake session and phone consultation. Please, for the love of those around you, if not for yourself and all the amazing things you've yet to do, call me to discuss this. Details are listed in This Blog, as is the image of the signed frame we made for my friend, which was set next to his ashes at his sending off.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist at Clear Mind Group in Weston and Whole Health Psychological Center West Palm Beach. Please call for a free consultation: 954-612-9553.

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