Shane began smoking at age 18, something every member of his family already did. He was only 34 when the damage to his body from smoking became evident. He noticed he was having difficulty swallowing; throat cancer turned out to be the cause. During the surgeries that followed, doctors removed his larynx, part of his esophagus, and collarbone and then reshaped and stretched his stomach to serve as an esophagus. He also had a 1-inch stoma (opening) in his neck so he could breathe.
"I tried several times to quit smoking and thought it was impossible," said Shane with the aid of an electrolarynx, a device he pressed against his neck so he could talk. "But after the surgery, I've had no desire to smoke."
Having a stoma caused his day-to-day routine to change dramatically. He had to give up his work as a machinist, and even simple things, like taking a shower, was dangerous. At age 44, he faced a new challenge. His doctors had found cancer in his chest.
Shane hoped that by participating in the Tips From Former Smokers campaign, he could show others that while smoking may not kill you right away, a person would be foolish to think that smoking won't affect him or her eventually.
"You know how dangerous smoking is," Shane said. "Age makes no difference. It will catch up to you." Shane died on August 4, 2016 from smoking-related cancer.
- Page last reviewed: August 26, 2016
- Page last updated: August 26, 2016
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