'Why I made a video mocking my lung cancer diagnosis'

‘Why I made a video mocking my lung cancer diagnosis’

“Who told you to smoke? Now it’s chemo for treatment. Fuck!”sings the retired Inês Chaim, 71, while undergoing a chemotherapy session against lung cancer.

The video was shared by her on TikTok and went viral on the platform, where she accumulates more than 9.4 million views and 1.2 million likes.

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The way Inês mocks the disease caught the attention of many people. “It’s my way, I don’t take things too seriously”, says the retiree to BBC News Brasil.

The publication, assesses Inês, is a way of making people aware of the harmful effects of smoking. She was a smoker for over four decades. “Without a doubt, the disease was caused by the cigarette”, says the retiree.

Smoking or passive exposure to tobacco are identified as important risk factors for the development of lung cancer. According to data from the National Cancer Institute (Inca), the disease is associated with the consumption of tobacco products in 85% of cases.

At the end of the 20th century, according to Inca, lung cancer became one of the main causes of preventable deaths. In 2020, the most recent data, 28,620 deaths were recorded due to the disease in the country.

Video recorded by a retiree during chemotherapy went viral on TikTok — Photo: REPRODUÇÃO/TIKTOK/BBC

Inês’ story is an example of the consequences of smoking, points out oncologist Fernando Medina da Cunha, responsible for accompanying the retired woman at the Campinas Oncology Center (COC).

“Tobacco has thousands of carcinogenic substances, in addition to nicotine, which is an addictive drug. This can affect not only the lungs, but also the esophagus, mouth, pancreas and bladder. lung cells, which lose the ability to die and start the process of multiplication in a geometric progression, forming the tumor, which we call cancer due to its ability to infiltrate neighboring tissues”, details the doctor.

Inês says that she started smoking cigarettes when she was 13 years old. “At 14 I also became addicted to marijuana and at 20 I started using amphetamines. At 30, I gave up everything but cigarettes,” she says.

Within her own family, Inês had an example of the consequences of smoking after her father, who was a smoker for decades, died of lung cancer.

“But we think that nothing will ever happen to us”, says the retiree.

When she was 58 years old, she began to notice worsening health problems.

“I smoked a lot, almost two packs of cigarettes a day. I could no longer walk properly because I was very short of breath”, he says. She was diagnosed with emphysema, a disease that damages lung structures and causes breathing difficulties.

Faced with the problem, he decided it was time to give up smoking.

Inês was a smoker for about 45 years — Photo: ARQUIVO PERSONAL/BBC

“I was 58 years old when I stopped for good. It wasn’t easy, I had to take medicine to calm down because I was very nervous without smoking”, she recalls.

In 2020, after facing difficulties even to walk, Inês looked for a pulmonologist. She underwent several types of tests and was diagnosed with a type of lung cancer known as small cell neuroendocrine, a tumor that spreads quickly.

“It is highly linked to smoking, grows much faster and affects other regions, such as bones, liver, mouth, among others. It is extremely aggressive”, explains oncologist Fernando Medina.

The retiree had to undergo surgery to remove the tumor and underwent about 25 radiotherapy sessions.

“I took the diagnosis and treatment in a good light. I didn’t cry and I didn’t despair”, says Inês.

She says that she did not despair even when she discovered, about a year after the end of the first treatment, that the disease had reached other regions (a process known as metastasis).

Inês underwent two other surgeries to remove tumors that appeared after the end of the first treatment and started chemotherapy. The retiree is currently undergoing treatment.

The elderly woman says she knows the severity of the disease, but prefers to handle the situation in the best possible way.

From the first diagnosis, she tried to get her life in order. “I left a payroll, explaining everything my husband and I had to pay. I also left all my passwords for my daughters.”

One of Inês’ goals, in the midst of the treatment, was for her illness to become a warning to other people. So she asked her youngest daughter to record a video during a chemotherapy session. The record was shared by the retiree on TikTok and soon reverberated on the network.

In the publication, many people wished for improvement, others congratulated her for the courage to share the alert and also praised the way she faces the disease.

“The situation has to be ironic, because if I take it seriously, I go crazy”, justifies Inês, who defines herself as the “vein of smoke” for saying that in her past she was “practically walking smoke”.

After the surprise with the repercussion of the video, Inês continued to share other publications about her history with the disease and smoking on TikTok.

In a video published last Saturday, Inês shared the moment she shaved her hair due to treatment against the disease — Photo: ARQUIVO PESSOAL/BBC

The doctor who accompanies her praises the patient’s initiative to disclose the causes of lung cancer and warn about smoking. “I thought it was a fantastic measure”, summarizes Medina.

As she continues with the treatment, she continues to share the details on her TikTok profile. In the most recent video, published on Saturday (13/08), she showed the moment she shaved her hair due to chemotherapy.

About the future, she avoids making plans. “I want to live one day at a time and not expect anything. It’s the best thing I do: live in the present. I’ve always been like that.”

“There’s no use in fear, because everyone is going to die. Now I’m going to be crying because of cancer? I’m not going!”, he declares.

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