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Kendra P., NC

Starting smoking young, I was never a heavy smoker due to budget. I then was fortunate to gain employment with a major cigarette company. The company was fabulous to the employees including providing us with free cigarettes and the ability to smoke in many sections of the building. Sitting at a desk all day, I had a cigarette burning most of the time. We smoked in meetings, etc.

Ironically, not many employees were smokers (sorry to crush that myth most have regarding production and office workers smoke at cigarette companies). At age 59, I was working and looked out at the parking lot and thought to myself that it was going to be impossible to walk to my car. So quickly I felt terrible. I had the flu (even though our corporation had given us free flu shots).

Upon going to the doctor, I found I had End Stage COPD and was put on oxygen full time. Although I was mid-age, I still had a thrill for adventure. Dance classes, Karate, beach activities etc. In the blink of an eye, my life has become one of living in PJs and if I do go out praying to God to give me the strength to allow me to hold a cart and walk isles of a small store.

I was blessed with a granddaughter and my dream had always been to dance a solo with one, but this dream is just that...a dream because of cigarettes. I pray nightly for God to find a cure and guide me in how to help others with the extra time on earth I will get.

If I could prevent ONE person from lighting their first cigarette, sharing this story would be worth it.

By the way, if you smoke, save plenty of money to fix your teeth as I had beautiful teeth growing up and now they are breaking off constantly. Smoking now only damages your internal parts, teeth but also ages you much faster then others your age. Hmm...we don't think of these minor issues when we start young do we? I know I would have smoked anyway and I loved my job at the cigarette company, but I do know if I had never worked at the cigarette company, I would not have been able to afford to smoke as much as I did nor would any other office have allowed smoking at desks in the present day and in meetings. Please, think of those you will leave behind much sooner then you wish when you die from smoking and the pain and suffering from NOT being able to breath when you get COPD, and this is excluding lung cancer.

Also, think of your children and animals that will be smoking with you as they also get the smoke in their tiny lungs. People always say if you could change one thing in life what would it be, mine is as much as I loved the company that treated us so well, I would never had gone to work there (no free ciggarettes means MUCH less smoked and years added to my life) and #2 I would never have picked up that 1st cigarette in my younger years.

For those of you that do not understand COPD at it's worst, think about going underwater and needing to come up for air but not able to. It is like suffocating. DON'T START, IF YOU DO SMOKE STOP FOR YOURSELF, STOP FOR YOUR LOVED ONES AND STOP SO YOU DO NOT SUFFER!

By the way, I know I am dying and can't breath but still can't stop smoking totally.

PLEASE LOVE YOURSELF AND DON'T START SMOKING AND/OR STOP! (Sorry to the cigarette companies that provided my home and food, but feel I need to share my story.)

First Published: June 11, 2018

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