I figured I would say hello finally. My official quit date was sometime at the beginning of November of 2009. It was either the beginning of November, or the End of October, I can't quite remember.
I had smoked off and on for 7 years, a total of maybe 4 altogether. Mostly menthol, as I hated the taste of regular cigs, but loved the cold feeling and the act of smoking, and both together somehow helped me relieve stress. I wouldn't say I was addicted, I just liked it.
The reason I quit...I had not been smoking for roughly 2.5 years. Then stress hit like mad. Someone close to me passed away, took a break from one guy because of the passing of the person, started hanging out with a new guy, things just weren't going right. So I did what I always did in stressful situations. I started smoking again. I only smoked for a week, it was hard not to, all of the people I was hanging around smoked. They never pressured me, but when I am stressed and everyone around me is smoking, there was no way I was going to say no.
At the end of the week, I stopped because I noticed pain on the right side of my tongue, and 4 white taste buds in a row. The person I had lost, was lost to cancer from smoking. So of course, I told myself I had just given myself cancer, but tried not to freak out too much.
I waited a week, and those spots went away. A week later, a ridge formed that looked like I was chewing on my tongue.
For the next 5 months, I went back and forth with dentists and oral surgeons telling me it wasn't cancer, I was too young (25), it didn't look like it, so it couldn't be it. They tried different treatments for different possible issues, none worked. Finally they took a biopsy for "precancer" cuz it still wasn't cancer. It came back as stage 3 tongue cancer that had spread to one lymph node on the right side of my neck.
I got no apology, no nothing but blank stares. It was more in the middle of my tongue, so what I was seeing on the outside wasn't the cancer, that was why they were having the issues finding it. But still, no apologies or anything remotely consoling for making me sit in pain for 5 months when it could have been taken care of much sooner.
I had a 10 hour surgery that involved removal of the right half of my tongue, reconstruction of it, and then removal of 40 lymph nodes from the right side of my neck. Then I had 30 rounds of radiation. I also had a tracheostomy and NG tube at my first surgery, and then a Peg feeding tube during my radiation as I was unable to eat during the end of radiation.
I lost 65 lbs during my treatment course, but I would not recommend anyone go that diet route, :).
It has now been 2 years and 3 months since my treatment ended, and so far I am still cancer free, but no in remission yet. For my cancer, I don't get to claim remission until I hit 5 years cancer free. I haven't had a "clear" scan, but it's just been activity and no cancer, so that's a good thing.
Looking forward to my 30th birthday in someways and not in others, lol.
So I have been cig free for almost 3 years now. I don't have cravings for a cig, but for that cold feeling I got from the menthol. I swear, if there was a way to have that, and I knew about it, and it would cause harm to my body, I would do it all the time, lol.
Hope no one else has to go through what I, or so many others have had to. I just wanted to share my story so that people are aware that it can happen. We even have a 18 year old girl who had cancer of the larynx, and sadly most recently a 13 year old boy, :(. Cancer really doesn't care about age. Also, there are vegan marathon runners who have been diagnosed with oral cancer as well. I guess my whole point of this is trying to make sure people are aware of what could happen, so they know about the what ifs. I knew nothing about tongue cancer, until I was diagnosed. I feel if I was more informed about it, maybe I would have made different decisions in life.