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ADVOCACY DAY SPEECH Speech - Christine Brader, CDC spokesperson and features in recent anti-tobacco commercials State Representative Tony Payton, Jr. (D-Philadelphia) Hello. Thank you all for coming today. My name is Christine Brader I want to tell you my story. But first – spoiler alert! – I’m going to jump ahead to the end of my story, being here today. I’m very, very happy to be alive and talking to all of you today about the vital importance of enacting comprehensive clean indoor air legislation to prohibit smoking in all indoor workplaces and public places. This legislation will protect people from the dangers of secondhand smoke and will help countless others quit cigarettes completely. I said that I’m very, very happy to be alive and talking to you today, because not so long ago, I wasn’t sure how much longer I’d be alive. Cigarettes almost killed me. I started smoking in high school, when I was 16. Back then, I thought smoking was cool. All the cool kids smoked, so I did too. As I got older, I thought about the dangers of smoking, but nothing had happened to me yet. And besides, I was hooked. Nicotine is addictive and I was addicted to cigarettes. I ended up smoking for 28 years. Then, in 2007, I discovered a small sore inside my cheek. I saw my doctor, who sent me to an oral surgeon, who did a biopsy of what I thought was only a canker sore, and the biopsy revealed oral cancer. After undergoing chemo and 35 radiation treatments, it took me months to recover. My doctors told me I was cured. My teeth were ruined by the radiation so I had them removed to get dentures. But instead, in 2008, the cancer returned. Surgery was my only option. In 2009, I had my third bout with cancer. This time it was much more serious. I was told to get my affairs in order as it was Stage IV. I endured a 10-hour surgery and lost half of my jaw. I spent 3 weeks in a medically induced coma and 2 months in the hospital. The recovery took me a year and several surgeries. Today, I’m missing a quarter of my face. People stare at me all the time. I decided to turn a negative into a positive and do whatever I can to serve as a role model in the battle against cigarettes and tobacco. I’ve been smoke-free for five years now. Recently, the CDC asked me to record a few public service ads to share my story and hopefully, get people to give up cigarettes. I was happy to play a part in the Tips From Former Smokers campaign. The public needs to be aware of the dangers of smoking. Sometimes cigarettes don’t just kill you. All too often a smoker or someone affected by secondhand smoke can be left with life-long medical problems. I’ve learned a lot about cigarettes and tobacco through my illness. I’ve learned that secondhand smoke is just as dangerous and deadly to nonsmokers as cigarettes are to smokers. I know I did this to myself and now I have to live with the consequences. Today, there are thousands of workers in Pennsylvania who are putting their health in danger simply by showing up to work. And so I ask each and every one of you to do the right thing and keep up the fight to put an end to all of the exemptions to the comprehensive clean indoor air act. PLEASE help to protect all of Pennsylvania’s workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Thank you.
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