NBC News correspondent Mike Taibbi smoked a pack a day for four decades — until lung cancer claimed ABC News anchor Peter Jennings last August 7. The day after, Taibbi stubbed out his last cigarette ... and he's been smokefree ever since.
"I was shocked and embarrassed as I read through the research to see how much I didn’t know or had declined to note about the link between cigarette smoking and the deadliest of cancers. I’m a reasonably smart guy, I thought, as I processed one grim fact after another, so how could I have not known the basic statistics — for example, that 90 percent of male lung cancer patients are or were cigarette smokers. Or that smokers are up to 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer (20 times!) than are non-smokers and die an average of 14 years sooner. Or that by the time you have the symptoms Peter had when he was diagnosed — the shortness of breath, raspy cough and sudden weight loss — it's probably too late."Taibbi concludes his personal story with these words:
A few months ago a longtime acquaintance of mine asked me how I’d finally been able to kick the habit. I said I didn’t know, that maybe it was just my time to quit. Or, maybe, that I’d just been frightened into quitting by what had happened to the man I’d worked with (and smoked with) all those years ago: diagnosis to death in a mere four months. Then I said something I’d never said before, words I’d never spoken to anyone: “I guess what’s different is that now I want to live as long as I can. There are stories I want to cover or at least see how they turn out. More things I want to write, places I want to travel to. I want to sail some more, get better at golf, enjoy my marriage and continue being a father. Forget about getting hit by that bus: I want to live.”Read the full story here.