Sharon’s Story

Growing up in the seventies, it seemed to Sharon like everyone smoked cigarettes. She was only 13 when she took her first puff. In no time, her casual smoking would turn into a full-blown and expensive addiction. She smoked heavily for 25 years.

In 1997, at just 37, Sharon noticed a large growth on her throat and was diagnosed with stage IV throat cancer. She underwent radiation and several surgeries, and her larynx was removed. Today, at age 58, Sharon has been smoke-free for 14 years and speaks with the aid of an electrolarynx.

Sharon’s Videos


Sharon is a former smoker who was diagnosed with throat cancer in her thirties, leading to the loss of her larynx. In these commercials and extended videos, Sharon tells her story.

Sharon’s “Treadmill” Tips Commercial
Sharon started smoking at 13. When she was in her late 30s, she was diagnosed with throat cancer and she quit smoking. Despite repeated surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, doctors had to remove Sharon’s voice box to save her life. In this commercial, Sharon shares that walking every day makes her feel like herself again—almost.
Tiffany and Sharon’s “Ways to Quit” Tips Commercial
In this commercial, Tiffany encourages smokers get help to quit for good, using proven methods like smoking cessation counseling and nicotine replacement therapy, before they need to have their voice box removed like Sharon.
Sharon’s ”Peer Pressure” Story
Like many teenage girls, Sharon started smoking in junior high school to fit in. She thought since all her friends were smoking, it was the cool thing to do. Sharon’s 12-year-old granddaughter is in junior high now. In this video, Sharon talks about her fear that her granddaughter will give in to peer pressure and try smoking. She says kids don’t realize that it doesn’t take long to get hooked.
Sharon’s “Diagnosed at 37” Story
Sharon started smoking at 13. In her late 30s, she was diagnosed with throat cancer. She was a busy mom with two children. She made their lunches, took them to school, and was active in parent-teacher groups. In this video, Sharon talks about finding a lump in her neck and being told it was cancer. Doctors treated the tumor with chemotherapy and radiation, and tried to save her voice box. But when her symptoms returned a year later, her doctor said removing her voice box was the next step.
Sharon’s Story
Sharon was diagnosed with throat cancer in her thirties. She talks about how she never thought smoking would lead to problems at such a young age in this video from CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers® campaign.
Anthem Ad
This TV ad, from CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers® campaign, features Shane, Sharon, and Shawn — three people who have stomas as a result of their smoking. They provide tips on how to live with this condition.

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Sharon’s Biography


Growing up in the seventies, it seemed to Sharon like everyone smoked cigarettes. She was only 13 when she took her first puff. In no time, her casual smoking would turn into a full-blown and expensive addiction.

Sharon

She smoked heavily for 25 years. The wife and mother of two knew something was wrong when she felt fatigued and nauseous regularly. Sharon also noticed a growth on her throat. A biopsy would reveal a cancerous tumor in her throat so large it could be seen through the skin on her neck. The discomfort was unbearable. “I could barely drink water,” she says.

In 1997, at just 37, Sharon was diagnosed with stage IV throat cancer. She underwent radiation and several surgeries. Her life changed drastically, but she adds, “Life goes on after cancer.”

Today, Sharon is 58 and takes things one day at a time. She communicates using an electrolarynx, given that her voice box had to be removed. Smoke-free for 14 years and counting, Sharon knows that if she was able to quit, anyone can. “I used to wake up in the middle of the night to smoke, and it was the first thing I did in the morning,” she says.

Through the efforts of the Tips From Former Smokers® campaign, Sharon hopes to spread the message that smoking can lead to devastating outcomes. “I want to connect with kids especially, because they are under a lot of pressure to fit in,” she says.

More About Sharon


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