Indian woman pays heavy price for husband's smoking habit

MEET Nalini Satyanarayan, a 70-year-old woman from India who has never laid her hands on a single cigarette before but ended up with vocal cord cancer, thanks to her husband who was a heavy smoker.

"I broke down. I had never smoked a cigarette in my life, nor hurt a soul, and yet this is what had happened. They said I was a victim of passive smoking because I sat with my husband while he smoked. I had never heard the term before," cried Nalini.

Her husband used to smoke 18 cigarettes a day, and without realising the harm it could lead, Nalini was an ignorant passive smoker, inhaling all the smoke from her late husband.

According to The Better India and Indian Express, ever since marrying, Nalini's husband had a habit of smoking cigarettes when thinking about work-related stuff. Efforts to make her husband quit was nearly impossible.

The husband suffered a stroke when he was 45, and yet he did not give up smoking. Five years later, he had a severe heart attack leading him to quit smoking for once and for all. Despite quitting, nine years later, he passed away in his sleep.

"Doctors cut me open to remove my vocal chords as well as the thyroid gland. There was a hole in my neck (called a stoma) and I used to be fed through a Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) tube attached to my stomach," said Nalini who was diagnosed with vocal cord cancer at the age of 62.

Nalini was not left alone to face her fate, her children encouraged and participated the entire journey which kept her going. Now, she's an activist fighting against tobacco products and spreading awareness about the dangers of smoking.

"I learnt to talk all over again – the alphabet, how to hold my windpipe so I could speak – and to manage the hole in my neck. Now I breathe through this hole and I am even learning to play the flute through it!"

And her advice to the world ...

... "Don't underestimate the threat of passive smoking. Don't shy away from telling your loved ones not to smoke, for themselves and for you!"