- Other Choices
- Volunteerism - General
- Volunteerism - Anti-Tobacco/Smoking
Volunteerism - Anti-Tobacco/Smoking
The Singing Cowboy
Starring our own WebWhispers Member Tommy Cook
Tobacco Reality Unfiltered
The 2008 campaign introduces the moving story of Reena, a 29-year-old single mother from Asheville, NC. Reena started smoking at 13, was diagnosed with throat cancer at 21, and had to have her voice box removed in order to survive. Reena’s powerful story is intended to wake people up to the reality that tobacco’s health effects can happen even at younger ages.
Their commercials with Reena are available to view at their web site.
We will be happy to work with you and will be interested in adding your information to this section. If you choose to work as a smoking awareness volunteer, you will find information and other volunteers here to help you gather information and get started.
Hints from our Educators
Many of our members have written in with hints for public speaking, especially to schools. We have these in this special section.
I use "my story" as the heart of my talks and build in the overall effects of smoking. I also use my talks as an opportunity to teach them about a laryngectomee, how we learn to talk again and the way our loss has changed our lives. I try to cover all methods of speech. I use esophageal and demonstrate the electro larynx. I also try to give them a chance to use the electro larynx at the end of my talk. It makes a lasting impression on the lower grades (5 & 6) especially. I guess I'm doing some good. They keep asking me back and I've had some very positive feed back from some of the students. I figure if I save one in each group, my time is well spent.
Jim Blichmann, Shawnee, KS
Our members speak to several schools. Points that really got to the kids were:
- Hard to talk on the telephone. That is something all kids love to do.
- Swimming. Something they all enjoy in the summer.
- The difference in taking a shower or bath now with a stoma.
- Showing them the stoma. One little girl started crying and had to hug our lary. It really made an impact on the young ones and the teens seeing the stoma and under-standing that was the only way we could breath.
Jerry McGee (wife of David McGee)
Ken and I spend a lot of time talking with elementary school children. Ken is a laryngectomee and I am an RN, so he tells his story and I talk on the statistics, ingredients of cigarettes; we also hit on smokeless tobacco and second hand smoke. We have more recently begun talking with Parent Teacher Associations (PTA's), telling them of the fears their children have regarding their health, as well as that of their parents. Kids are precious and we feel if we can get to one, we're doing something right.
Ken & Katy Lyons
I like to call them "anti-tobacco" talks, choosing to specialize in schoolchildren. I get a bit fussy in that I set my low limit at 4th grade (since I feel that is the earliest age of comprehension) and my upper limit at 9th grade (being the father of two, I believe that most kids "know it all" by that age). I have been speaking in my local area for the 5 of the 6 years I have been a laryngectomee. Very rarely do I use any outside material but usually tell the kids my own story and answer a lot of questions. I treat the subject with the seriousness it deserves but try to temper it with a bit of humor (such as using two ELs at once to produce a "stereophonic voice"). I have never left a classroom feeling that I failed. Likewise, I don't kid myself that I am going to "convert" every kid I talk to but we owe it to ourselves to try. Occasionally, I will distribute literature from the American Cancer Society (ACS) to the teachers to use as follow up material after I leave. They seem to appreciate it.
My big no-no is speaking to adults (other than at PTOs so that they see what I'm telling their children). My thinking is that if an adult can look at and listen to me in our everyday dealings and can't figure out that tobacco is not good for them, then I haven't got that much talent to convince them with words. I live in northeast Pennsylvania. If there is anyway I can be of assistance, please let me know.
Ron Gillette wrote some marvelous suggestions for how to get speaking engagements, his letter to educators, handouts, and an outline of his speaking plan.
SCHOOL TALK ABOUT NICOTINE by Ron Gillette
I will present a simple narrative/outline of topics I try to present to middle-school children. If you decide to use part or even all of this outline when you speak, feel free to alter, change, add to or delete anything in it. I have tailored this for myself after speaking to over 3000 children over the past few years.
Your interest in this document indicates that you intend to speak about the hazards of the carcinogens in the tobacco products that most of us used for years. I found a great excerpt that I use as a handout. It was written by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and it is presented at the end of this document. Another handout is taken from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. I inquire from the students if they have any female smokers in the family as this speaks of the dangers of female bladder cancer. I buy about one ream of paper a month for these copies, little cost when compared to the lives I may help change.
The first, and I mean the very first, step is to establish a solid contact with your local ACS people. They are a wealth of help, especially in the area of handouts. They publish them and they are geared to our teenagers. Once they know what your plans are they will give these to you for additional handouts. You need to make sure they know you will agree to speak in front of any group, of any ages since they get requests for speakers. I have spoken to a group of unwed pregnant teen smokers and many groups who are attending smoking cessation classes. My being a cancer survivor gives them an added incentive to kick the habit.
How do you arrange to speak to the children? I called all the middle schools and got the names of the principals as well as the health teachers. I wrote each a personal letter using that information since calling them by name works better than, "Dear Teacher". I explained in great detail what this is all about and told them I would speak for about 40 minutes, or less if needed. It was not very long until I started to get numerous calls to come and speak to their classes. I am now a repeat performer having gone back to the same schools several times. Once the ACS knows you will speak they will also ask you to do so.
To really get your foot in the door, be on time, and being a little early won't hurt. The classes run on a tight schedule. I carry several business cards and I make sure that every teacher I deal with gets one.
1. I write my name and email address on the board and make them a promise I will answer anyone who may want to write to me.
2. I start with what I call my ice breaker. I show them a large bill and tell them they can win this if they can hold their breath longer than I. We all put one hand over our mouth and pinch the nose with other. Just before they turn blue I stop them and tell them they can't win. A few know I breathe through my stoma but many are not aware of this. I now remove my cover.
3. I now speak of my background, four engineering degrees, a retired Naval officer etc. I speak briefly about radiation prior to my hospital stay for my surgery. I point out waking up without a voice, the ugly feeding tube, not being able to answer the call bell when I rang, having to write for any assistance.
4. I speak of my length of time I was a heavy smoker, 3 to 4 packs a day, starting at 14.
5. Time for a little data from the ACS:
a. If you do not start until you reach 18, the odds are 92% you will not start
b. You will smoke until you are in your mid forties, a lot of advertising is out there to sway you into quitting
c. When the tobacco company loses an adult they need to hook you, speak about sexy advertising and adding flavor to new products (mint or cherry )
6. The ACS can get you a ton of data gathered about smoking, alcohol and the incidences of cancer. It is wise not to load them up with too much of this, especially the younger students. It shall suffice to say that if a smoker also uses alcohol to excess his odds go up about 6 times to be diagnosed with cancer of the head or neck.
7. Make sure you tell them to raise their hand with any questions at any time. I now head for the blackboard and draw a simple picture of my throat as it is now, no airway to my mouth or nose. I speak of several methods we use to communicate, I draw a picture of my puncture and how my TEP is installed.
8. Now is when you need to speak about esophageal, EL and TEP speech.
I have several sterilized old TEP valves I pass around and now I go around the room and give them a good look at my valve.
I have a burping contest with the boys and get one of them to burp his name, leads into esophageal speech discussion.
I demonstrate my EL and tell them they can try it later.
I point out at this time that I have not or will not tell them not to smoke. I now tell them how my life has changed and how I have learned to live without a voice or an airway to my mouth or nose.
1. Demonstrate my shower collar, extreme caution around the water (boating, swimming, the beach etc.)
2. My hygiene, cleaning and care of my stoma, flushing my TEP etc.
3. Decals for my vehicles and all my doors at home pointing out I am a neck breather.
4. My MEDICALERT bracelet I wear all the time.
5. Coughing and sneezing from my stoma.
6. Blowing on hot foods or drinks, blowing out candles, etc.
7. Importance of a voice without all the additional care I must do to be able to speak to you today.
8. Questions and play time with my EL.
This is the end. As Porky Pig used to say, "Thatssss all folks". I hope some if not all of this is something you can add to your presentation. Get out there and talk about that demon nicotine! Once you start it gets easier every time. JUST DO IT!
MY PERSONAL LETTER TO THE SCHOOLS
Ronald V. Gillette
2327 Wofford Road
Charleston, SC 29414
This letter is twofold, to introduce myself and to offer my services as a volunteer speaker. Eighteen months ago I was a victim of throat cancer and no longer have vocal chords. I speak with the use of a special plastic valve in my throat and am also proficient in the use of an Electro-Larynx. I breathe through an opening in my neck.
Since my experience with throat cancer I have become extremely learned about the hazards associated with the use of alcohol and tobacco products. I was a very heavy user of both for over 50 years and I am now trying to do my bit to pass on a tremendous amount of information to our youngsters. If I can get just one young person to refrain from tobacco or alcohol, then my time has not been wasted.
A little about my background and qualifications to speak; I am a retired Naval Officer, I worked for a large manufacturing company as a senior engineer in research and development and then started my own design and consulting business. I have four engineering degrees and have taught a variety of subjects for many years. In the last twelve months I have probably spoken to about 3000 students. I speak to church groups, scout troops, senior homes or anyone or any group who will ask me to speak. I am totally retired at this time and have no schedule to adhere to. I have and will go to any school if asked at any time.
Head and neck cancer is the only type of cancer that is over 99% preventable. That alone is an amazing statistic, out of 1000 people diagnosed with head and neck cancer, 998 either were heavy drinkers or used some sort of nicotine product to excess. PRETTY SCARY! True as this data supplied by the American Cancer Society is, our younger generation still continues to do both of these to excess starting at a very young age. Additional data points out that almost all (92%) of our youngsters who do not try smoking before they reach 18 will never smoke. Now it makes sense when we see the advertising gimmicks that are used to tell our youngsters that it is cool to smoke, there are big bucks involved.
It is not my intention to be an anti tobacco or an alcohol martyr but rather talk to the children and tell it like it is. I must do many things differently; the main thing is speaking. I speak of simple things like a shower, sneezing, coughing, a whistle and many other things I have had to learn to do differently.
If you feel my message is important enough to allow me to speak I will be forever grateful. I made myself a promise when I woke up after my surgery with a hole in my throat, tubes in my nose and no voice. I would make an effort to educate others about my stupidity for so many years. I normally talk for about an hour and then field an enormous number of questions. I find the children are very withdrawn at first and then they want to know everything about the subjects I mentioned. I also have found that a small group works better, about 30 or so but I have talked to an auditorium full. I find that when I can get in the middle of the group they tend to open up and feel more at ease. I hope to get a response from you in the very near future.
Ronald V. Gillette
A Cancer Survivor of the Larynx and Vocal Chords
PS: If I speak in a classroom I do not need any type of amplifier. If I speak to a very large group I can not project enough volume to be heard without a sound system.
IF YOU DON'T SMOKE, DON'T START! IF YOU SMOKE, QUIT!
The following is an excerpt from a National Publication written by the CDC (Center for Disease Control). I have quoted it for your information.
What are they? They are the deadly killers found in narcotics (illegal drugs), alcohol and tobacco products. Tobacco use is the single leading preventable cause of death in the United States, accounting for approximately 430,000 deaths each year. The prevalence of cigarette smoking nationwide among middle and high school students increased during the 1990s, peaking in 1996/1997, then began a gradual decline. Approximately 80% of tobacco users initiate use before the age of 18 years. If the trend of early initiation of use continues, approximately 5 million children aged <18 who are living today will die prematurely as adults because they began using tobacco during adolescence. The economic liability associated with tobacco use ranges from $50 billion to $73 billion per year in medical expenses alone. Because of these health and economic consequences, CDC has recommended that states establish and maintain comprehensive tobacco control programs to reduce tobacco use among our youth.
FEMALE BLADDER CANCER
If you are a female smoker or you know one who does, please read this and think about the data it contains. This is a re-print from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 93, No 7, pp 538-545, April 11, 2001.
"Among men and women who smoke a comparable number of cigarettes daily, the female smokers have a significantly higher risk of bladder cancer than the male smokers, according to the results of a study recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Bladder cancer is a common cancer, with 55,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Unfortunately, most bladder cancers are not diagnosed until the cancer has reached the advanced stage and it is extremely difficult to treat or cure.
There are currently no effective screening procedures for detecting bladder cancer early before symptoms are present; therefore, it is critical that researchers continue to investigate any factors that may lead to the development of this disease in order to help prevent its occurrence. Smoking has long been linked to bladder cancer, but few studies have investigated the differences in risks between genders. Researchers recently conducted a population-based, case-control study in Los Angeles, California. The study involved 1,514 patients with bladder cancer and 1,514 individually matched control subjects.
The researchers performed interviews in order to gather information regarding tobacco use. In addition, the subjects provided blood samples so that researchers could measure levels of 3- and 4- aminobiphenyl(ABP)-hemoglobin adducts, a marker of arylamine exposure.
Arylamines are found in cigarette smoke and are believed to be a strong factor in smoking induced bladder cancer. As in several previous studies, the results indicated that smokers are 2.5 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than non-smokers. Furthermore, the results of this study indicated that female smokers are at a significantly increased risk for bladder cancer when compared to male smokers. In addition, when comparable numbers of cigarettes were smoked, female smokers had higher levels of ABP-hemoglobin adducts than male smokers. This is a significant observation because ABPs may play a major role in the development of smoking induced bladder cancer.
More research is needed to further define the relationship between smoking and bladder cancer; however, the results of this study indicate that women who smoke or have smoked may wish to undergo more frequent screening or stop smoking. Women concerned with screening for this disease or who may be interested in smoking cessation programs are urged to consult with their physicians for more information."
Jim Kelly wrote a thorough set of answers to his grandson's questions about smoking,which he asked for a school project. It is available to you for your use in YOUR fight against smoking. Jim's letter (.doc format).
Bill Dunn, a WebWhispers member from Pennsylvania, was recently featured in a newspaper article in Allentown, PA's The Morning Call - "Cancer Survivor, Bill Dunn, Is a Voice to Remember. A copy of this article was provided specially to "WebWhispers" by the author, Candice Williams.
Cancer Survivor, Bill Dunn, Is a Voice to Remember
Bill Dunn's goal is to spread his anti-smoking message to as many people as he can. Young people and children are included in his target audience. "I wasn't popular in school," Dunn tells students. "Smoking made me feel popular," he admits.
He finally gave up a 28-year addiction to cigarettes. As he tells the story, he was at the front door of Grand View Hospital, Sellersville, PA. The date was Sept. 8, 1986. Dunn never forgets the date. With good reason. It was the day he underwent a total laryngectomy, with a left radical neck dissection, as a result of throat cancer. The surgery took away his ability to taste and smell. Even sing. Because Dunn's physicians were also concerned that his cancer might have spread beyond his larynx, they recommended he also have the lymph nodes on the left side of his neck. Fortunately, the cancer hadn't spread, But Dunn was required to have radiation and speech therapy. Dunn needed to learned how to smell again, which he did by covering his stoma and closing one nostril and then sniffing. Still, he admits that he cannot smell well any longer. "I taught myself to make a whistling sound," he says. And he boasts that he can sing again, too. Although he admits that when he begins singing, he makes sure the audience "doesn't have rotten tomatoes. It's not as good as your normal off-key singer, but what a great feeling it gives," Dunn said.
Dunn explains that he started smoking when he was in 7th grade. "By the time I was 16, I was smoking three packs a day." Dunn, an East Greenville resident, says he was not popular in school. But smoking, he says, made him feel popular. "Look at this face," he says, as a youthful school photograph of himself appeared on the projection screen during his presentation. "Does this look like the face of a popular guy?" Explaining that his reasons for smoking were "no different" than those that cause young people today to smoke, Dunn believes "peer pressure is the number one reason kids start to smoke." "Approximately 6,000 children try smoking a cigarette each day," Dunn states. "Out of that, 3,000 of them will become regular addicted smokers. One out of three of those will die because of tobacco," he says.
Dunn says he was depressed when he first heard his new voice but has become comfortable with it. "My wife says I sound like I have a hoarse throat or bad cold. Now I am not sure if I even remember my old voice," he says. Today, Dunn is a professional motivational speaker, using his condition to preach about the dangers of smoking. While he does try to charge a fee (which he explains helps pay for his multimedia equipment, computer aids and travel expenses used in his presentations), he is quick to add that if a group can't afford to pay him, he will still appear. "Dunn has turned a tragic situation around," says Dr. Walter G. Zemel, Dunn's surgeon. The Sellersville doctor praises his patient for helping others and showing that it might be possible to regain one's voice. Dealing with people's reactions to his cancer was difficult. "At the beginning," he says, "people were afraid or did not understand. Now when that happens, I try to tell them about the hazards of tobacco." Recently, Dunn underwent additional surgery to have a Blom-Singer Low Pressure Voice Prosthesis, surgically implanted in his throat. Dunn thinks about 6,000 of these voice prosthesis are implanted yearly. This device, according to Dunn, diverts air from his lungs into his esophagus and brings the air into his throat. "The American Cancer Society estimates that during 2000, 10,100 new cases of laryngeal cancer (8,100 in men and 2,000 in women) will be diagnosed and 3,900 people (3,100 men and 800 women) will die of this disease."
Dunn worked for years at the Pillsbury plant in East Greenville until the plant shut down. It was at the advice of his neighbor, Betty Hildenbrand, now a retired school nurse in the Upper Perkiomen School District, that Dunn began to consider a new career. Hildenbrand thought it would be valuable for students to meet Dunn, so she invited him to speak to health classes. "One of the things I noticed as a school nurse is that students are taught not to stare," she says. Explaining that when students see someone who has undergone the kind of cancer surgery that Dunn has, which in his case required lymph nodes be removed, it does make one side of a person's neck thinner. "Bill came into our health classes and spoke for an hour and allowed students to stare the entire time. We felt that it was really important for them to stare and ask questions," Hildenbrand says. Soon Dunn was receiving weekly requests for speaking engagements from schools as well as community groups. He began to realize that he could make a difference. He could become a voice that people remembered.
Dunn decided to design a blue jacket that would symbolize his message. He now wears the jacket all around town. People feel comfortable coming up to him and asking him about his jacket's message. He believes he has gotten a number of speaking engagements because of the jacket's visibility and message. And by sharing his story with others every chance he gets, Dunn estimates that he has spoken to more than 125,000 people of all ages. Dunn says he doesn't lecture students to stop puffing. Rather, he emphasizes that each person has to make his own decision. "But, if young people make the wrong decision and decide to smoke, they may end up like myself," he said. "I feel I am most effective with fourth-graders and up," he said. "I don't want to scare kids. And I don't stand up there and tell them not to smoke," he says. Dunn challenges older audience members to ask themselves if they are doing everything they can to keep tobacco from children. To get his point across, Dunn has created a multimedia presentation that incorporates humor, including some personal jibes, anti-tobacco statistics and informative photographs.
Not surprisingly, Dunn's presentation can hit home. An 11th-grader from Pottstown recently wrote Dunn that she was touched by his talk which came just after her grandfather underwent cancer surgery. The student wrote that Dunn had inspired her and that he was a "walking angel." The evening he spoke before the Quakertown Rotary Club, Dunn was accompanied by Marianne Peereboom-Kooijman, also a laryngectomee survivor. This was the second consecutive year Peereboom-Kooijman has been able to spend time with the Dunn family. A resident of the Netherlands, she and Dunn met while both were participants in an international European symposium. They became instant friends. "I had a growth on my vocal cords that required surgery. I never smoked," Peereboom-Kooijman says. Rotary Club program director, Timothy Ruth, who introduced Dunn and Peereboom-Kooijman, says that a number of the club's members had expressed an interested in having Dunn speak. "Many of our members have school-aged children," Ruth says. "It is a great opportunity to hear about the dangers of smoking. Considering what Bill has gone through, I think his voice sounds terrific," he says. "After a short time of listening to Bill, you understand that he is able to communicate very well. Of course, it is not a polished 'radio announcer' voice, but Bill does a wonderful job with inflection and overcoming any deficiencies he might have in tone."
Dunn, a board member of the Upper Perkiomen Chapter of the American Cancer Society, is also a member of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Pennsylvania and a past board member of the International Association of Laryngectomees. "Knowing that I am making a difference gives me strength to keep going," he says. "My goal for the next decade is for every student to know what a laryngectomy is and why." Despite undergoing the laryngectomy, despite his anti-smoking advocacy, Dunn has one chilling admission that reveals as much about his condition as any. "I still crave a cigarette at times."
Informational Web Sites
All of these sites have much more information than what is indicated so look for the type of material you want. Check out the numerous links to other smoking related sites.
Tobacco Free India Campaign
American Nonsmoking Rights Foundations - publications for sale or free. Check out the "Youth" section.
A variety of tobacco related articles
"Smoking Stinks" - looks at smoking from a young adult's perspective.
The truth about Tobacco - The complete text of a new anti-tobacco program for schools by Patrick Reynolds
Initiatives on fighting the tobacco problem
Sponsored by the American Lung Association. - Background material
Sponsored by the Canadian Lung Association. - Again lots of reading material
Good information presented especially for children and teachers
Educational materials: what youth should know about tobacco, guidelines for school health programs, facts on sports and smoking.
From Why Should I...to...How To Quit
Resource center for smokers.
Good data base to find meetings to help you quit.
Numerous articles and quit smoking products.
Tobacco Free Life site had resources the help top smoking.
Smoking Awareness Educators
The following are volunteers who will be willing to help you get started with a program in your area. Some of their hints follow the list, which is alphabetical by state.
Dan Weber, Northern AZ, firstname.lastname@example.org
Debi Austin, Canoga Park, CA email@example.com
John Nguyen, Orange County, CA firstname.lastname@example.org
(John is an ACS Volunteer & the team leader of Teens Kick Ash in Orange County)
Gary & Janet Miner, Jacksonville, NC email@example.com
Jim Kelly, San Bruno, CA KiskaKelly@aol.com
Robert Herbst Jr., New Haven, CT firstname.lastname@example.org
Carl Strand Jr., Mystic, CT email@example.com
Pat Nash, Denver, CO firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Mallon, Bonita Springs, FL email@example.com
Jim Blichmann, Shawnee, KS firstname.lastname@example.org
Herb Simon, Silver Spring, MD H457@aol.com
Irwin Title, Silver Spring, MD email@example.com
Thomas Cleveland, Kalamazoo, MI firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom's Web Site is: http://truthabouttobacco.org
Marlene E. Snider, St. Louis, MO Marlene@tobacco-kills.org
Stan F. Huffner, Cincinnati, OH email@example.com
Ron Gillette, Charleston, SC, firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Green Kubela, Monterrey, Mexico email@example.com
WW Policy Regarding Tobacco-Related Emails on the Lists
Many Emails dealing with "SMOKING" may well be of interest to some of our members, but we would appreciate keeping the Emails related to pro-smoking, anti-smoking, what did or did not cause our cancer, who is to blame, why the government is "evil", why "big tobacco" is "evil", how the tobacco firms are trying to improve their "product, how it is our "right" to smoke, if we wish, etc., to individual, PRIVATE messages rather than sending them to the WW group since we are a list devoted PRIMARILY, by design & choice, to laryngectomee rehabilitation, NOT to debating or arguing, ad nauseum and ad infinitum, the "tobacco issue."
Years of experience has taught us that "Smoking" Emails on this list fall into one of two main categories: (1) preaching to the choir or (2) expressing"opinions" or "attitudes" that just make people angry or hostile. Neither category really impacts on "laryngectomy rehabilitation." We have either" been there and done that" or not. And, with over 1,500 members, we all have our own strongly held beliefs and opinions ... on all sides of this very divisive issue.
Thus, the WW leadership AND membership, almost from DAY ONE, has concluded that such discussions are, more often than not, counterproductiveon on this List and tend to generate a lot HEAT, a lot of BAD feelings, but very little LIGHT.
This does not mean that those members with strong feelings, on any side, are not welcome to pursue their agendas. They ARE, but just NOT HERE! This List is simply NOT the proper nor the welcome/appropriate "political forum."
Those interested in debating or tackling "smoking issues" can, at a bare minimum, use this Volunteer Section where they can find many lists, bulletin boards, etc., devoted to that subject and can join them, if they wish, OR use the WebWhispers Forum where there is a special section set up for that specific topic.
We would like to keep this organization focused on "rehabilitation" or on "how to live successfully as a laryngectomee" ... two very challenging tasks in themselves - without getting bogged down or entangled in the never-ending "politics of tobacco."
We thank you all for your continued understanding in this regard.
WW Founder, Dutch Helms
For suggestions, contributions, corrections or questions about this section, please contact: