Bill Comisso knew when he started smoking, he’d eventually get lung cancer. His advice? Don’t start.
Bill Comisso had been healthy all his life. At 63, he had never been in a hospital and he didn’t have high blood pressure or cholesterol. But in August, when he started losing a significant amount of weight, his wife told him to go to the doctor.
“If it wasn’t for losing weight rapidly I wouldn’t have known I was sick,” he notes. “I never lost my appetite through anything. Nothing hurt. I thought it was diabetes because it’s in my family, but it wasn’t.”
Bill learned he had lung cancer in his left lung, a result from 35 years of smoking. What followed after included 30 rounds of radiation at Renown Institute for Cancer followed by chemotherapy at Renown Infusion Services.
“The cancer is not my body – it’s me. I’m a smoker so I’m not mad at anybody. I smoked for a long time and I got cancer,” he explains.
Bill knew the dangers of smoking when he picked up the habit and believed he’d eventually get lung cancer. He thought it would happen much later in life, not in his early 60s.
“This nicotine, it grabs you, and it’s hard to quit,” Bill says. “I’ve cut way, way, way back. I have one every once in a while, but I had been smoking a pack and a half.”
Bill says when his treatment has concluded and he’s been given an “all clear,” he will participate in a smoking cessation program.
When he was given the news of the lung cancer, Bill says if he was afraid of anything it was for his family. He explains wasn’t afraid of the thought of dying for himself, but for his wife and son. His advice to those in his situation? Don’t be afraid.
“Just go through the treatment and suck it up,” he says. “Get in as early as you can and listen to the doctors. You’ve just got to go through it.”
He does see some positives to his situation.
Since he was diagnosed with lung cancer at a younger age than he imagined, he is stronger to undergo treatment. Also, his side effects from the radiation and chemo have been minimal resulting in slight fatigue and some irritation that has affected his eating.
“It’s probably aged me about five or six years in the last couple of months,” he says. “But when I gain weight and grow my hair back, I’ll get back.”
Through his treatment, which ended in mid-November, Comisso had nothing but positive things to say about his doctors, Deepa Mocherla, MD, and Jennifer Sutton, MD, as well as the nurses in the Infusion Center.
“The nurses here are top-shelf,” he notes. “They are the all-star team – they aren’t just regular, run-of-the-mill nurses. If they were, they wouldn’t be invited to this party [to work in Infusion Services].”
After having believed he would get cancer from smoking and now, having gone through treatment, Bill wants to share his knowledge with others.
“It’s a lot easier not to start smoking then it is to quit,” he says. “Quitting is hard, it’s like heroine. But don’t start; it’s so much easier that way.”