DUBAI: Indian expatriate Abraham Samuel is a one-man anti-tobacco campaigner. Suffering from advanced lung cancer, he should know the ill effects of smoking.
Ahead of World No Tobacco Day on May 31, XPRESS interviewed this campaigner who leaves no stone unturned in warning people about the perils of smoking.
“I don’t know how much time I have left in this world, but I will do as much as I can to tell people to give up smoking. I have stage IV lung cancer and am suffering everyday. For the last two months I have barely been able to move or walk around; I am coughing continuously and often go breathless while talking. There is a lesson that people can learn from me to give up smoking before it starts threatening their life,” said the 53-year-old.
After smoking two packets a day for 35 years, Samuel was diagnosed with stage three cancer in 2010. Since then, Samuel’s condition has steadily deteriorated. “I have undergone many chemotherapy sessions, but it does not seem to be working. If people can see me and learn from me, it will prevent them from making the mistake I did.”
Today, Samuel barely manages to speak a couple of sentences before he starts panting. Living on the third floor of a building that has no lift, Samuel struggles to leave his flat. He hasn’t been to work in two months.
He said he takes every little opportunity – from confronting total strangers in public places to pleading with his friends – to urge people to quit. “When I see someone smoking, I simply walk up to them and ask them to give it up. People don’t always like it, but I don’t stop myself. Sometime I even open my shirt and show them my radiation marks – so they understand the severity of my condition.”
Samuel’s efforts has shown some results. His friend M.P. Chandy quit smoking around six months ago after Samuel educated him on the daily ordeals he is facing with cancer. “I used to smoke over a packet of cigarette a day. But Samuel’s physical distress because of the cancer really scared me. He can barely speak now without being breathless. Overnight, I took the decision to stop smoking and I have only Samuel to thank for it.”
Another benefactor of Samuel’s advice is his cousin, Mark Markose. From smoking one and a half packets a day, he has now given up the habit. “We had two family cases of lung cancer and I just decided to heed Samuel’s advice. Not many people take the trouble of changing the world around them, but Samuel is one such person. It’s amazing how selflessly he walks up to strangers and tells them to give up smoking. Even if one of them thinks about his advice seriously, his effort will have served the purpose,” said Markose.
Samuel is employed in a stationary company, earning just Dh3,500 a month. He lives with his wife and two daughters aged 22 and 19 in Dubai. “For the last two months, I have not been to work. My sponsor has been kind to me and let me stay home till I get better. My wife works for a private company and earns around Dh5,000 a month. She is the main bread-winner currently. It’s very tough for us as my daughter is in her second year of graduation. People must seriously consider giving up smoking if they are addicted as it can be a life saver.”