Annette experimented with cigarettes as a teenager, smoking occasionally. But by the time she turned 20, Annette was a regular smoker.
Annette lives in New York and is the mother of three. She also has three grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. "I love visits with my family," says Annette. She has a special bond with her 10-year-old granddaughter, who repeatedly urged Annette to quit smoking. "My granddaughter would say to me,'Grandma, don't smoke; please don't smoke.'"
When she was 50, Annette finally heeded her granddaughter's advice and quit cold turkey after having smoked for more than 30 years. But by then she already had cancer. At 52, Annette went to the doctor because she was having difficulty breathing. "It took multiple doctor visits, all kinds of X-rays, and then a PET/CT scan to uncover lung cancer." The cancer was so advanced that it was necessary to remove one of her lungs.
The operation was successful in removing the cancer. Diligent with her follow-up care, doctors found that Annette had oral cancer a few years later. The cancer had gotten into her jawbone, and surgery was required once again.
Today, at age 57, Annette is cancer-free — and thankful. Her staunch faith helps her deal with the challenges that have resulted from her experience. She loves to crochet, cook, and spend time with her loved ones. She also lends support to smoking cessation groups. "I talk to the smokers and let them know that this can happen to you."
Through the Tips From Former Smokers campaign, Annette wants to help others and further spread the message that smoking is dangerous and can even be lethal.
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- CDC/Office on Smoking and Health
4770 Buford Highway
Atlanta, Georgia 30341-3717