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Student voices: Don't take life for granted

It is hard to believe we had our highly anticipated D.A.R.E. program almost seven years ago. That was probably the first essay I ever wrote. I actually just found it the other day. I remember being so proud of it. I wrote about how I will abstain from drugs and how bad they were.

Well, I have kept true to my promise and I could not be happier. I see people in my grade, and multiple people younger than me, making bad decisions. I always think back to fifth grade, when we were so innocent and thought all of this was so incredibly bad. I always wonder what they would say if their fifth grade self saw who they are today. Would they be disappointed? Would they turn out even different than they are now?

The world may never know. The amount of peer pressure that is put upon kids in high school and years after is greater than I would have ever imagined in fifth grade. It becomes cool to do illegal things. I don’t know about you but I don’t find it cool to put yourself in danger.

I have learned a lot about cancer the past year.  Probably more than what I should know. I always have hated tobacco. I was always that little girl that held her breath when walking past someone smoking. I still feel like a little fifth grader when it comes to it. But I learned some facts in the past year that scared me, and I don’t even smoke. I found out that the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States is lung cancer. The crazy part is the that lung cancer is the most preventable of all cancers. The most preventable is the most fatal. And yet 228,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer a year. 87 percent are smokers.

The past year, I have spent a lot of time at the Mayo Clinic with my mom, who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She hasn’t had it easy, but it’s been better than it is for a lot of patients there. I have walked the halls, I have been in the chemotherapy room, I have seen the patients, wishing they didn’t have to go through this. Most, like my mother, did not have the choice to develop cancer.

It hurts me to know that people smoke and put themselves in danger just to get a little buzz, a little energy from that nicotine. Smokers can protect themselves from developing lung cancer. I’ll never forget when I was sitting in the lobby by myself and I had to listen to a mom call a relative to tell them the updates on her son’s stage 4 cancer. I remember seeing him walk out of the doctor. He was only about 35 and could barely walk anymore.

These people would love to have the smoker’s life. The ability to protect themselves while they can. Switch places for a day, just to feel healthy again.

I know what my views on tobacco are and forever will be. You may be a smoker, you may not, but all I’ve got to say to everyone is never take your life for granted. What you think is harmless now could come back to bite you later. Quitting is always an option, no matter how hard you think it could be, but always remember, cancer patients can’t quit.