Opinion

Quit Smoking Now

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Posted: Feb 04, 2020 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Quit Smoking Now

Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

It’s always a good time, but it’s never the “right time” to quit when you’re a smoker. You can always find a “reason” to keep doing it – “I still have a few left in this pack,” “I have a stressful week coming up,” etc. But the news of Rush Limbaugh’s diagnosis with advance lung cancer is as good a time as any to quit. If you smoke, call it a day. If you know someone who does, get on their case. It’s a cliché, but it’s also true: never quit quitting.

Limbaugh’s shocking announcement Monday left fans stunned, wondering how to react to the announcement that a man who’s been a part of their daily lives since the late 80s is engaged in a fight for his life. When I heard the news it seemed unreal, a kind of sick Internet joke. Rush, after all, was known for referring to his “formerly nicotine-stained fingers,” referencing the fact that he quit smoking decades ago.

Quitting smoking is no guarantee of anything. The effects of cigarettes linger long after the smell is washed away. But the damage those cancer sticks have done can’t start to be reversed unless and until you’re rid of them forever.

While Rush quit cigarettes long ago, he was famous for being a cigar aficionado. But tobacco is tobacco; inhaling smoke in any form, even the small amounts cigar smokers who “don’t inhale” are inhaling is still inhaling smoke.  It’s better just to walk away from all of it.

I know a little of what Rush is going through. Last year, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. We got lucky, if you can call it that. My father had pneumonia and ended up in the hospital because of it. While treating him for that, they noticed something on a chest x-ray they otherwise wouldn’t have done. They biopsied it and it was cancer. Thankfully, it was very early.

My dad wasn’t really forthcoming about the diagnosis, he never has been. When Rush made his announcement Monday he said, “I wish I didn’t have to tell you this, and I thought about not telling anybody. I thought about trying to do this without anybody knowing, ’cause I don’t like making things about me.” That’s how my dad is about such things. You have to ask, you have to pry. He’ll tell you, but he won’t volunteer anything. Maybe it’s that generation.

When my mom died in 2017, my dad was obviously very depressed. But he never let on. He’d talk about it, when asked, but after 57 years of marriage, there simply isn’t any way for me and my siblings to relate, even with our own sadness. The thought of losing him too was too much.

My siblings and I conspired, plotted, researched, prepared for every possible treatment option to help dad fight. But he wanted none of it. He’s lost friends, and his father and mother, to cancer: mother, after a long, painful battle with bone cancer, and father to lung cancer in his 80s. He’s seen chemotherapy and its ravages of the body; he would have no part of it.

My dad would only do radiation, otherwise, he wasn’t interested. He’d quit smoking long ago, but the consequences had caught up with him. He’s 10 years older than Rush, and has lived a great life. If my mother hadn’t been lost to an infection after heart surgery, there’s no doubt he would’ve done anything. But she was, so he was content with his decision.

Thankfully, the radiation has worked, at least so far. Like I said, they caught it early. Doctors still recommend surgery, he won’t do it. It’s been in check for a while now, and every single day we’re blessed to still have him with us. My dad is the bravest, hardest working, smartest man I’ve been lucky enough to know, and I know my mom is watching over him, waiting for him. But I also know she’s content to wait, as long as possible. They are the only people either of them were ever in love with. What're a few more years in the context of eternity? Plus, I hear my mother in his words sometimes, which means she’s feeding him her thoughts even now. And I know she loves that.

Rush doesn’t have any children, but what he lacks in offspring he makes up for with other family and millions of fans. His brother David is a good and strong man of faith who I’ve been lucky enough to get to know and can safely say he’s worth at least three kids in situations like this. And Rush is willing to do whatever is necessary, which will help.

Add to that the millions of fans pulling for him, and no prognosis is absolute.

If you were like I was and started smoking as a kid because there’s nothing dumber than a teenager, quit. You feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof when you’re young. You realize you aren’t when you grow up. Quitting is no guarantee of avoiding a horrible diagnosis or good health, but continuing is simply stupid. If you love someone, or even ever hope to, quit. Your body can’t start getting better until you stop making it worse.

Derek Hunter is the host of a free daily podcast (subscribe!), host of a daily radio show on WCBM in Maryland, and author of the book, Outrage, INC., which exposes how liberals use fear and hatred to manipulate the masses. Follow him on Twitter at @DerekAHunter.