By: Kevin Bateman - Salem, Washington County

In 2000, Kevin Bateman started noticing a knot on the right side of this throat while shaving in the shower. Three months later, it was time for his annual company physical that escalated to a biopsy.

“About a week after the biopsy, it was 7 p.m. on a weeknight, and I got a call from my doctor’s office to come in at 7 a.m. I knew that they didn’t open until 9 a.m. I remember telling my girlfriend, now wife, ‘This isn’t good.’”

The doctor told Kevin that he had cancer and that they needed to perform surgery immediately, followed by radiation, chemotherapy or both—it was Kevin’s choice. Kevin’s treatment regimen was grueling. He had between 35 and 37 radiation treatments.

“The first week of treatment, I lost my ability to swallow water. My throat swelled up so badly. I went from 230 pounds to 150 pounds. By January, I had to have a feeding tube installed, and that lasted for eight months. I hated that feeding tube.”

He retired from the National Guard in 2011 with 37 years of service. Kevin had never smoked a day in his life, but he had always been surrounded by second-hand smoke. His doctor told him that had been the cause of his cancer.

“I was a maintenance man who didn’t smoke or drink coffee, but everyone around me all smoked. I bartended for years off and on, so I was in bars all the time. My parents smoked. I was always around smoke.”

Kevin believes that increasing the price of cigarettes will decrease the number of parents who smoke, subjecting fewer children to second-hand smoke. “That is a huge benefit. I hate to hit a person with more taxes, but if that is the best way to get people to quit smoking, then let’s have at it.”

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