Up in Smoke is the story of a woman battling lung cancer. Helen was a people pleaser who was always laughing and loved to dance. She surrounded herself with beautiful flowers, and was always happy. She lived a happy, and fulfilled life until she was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Helen tried her first cigarette in 1945 at the age of 15. Sixty-five years later, she was still smoking on a daily basis. “Her face was a road map to a long time smoker.” As time went on she said that she quit, but never really did. Helen used to hide her cigarettes under her tee shirts in her drawer.
The lies did not stop there with Helen. Even when she was at the doctor, she lied. She told the doctor that she had never smoked in her entire life. Her doctor could tell she was a smoker just by looking at her, but Helen insisted on lying.
Helen also brought her son into her lies. After getting the call from the doctor, her son confirmed Helen’s lie with the doctor. He said his mother had never smoked in her life.
The author of the story was Helen’s daughter in law. In the article, she expressed her feelings towards Helen’s situation. She was especially distraught over the lies that were told to the doctor. She wrote in the article how a balance between honesty and dignity is hard to find in a terminal illness.
The author starts the article off with resentment towards Helen’s lies, but in the end she had hoped that Helen was in a good place, no longer feeling scared and unprotected. She hoped that Helen was in a garden somewhere, finally at peace.
After reading this article I felt like it was written from the heart. A terminal illness like lung cancer is extremely hard to deal with.
Also, I realized the importance of the patient’s desire to fight cancer. I believe that Helen always wanted to smoke cigarettes, even though she knew that they could kill her. I do not believe that she wanted help. In the end, Helen lied to live life the way she wanted to.