BILLINGS – We are all, at one point or another, guilty of feeling invincible. That the problems other people face will not make their way into our lives.
Wyoming police officer C.S. Dickey believed a lifetime of activity would save him from a 40-plus year smoking habit.
“I’ve been physically active pretty much all this time,” said Dickey. “I did Crossfit. I exercised a lot. I was probably one of the most physically fit members of my department. I am deluding myself into thinking I do all these things to counteract this evil smoking that I was doing so I am safe.”
Dickey picked up cigarettes when he was 14 and still in high school. He said at that time, they were inundated with images of the Marlboro Man, in a time before people fully understood the dangers of cigarettes.
Like many who pick up a “bad habit”, he said he started because everyone else was doing it.
In June, Dickey said everyone in his family was getting sick. But when they got better and he did not, they knew something else was wrong.
After a couple of months of trying different medications, Dickey eventually went to the emergency room. It was not long after, he was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma, a cancer in his lungs.
Dickey is currently undergoing treatment at the Billings Clinic and is urging other people to think about not just their own health, but the lives of the people they love.
“One of the hardest things for someone who has been diagnosed with cancer is not necessarily what all this means to you or how this affects you, but dealing with how this affects members of your family,” said Dickey. “If you keep at something bad for you long enough, sooner or later you are going to hit the lottery of misery. I can’t imagine someone else going through something like that… not because of what it does to you but more what it does to the people around you who love you.”
In the United States, nearly 38 million people smoke cigarettes, and according to the American Cancer Society, about 480,000 people die each year from smoking-related illnesses.
On Nov. 15, it’s the American Cancer Society’s annual “Great American Smokeout.” The purpose is to serve as a catalyst for those who want to quit smoking.
For more information on the event, or for tools to quit, click here.