Sunday, 30 December 2012

Bryan's cancer story

*Update July 2015: The new legacy tobacco document library has gone online. Here you can search over 14 million documents from the secret vaults of big tobacco.

My daughter was telling me about another of the cigarette packets that they're selling now here. It has a picture of a guy on it who died very soon after being diagnosed with lung cancer. I found it online and here it is:

She came out with a story told to her by someone that he'd actually died of AIDS and not cancer, and that the family were considering suing the Australian gov for using the pictures without permission. If that were true it would have been about as shocking as the picture itself. Turns out it's completely false.

I guess it's understandable that people would question the validity of the picture. I mean seriously, ten weeks to go from the bloke in the corner inset pic, to the emaciated person near death? But yes it's actually true.
Bryan was an American mechanic and tradesman, a victim of lung cancer after smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

When he was dying in 1999, Bryan asked his family to get his story out there as a warning to others.

So these pictures were taken just hours before he died and published in a Florida newspaper.
And now 13-years-later they’ve made it all the way here to our cigarettes packets.more
He died in 1999 in Florida. Must have been very advanced, the cancer, to go that quick. This is a short video about it, I snipped a pic from the video below it. 



An interesting discussion below. I would suggest before anyone comes on here in Australia crapping on about Bryan carking it from AIDS to take a big dose of reality. He did not die of an AIDS related illness, he died of smoking related lung cancer. There was no underlying illness. Despite what people may believe. 

There's plenty of evidence around for anyone with half a brain and the internet. The burden of proof is on the person who claims it wasn't cancer. Perhaps those who still think he did, put their claims to the Dept of Health. Or the reporter that actually took up the story in a Florida newspaper, Sue Landry?
The story of exactly how Bryan Curtis came to appear on our plain packs is unclear. The Department of Health will only say that Mr Curtis was a US citizen who died of smoking-related lung cancer. It entered into a confidential agreement with his family to use the images.

Fairfax Media believes it was Mr Curtis' dying wish to prevent even one child sharing the same fate. An article published in the St Petersburg Times in Florida in June 1999, just weeks after he died, tells the story of the St Petersburg mechanic, roofer and construction worker, who smoked two packs of Marlboro Reds a day for nearly 20 years, until he died, aged 34.

In the weeks before his death, the father of two urged his mother to help him spread the anti-smoking message. She subsequently rang newspapers, radio and television stations seeking someone who would tell her son's story.

That person was Sue Landry of the St Petersburg Times. Since then, her article and the accompanying images have been shared across the internet. His shocking image is also believed to have been published in Time magazine and pinned on fridges, in schools and in factories around the world. The Age
Where is there any mention of AIDS? Or the part of the story that the gov here used the pics without permission and the family was going to sue? There's not one iota of evidence to support any of that.

What interested me the most about this whole thing was the connection made with AIDS. Being someone who's HIV+, having that lie chucked in your face is an insult. With all the disinformation, ignorance, and stigma associated with having HIV, and having to deal with that as part of life now, the last thing HIV+ people need is crap like this muddying the waters.

Update 2:

Here is Sue Landry's original article in the St Petersburg Times in Florida USA, 1999
He knew, only a few days after he went to the hospital on April 2 with severe abdominal pain, how wrong he had been. He had oat cell lung cancer that had spread to his liver. He probably had not had it long. Also called small cell lung cancer, it's an aggressive killer that usually claims the lives of its victims within a few months. more   
*Note: related post about this here.