My role


My mate is dying

THE LIFE OF RYAN: Comedian John Ryan sees the humour in most situations. Then he heard Dave's news.

John Ryan

Although I have never smoked I respect people’s right to choose what they do. I come from a long line of happy smokers and as the only non smoker in the family; I understand the joys of a cigarette. This is not a quit smoking piece.

There are apparently ten million smokers in the UK. It is not a popular pastime anymore, although in the current economic climate we should probably encourage more people to take up the habit for some much needed tax payments.

Anyhow, my mate Dave works in IT. All day he sits at his desk tap, tap, tapping away on his keyboard. In this day and age where we are all trying to make ends meet he puts in all the hours he can. As a father of three kids under ten he wants to be able to provide a good home. He has a nice car, they have great holidays. The price of it though is that he doesn’t see much of them during the week. It is a sacrifice that he like many others is willing to make in order to build a better future. He never went to university but wants his children to.

So he works through his lunch break most days stopping only for a coffee and a cigarette. It’s his one vice. Good luck to him I say, why would you want coffee on its own when you can enjoy a shot of nicotine at the same time? He doesn’t really drink alcohol, doesn’t gamble and doesn’t have an eye for the women. A drag on a fag is as close as he gets to being ‘naughty’.

Part of his 'personality'

Obviously he always knew that smoking wasn’t good for him but he started at fourteen and now thirty five years later it is as much a part of his character as his flaming red hair. The drag on the cigarette first thing in the morning always gave him the strength to start the day. It was always a crutch to hide his shyness, an ice breaker when meeting strangers. It always used to feel cool.

When we worked together he always said that if he quit he would lose his personality. A beer and a cigarette are his luxury at any party. He is a considerate smoker, when the phone rings he habitually lights up and goes outside. On the drive to work, a cigarette and Radio 4 break the monotony of the two hour daily commute. He keeps a window open so as not to make the family car smell. Dave loves his cigarettes, but never smokes around the children. He never really believed that passive smoking is harmful but is a considerate smoker. Generally in good health, apart from the morning cough Dave is an everyday ‘regular guy’ and has a good life.

It all started with tingling in his fingers a few months ago. He figured it was RSI and put it down to all the hours he had been putting in. He tried to type more gently but some days even that didn’t help. When the redness appeared he thought that he must have developed an allergy to the new ergonomic keyboard he had bought. The swelling in his fingertips puzzled him but he wasn’t worried.

After being ‘nagged’ by his wife he booked a check up at the GP surgery just to see if he could get some cream for the ‘rash’ that was not responding to the E45 they used at home for the baby. The doctor sent him to hospital for some checks and a few weeks later he received the bombshell.

If smoking makes you breathless imaging the shock of discovering that you had lung cancer, that really took his breath away. He was stunned. Okay, he had always had a chesty cough first thing in the morning. Yes, climbing the stairs at work had been getting more difficult but he put that down to the extra bit of weight that mid life had brought him.

A fag after chemo' seems wrong

Over 100,000 people a year are dying from smoking related diseases. I am not suggesting that Dave has developed cancer through his smoking. I am sure that there could be some other reason. He just can’t think of any. He doesn’t even have the Granny that smoked eighty fags a day and lived until she was a hundred excuse. No, Dave is just one of the unlucky ones.

Every two minutes someone is diagnosed with cancer, it affects more than one in three of us. He has an inoperable tumour and it has spread. He came away determined to quit smoking and was stunned to find that the doctor advised him not to!

Being told you have cancer is stressful why add to that by quitting. It seems a bit ironic that this was the first time in his life he has been encouraged to smoke. A fag after a chemotherapy session seems somehow wrong. Lighting up in front of friends who all know his condition is terminal makes him feel pathetic. Dave is no longer teased about his flaming red hair as it has all fallen out. He has lost his future. The money he saved for the kids will hardly compensate for them losing their dad. The drag on the cigarette first thing in the morning no longer gives him the strength to start the day. It is no longer a crutch to hide his shyness. It doesn’t feel cool anymore.

The point of a cigarette as I can make out is to get the nicotine into your blood as quickly as possible. I am advised that a quick way to get a drug into your blood stream is via the rectum. So if you want to smoke why not stick your cigarettes ‘where the sun don’t shine’ you will get a quicker hit and not harm your lungs. You will also make us non-smokes smile. As I said at the start, this is not a quit smoking piece. You smoke away to your hearts delight. Like my mate Dave does. Or did.

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Page created on August 31st, 2012

Page updated on August 31st, 2012