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Martha H.

Ever since I was a little girl, I've been surrounded by tobacco use. Even now as I enjoy retirement, tobacco continues to affect my life. My father, mother and sister were lifelong smokers and they all died of lung cancer -- my sister just two months after she was diagnosed.

My other sister, who is also retired, smokes and finds it too difficult to quit. Though I was surrounded by tobacco, smoking never appealed to me. In fact, the smell of it really turned my stomach. Not to mention I knew it was unhealthy and it could lead to lung cancer and could kill you. I know it must be hard for people to quit. I tried to help my mother quit but it didn't work.

I'm still trying to help my sister quit, but it's a tough battle. Lung cancer has affected my family, my life. I want to help raise awareness about the importance of quitting smoking and being scanned for lung cancer because both would have saved my parents' lives. I want to join the thousands of other family members, advocates and voices and educate people about the unhealthiness of smoking and the options out there to help people quit. Everyone should have a fighting chance, and if there is a scan available to give people a fighting chance, then I want to help raise awareness about it.

I'm lucky that I didn't take up tobacco as a kid even though it was all around me, but other children may not be so lucky. I want to help save kids from deciding to try it and help adults decide to quit it. Because no one should lose their parents or sibling to lung cancer and everyone should have help trying to quit. It could save their life.

First published: November 15, 2017

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