This is the story of Randy as told by KillTheCan.org forum member Kylos. It is being retold / archived here to once again prove that tobacco and nicotine are playing for keeps…
So as I sit here two weeks past my second floor I am studying the irony of the faithful day in November that I quit…..I was driving my car and had just finished my last dip of Copenhagen. I looked over at my buddy Randy who was smoking away at his hand rolled Drum cigs like he always was….I told him I was not going to buy another can of dip. He looked at me like I was some sort of crazy lunatic ready to punch his mother. After he wiped that look off his face he chuckled and asked me why…I looked over and mumbled that I was sick of the shit and I knew deep down it would kill me, and I was ready to quit and if he wanted to live a full life he should too. He smirked and remarked on how long this would last, and he had never seen me without a dip in my face. He rolled another smoke and said “good luck with that”.
Now over seven months later I am still quit and enjoying my freedom. Randy has not quit….he developed pain in his mouth about five months ago and had a tooth extracted. The pain did not stop with the pulling of the tooth…it increased. He visited the dentist several times and was finally referred to an oral surgeon. That oral surgeon told him that he may have cancer. That “may” have cancer has turned into stage four cancer of the tongue, jaw and throat…including a silver dollar sized tumor on his jaw and it has spread to several lymph nodes. On Friday he will have three inches of his jaw removed and most of his tongue….then radiation and chemo.
I quit, he did not. I gained freedom and he was given a 26% chance of living five years. I was given a new lease on life and he was given disfigurement and a possible death sentence. Stay quit…..it is life or death and that is the undeniable truth.
July 2, 2011
Just a quick update….Randy’s surgery was delayed for a week because he is battling a fever of unknown origin…..his wife told me that his weight has dropped to 126lbs and eating solid food is almost impossible…..sad shit…
July 4, 2011
I spoke with Randy and his wife and they are in the process of setting up a fund for Randy at his wife’s credit union…I will let you know as soon as I have information..thanks for your kindness…just to let you know Randy is a painter by trade with little money and no insurance as he has been unable to work. What is most unsettling is the amount of pain this guy is in….he is taking heavy duty narcotics and he is still in unbearable pain, and the worse part is that the pain is only going to get worse with all the surgery. A painful drawn out torture is what tobacco induced cancer gives you, before it takes your life. Stay quit.
August 18, 2011
Well I wanted to give an update on Randy….after many delays he finally had a 12 hour surgery today to remove as much cancer from his jaw, tongue and throat as they could…they then dissected the lymph nodes on the left side of his neck that were found to be cancerous. Then to cover the defect left from the removal of the soft pallet and jaw they used a portion of his pectoris (chest) muscle. He will now spend the next week in ICU as he is on a vent to breath and has a feeding tube inserted for at least a month. As soon as he is able they will start radiation and chemo to try and kill this aggressive form of squamous cell carcinoma. That’s a lot of suffering for being an addict to a poison plant. Stay quit.
September 1, 2011
So I am updating…Randy has been discharged to home care and I just got back from visiting him at home…..looking at him he could have been Rick Bender http://www.nosnuff.com/bio.html or Gruen von Behrens http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ns5FrRUaHT0 or Sean Marsee http://oralcancerfoundation.org/people/sean_marsee.htm. His face and neck were a swollen mess and where his peck should be one side is now flat and mangled. One thing I noticed that was truly different about him was his attitude…..receiving all your nourishment through a tube directly into your stomach has a way of changing you I suppose. I asked him if he was quit from tobacco….he told me that tobacco is a loaded gun and he had pulled the trigger one to many times and his will to live had overcome his desire to kill himself with Nicotiana tabacum. He now wants to go on a one man anti-tobacco crusade to anyone who wants to listen (especially children) about what tobacco will do for and to you. But first he must endure 31 days of radiation treatment and pack some weight on his 115lbs body. Stay quit, it is life or death.
September 22, 2011
Quick update on Randy……his post surgery progress is improving…..he is able to eat small amounts of soft foods orally and drink some liquids. Most of his nutrition is still done by feeding tube directly to his stomach. One of the harder things is living without a pectoral muscle on his left side and having to hold his head straight and upright with mangled neck muscles so his trach hole will heal properly. His weight has climbed to 135lbs so he will ready to do radiation treatments next week, but first he must have several of his teeth pulled before they BBQ where his jaw was. He will lose the ability to taste and make saliva…possibly permanently. Even after all he has gone through he still craves tobacco……think about that…. Stay quit….it is life or death.
October 22, 2011
So I stopped by and saw Randy today. He is halfway through his daily radiation treatments. His face is still a swollen mess and now you can see the telltale signs of radiation burns on the side of his face and neck where the beam of radiation is concentrated on the spot where his jaw and tongue used to be. He can no longer make saliva because of the radiation and his taste buds are quickly being destroyed. He describes the treatment as being BBQ-ed over the course of weeks with the discomfort building slowly into an all out pain fest that 30mg of morphine hardly touches. Compound that with still being fed through a tube to his stomach until late December and I can see that this guy is being tortured to his limit. I thank God every day I am quit. Stay quit it is life and death.
November 27, 2011
I wanted to use today(my one year quit anniversary)to update on Randy. He is done with radiation and has come through the experience pretty well. He is still rather weak from the treatments but his weight is holding and he is in good spirits. Now comes the hard part…the waiting….the constant vigilance for signs that the cancer will return….the patience to see if he will be in the 26% that survive for the five years plus after stage four oral cancer. The most important part of that wait is that he is QUIT….for as the doctors have told him any return to tobacco is certain death and he has heeded their warning. I am so thankful to be quit….it is life or death.
February 22, 2012
It has been a long time since I gave an update on Randy. I talked with him tonight for the first time in a few weeks and I was given the news that his cancer is back. Was I shocked…no…surprised?….no…I would say saddened would describe my feelings. His cancer has returned on the side of his jaw that was not removed. I think he knows his time is limited now. He is going back for more surgery, radiation and chemo. I want to give him hope but he knows all to well that odds are that he is a dead man. Tobacco does not care….it wants your life. It can’t have mine….I’m quit. Stay quit it’s life or death.
March 6, 2012
So an update….Randy had 23 cancerous lymph nodes removed and what’s left of his jaw shaved down in one of the areas where a cancerous node was touching the jaw bone…..now 30 days of radiation and several rounds of chemo It’s looking pretty bad……stay quit it’s life or death.
April 17, 2012
Imagine having so much of your face cut out that you have only chemotherapy to kill the cancer that is eating your flesh and bone. You are unable to lie supine because neck muscles have been dissected and your nerves cut so badly that your airway becomes compromised. Unable to be fitted for a radiation blocking mask until healing allows. Only to have the other side of your face irradiated this time in hopes of buring enough of you to kill the malignancy. As the cancer rages rampant. This is what tobacco leaves as it’s legacy. Stay quit it’s life or death.
June 22, 2012
Been awhile since I gave an update on Randy. He finished his 28 radiation treatments two weeks ago, and this is four less treatments than the first round, but the radiation was increased for the second round. He also finished his 2 months of chemo to help increase the effectiveness of the radiation. One side effect of the radiation is that he can only open his mouth about 1 inch and must stack tongue depressors and stretch his mouth so that one day he can eat solid food again. He is optimistic that he is cured and in good spirits considering the circumstances and he is tobacco free. Stay quit….it’s life of death.
July 21, 2012
I just got word that Randy is in the hospital. He started hemorrhaging out of his mouth and lungs yesterday. This tobacco induced cancer has metastasized and seems immune to radiation and chemo. I played 9 holes of golf with Randy just two weeks ago. Tobacco is poison of the highest degree…….stay quit it’s life or death.
July 24, 2012
Quick update. Randy had surgery to stem bleeding from problem areas of his lung….they stopped the bleeding and he has stabilized for now….he’s tough as shit. Stay quit it’s life or death.
August 18, 2012
Definition of CANCERIZATION
: transformation into cancer or from a normal to a cancerous state. Tobacco causes this…….many times this is irreversible……this is sadly the case with Randy. His cancer has returned and it is inoperable. Hospice is an invaluable gift at times like this, facing a finite time with dignity and comfort is their goal. I hope he will be up for some golf along his journey. Stay quit it’s life or death.
January 2, 2013
Randy died last night. His suffering has passed and he is at peace with God. I hope and I know Randy hoped, that people would take this story as motivation to remain tobacco free and strengthen their quit. I would like to thank anyone who has posted thoughts or prayers for Randy, I know they meant a lot to him during his fight against cancer.