Ellen S

Ellen S., ND

My uncles encouraged my mom to start smoking at the age of 13 out behind the barn. Over the years she tried many  times to quit smoking but with the power the nicotine hold held on her-- she was never able to quit for very long each time and returned to smoking once again.

I am an Oncology Nurse by profession and I can not tell you the number of patients that I have cared for, or been with and held their hand as they were told they have cancer or taken their last breath.

In 2005 Because of my professional background working with cancer patients,  I was asked to go to Washington DC to meet with our lawmakers.  About the same time my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer.  I remember being with her in the Doctors office when she was told "you have lung cancer".

I went with my mom to all her chemotherapy and Radiation appointments, and as her health declined--I decided as much of an honor as it was for me to go to Washington-- my place was at her bedside.  3 months before she died, I utilized the family leave bill that President Clinton had just signed into law and took a leave from work. I moved into her home and cared for her.

As my mom's health continued to decline, I came to the conclusion that as important as it was for me to go to Washington it was more important for me to stay at her side. On the day that I finally told my mom of my decision... my Mom said to me --"Don't worry Ellen--You'll be there--You have to go--You have to speak for me".

My Moms battle with lung cancer lasted for 9 months. Mom continued to smoke until she was in the last 24 hours of her life when she went into a coma and left us with a tear in her eye.

On the day after her funeral, I boarded my plane as scheduled for Washington DC to meet with our Congressman.  I remember being in our Congressman's office and we were asking for increased funding for the Cancer Promise Bill which
was for increased funding for the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the NCI
(the National Cancer Institute).  I shared my cancer story and right then and there my Congressman signed on to co-sponsor the Cancer Promise bill and then
took a victory lap through the halls of Congress with us.
Right then and there I knew just how important one voice is in this fight against Cancer is.

My Grandfather also smoked a cigar and he died at the age of 61 from a massive heartattack...probably caused from smoking.

 I have a sister with asthma and I am sure that is from growing up around all the second hand smoke for 18 years being around my mom's smoking.  

What is hard on me now is watching some of my sisters
continue to smoke and that tradition has carried on down to their daughters.

I don't know how one can even continue to smoke after watching your mother die from lung cancer.  That's the hold nicotine can have on a person.

When your lawmakers hear your story and they can connect with your story it can make a huge difference in their decision making.
You may not think your story is important but you never know when it is your personnel story that creates a huge impact on your lawmaker and when it comes time for them to vote and make a decision as to which way they will vote-- they may just think of you and your story as they cast their vote for or against an issue.

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