Lisa's Story gets high profile!
A 30 second TV ad can't do justice to Lisa's story of courage and survival. What follows is the written testimony Lisa Christia filed with the Senate Executive Committee earlier this month in support of Smoke Free Illinois. Read Lisa's story, and understand the risks and dangers of secondhand smoke:
LISA CRISTIA, CANCER SURVIVOR
AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY VOLUNTEER
March 7, 2007
Hi, my name is Lisa Cristia and I live in Chicago. I’m grateful for the opportunity to tell you my story and let you know that secondhand smoke isn’t just a petty annoyance. It’s killing people and causing incredible pain.
Here’s my story. For the first 10 years of my adult life, right after high school, I worked in six different bars and restaurants…as a server, a waitress, a coat check and a bartender. My health problems first developed in my late-20s when I started to develop chronic respiratory difficulties that caused me to regularly miss work.
In my early 30’s, I was diagnosed with stage 3 tongue and throat cancer. My doctor called it “smoker’s cancer” with one key exception: I didn’t smoke. To make a long and painful story short, I had nearly half of my tongue removed, 23 lymph nodes taken out of my neck, and a tracheotomy. Doctors rebuilt my tongue using skin from my leg.
To survive, I had to relearn how to speak, how to breathe, how to eat, and how to cope. I was on morphine for 4 months just to ease the pain. Not only did I have to overcome addictions to the drug, I had to declare bankruptcy – just last month – because I couldn’t pay the bills. And I had insurance – I just couldn’t keep up with them while I was undergoing treatment.
Today, it’s not easy for me to talk. I really can’t taste food or chew well, and the left side of my face is numb. You can see that this huge scar extends from my ear to my chin. People often look at me wondering what happened to me. Who brutalized me.
Senator Jones and other members of the Executive Committee, I’m a victim of secondhand smoke. I am a victim of the occupational hazard of the dangers of working in the hospitality industry. And I’m here today representing the many people who you can’t see. Just to underscore a point I made earlier – I’ve never smoked in my life…at least my own cigarettes. For years I inhaled secondhand smoke from everyone else’s cigarettes.
Thankfully, I’m alive to tell my story. I’m here because I don’t want others to have to deal with this pain. It’s why I spoke up when I heard about this bill.
For the record, I’d like to submit this letter from my doctor that validates my condition.
I encourage you to do the right thing and to go the distance in getting this law passed. Let’s stop the pain and suffering.