It is bizarrely addictive. I think that cigarettes should fall under the hard drugs law.

Fighter Marcel Verhoef (50): They placed a pin in my leg from my pelvis to my knee. That is a good solution, since at least I can walk again, sit down and lie down. The large bone in my leg was completely eaten away by metastases from my lung cancer.

I work as a tanker captain, week in, week out. Between shifts I receive treatments for lung cancer. Unfortunately, the treatment does not really work that well.

Well, I can’t lie. I was 14 years old when I started smoking. Everyone smoked. My parents, my classmates, everyone I knew, actually. It was strange if you didn’t smoke. I thought it was cool to stand around with a pack of shredded tobacco in your breast pocket. You could get cigarettes everywhere. Even after the shops had shut, then you would just go to the outdoor vending machine where you could still get cigarettes. I think you can still buy cigarettes in far too many places, in the view of children. It is bizarrely addictive. I think that cigarettes should fall under the hard drugs law.

On 28 February 2014, I received the diagnosis of lung cancer. I will never forget that date. I had just stopped smoking a year and a half earlier, because I was developing all kinds of symptoms. Pain in my chest and such. My wife had to pick me up from the ship; I thought I was going to die. I stopped all at once, with help. Only then do you see what a habit it is. I had cigarettes lying around everywhere. I was horribly irritable the first day; I was swearing at everyone everyone out, and in the evening I went to bed early.

It took quite some time before they figured out that I had lung cancer, since I had come in with symptoms in my leg. I was taking acetaminophen more or less continuously, but I could not lie down or sit down. The treatments for the lung cancer are not really going well.

It isn’t as bad now as it was, and I can fortunately work on the tankers again. I just turned 50, and my wife organized an amazing surprise party for me. My children are 10, 16 and 18 years old now, and I hope they never start smoking. They can see from me what the consequences are.

Sadly, Marcel Verhoef died on 11 February 2017 from the effects of lung cancer. Marcel had a great love of the sea and was always a tower of strength for his family. We are extremely grateful for all his support, kind words and commitment to Sick of Smoking.