A heavy cigar smoker, Freud smoked 20 cigars a day despite health warnings from colleagues. Because of his frequent references to phallic symbolism, colleagues challenged Freud on the "phallic" shape of the cigar. Freud is supposed to have replied "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar". Initially concealing a cancerous growth in his mouth in 1923, Freud was eventually diagnosed with an oral cancer consisting of malignant squamous cell carcinoma. Despite over 30 surgeries, and complications ranging from intense pain to insects infesting dead skin cells around the cancer, Freud smoked cigars until his life ended in a morphine-induced coma to relieve the pain. In September 1939, he prevailed on his doctor and friend Max Schur to assist him in suicide. After reading Balzac's La Peau de chagrin in a single sitting, he said, "Schur, you remember our 'contract' not to leave me in the lurch when the time had come. Now it is nothing but torture and makes no sense anymore." When Schur said yes he remembered, Freud said, "I thank you." and then "Talk it over with Anna, and if she thinks it's right, then make an end of it." Schur administered three doses of morphine over many hours that resulted in Freud's death on 23 September 1939.