I originally posted this story on my Facebook page in October 2017, and after six years, I am still on my journey toward better health. I am sharing my story again here in the hopes that it can inspire and help others who are also working towards improving their health.
In July of this year (2017), I celebrated my first anniversary of being smoke-free. After being a smoker for over 30 years, I had finally quit and was feeling better and fitter than ever. At 48 years old, I went to the gym multiple times a week and enjoyed skateboarding on weekends, taking advantage of the sunshine and fresh air.
My motivation to quit smoking stemmed from my desire to stay fit as I aged. After several failed attempts in the past, I was inspired by a friend who had to change his diet drastically due to diabetes. I figured if he could give up his favorite foods, I could quit smoking. I educated myself on nicotine addiction, and in July 2016, I smoked my last cigarette. Unfortunately, the damage was already done.
Fast forward to August, when I caught a severe flu and cough. The doctor diagnosed me with bronchitis and prescribed antibiotics. When my symptoms persisted, I was given stronger antibiotics and asked to take an X-ray. The results revealed a hazy area in my right lung, which was suspected to be an infection or a reaction to the medication. I was asked to return for another X-ray in a few weeks.
In mid-September, I had the second X-ray, confident that everything would be fine. However, that evening, my doctor called to inform me that they found something concerning. After a series of tests and scans, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer. In early October, I underwent surgery to remove the affected part of my lung, but thankfully the cancer had not spread.
The doctor told me that my bronchitis actually saved my life, as early-stage lung cancer typically doesn’t have noticeable symptoms. Today, I am grateful for my second chance in life and the support of my loved ones, especially my wife.
I share my story to emphasize the importance of regular check-ups and to encourage those who still smoke to quit. It’s never too late to make a positive change.