I intentionally waited until March 25th to write my HOF speech because today is a special day in my life. I’ll get into that in a minute, but I want to share my introduction to tobacco as a teenager. I grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania which even in the late 70’s/early 80’s was already a burned-out steel town. The only thing to do as a teenager was to party and dip. I remember that I wanted to dip so bad to be able to fit in that I proudly went through that nicotine rush-puke phase of self-initiation. The nic bitch had firmly planted her hooks into my life. Fast forwarding ahead, didn’t care what anybody thought about my dipping. I only began to care when I hit my 30’s and started to see what tobacco was doing to my gums and teeth. The thought of oral cancer really started eating at my brain, but that nic bitch already had a plan and planted a million excuses in my head why not to go to the dentist. I attempted several quits as the years continued on feeling pressure from loved ones. The quits always ended the same with a little ninja dipping (just one here and there – a reward the nic bitch justified in my head for being quit for the past few days.) That always led back to full-time dipping which I would always lie and claim that at least I wasn’t dipping as much as I was before!
On February 2nd, 2011, I was diagnosed with stage 2 prostate cancer at 43 years old. I was devastated at the sound of the big ‘C’ word. The Oncologist said that I was the youngest patient that had ever walked through his doors in 25 years of practice. I never thought in a million years that this was the type of cancer I would get. While I received support from loved ones, I also received support from the biggest bitch in my life…the nic bitch. She told me that everything would be fine and comforted me with nicotine. My coping mechanism that had supported me in every moment of my life since I was fifteen years old…good times, bad times, sports, hunting, fishing, marriages, divorces, children, more children, deaths of friends and loved ones…that bitch was loyal and would never leave my side.
On March 25th, 2011, I submitted to a prostatectomy via the da Vinci robotic surgical procedure by a skilled and renowned Dr Lee at Penn Presbyterian hospital in Philadelphia. I was cancer free! The nic bitch whispered in my ear that now I didn’t have to worry about cancer anymore…I could dip carefree! I knew deep down that it was a lie, but it was a comforting lie that kept me going for a few more years.
The end was the beginning of December 2019. After approximately of 37 years of dipping, I felt a burning in my mouth that didn’t go away. I felt it across my tongue and gums. I had seen an ENT Doctor a year prior and received a clean bill of health which of course gave me the green light to keep dipping. I prayed for God to help me get away from that nic bitch…I didn’t want another diagnosis of cancer. I was surfing the net and came across KTC unexpectedly. It was like my prayers were answered. I was taken in by the brotherhood and instantly got to see that failure was not taken lightly. That was the guidance that I needed to succeed.
I feel the nic bitch’s vengeance every time a new ‘first’ happens…first time doing yardwork…well the first time doing anything in the past 37 years. I make my promise every morning to be nic free to get me through my day. I have made many friends in the process that I can call in a heartbeat if that promise isn’t enough to get me through.
I know that I am an addict.
I know that it may take a long time to rewire my body and brain to work normally without nicotine.
I know that nicotine had become my daily dose of Prozac that helped me cope with life.
I know that I’ve seen progress and the good days now outnumber the bad days.
I know that I will never cave to that nic bitch ever again ODAAT with KTC and my Mofo’s.
I know that I will no longer be a bitch to nicotine!
Today, I have 112 days of nic free life behind me. Today I am 9 years Cancer free!
My Security net is vast…the list of thanks to all vets and numerous others in many years of quit groups is endless. I enjoy my daily text group and will continue to try to guide newbies. I have made many friends and I thank you all and I hope I gave back to your quit as you gave to mine. Special shout out to TRiddle. The daily dribble gives me strength and keeps me focused on not just the good things, but the little things in life and what is important…that my friend is priceless.