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Why I Fight: Marie Hepp

This is my first memory of grieving the loss of my grandpa, a visual of our family carrying for him. I drew it as a nursing student in 1992 for a homework assignment.

The 1st loved one I lost to smoking and cancer was my Paternal Grandpa. I was just one month shy of my 5th birthday…much too young to lose anyone (not that any age is good).

I was involved in his care in visiting him daily, sit with him, sing/dance for him if he was “up” for it, make cards for him, and bring flowers to him. My role was continuing to be his loving and only granddaughter. I tended to him by helping my grandma – whether bringing him a drink of water, cup of homemade pastina soup, etc.

How did this involvement affect my daily life?  I loved him and wanted to be with him but understood he was very sick. I wish he had more physical energy to do things other than stay in his home as his illness progressed. He and I loved to garden together. He’d walk with me between the rows of planted vegetables/etc. in his backyard (we lived next door to them), and we’d sample the “fruits” of his labor of love with the garden hose to wash off a tomato or pole bean and he’d pull out the salt shaker from his pocket and sprinkle on the item we’d eat standing outside 😉 TREASURED memories of he and I…and that was stolen from the deadly effects of tobacco shortly thereafter :/

I lost my grandpa (and my mother’s father died before I was born also to lung cancer before the age of 60). I miss my Grandpa and there is a void in my heart that only he could fill—we had a special bond of understanding and unconditional love. My life has changed in that I’ve met “surrogate” grandpa’s throughout my life but never had the real joy of furthering my memories and bonds with my grandfathers as they paid monies to smoke and then paid with their lives — that truly has affected me to this day.

What “tip” would I offer to smokers so this doesn’t happen to them and their loved ones? I’d first say that “In talking about tobacco cessation, I want to love on you because I care and I’m not here to lecture to you or ‘whop you upside the head’”…YOU are smarter than the deadly deceit of nicotine addiction—don’t pay the ultimate price of your health or life. God created one and only you in a wonderful way. You only have ONE life and body—if you use tobacco get free help NOW to break the addiction and give yourself and your loved ones the greatest gift –the gift of your life and in its healthiest form possible.

I am passionate due to being deeply affected by the loss of both grandfathers in their 50’s due to lung cancer, an uncle dying in his 50’s of a heart attack, and many more. As a result of my losses, I became a nurse, worked in hospice for 14+ years, and became an Nurse Practitioner and have been striving to educate all about the deadly effects of tobacco, smoking, nicotine addiction, e-cigs, orbs, etc. and the thousands of toxic chemicals.

I’ve been trained as a QSN (Quit Smoking Now) and TTQ (Tools to Quit) facilitator for our Everglades Area Health Education Center (EAHEC) and will not accept any monies (and EAHEC knows this) for my facilitating whether on work time or on my own time….they have limited funds which mostly pay for the NRT products and it’s my passion to help them quit a devastating addiction… I don’t “lecture” on the deadliest of addictions and the one that is legal and guaranteed if you follow the instructions to create serious illness or death; I “love” on them and let them know that I truly care and that THEY ARE SMARTER than the deception that nicotine tricks their brain into craving.

I was an older teen social smoker around friends. I have damaged vocal chords from singing in nightclubs in the 70’s when the smoke was flowing freely on the stage/dance floor. I remember the 1st time I heard smoking could be harmful to your life/health and thought “they’d never sell something on the market that could be harmful!…or would they?”  The innocence of youth :/

I can’t get back the loved ones that I lost but if I can help others not lose any more loved ones because of smoking, then I’ve achieved a wonderful goal and hopefully can make the world a little bit healthier.

I have often wondered about how our family would be today if my grandpa hadn’t died young. My spiritual belief and trust in God has allowed me to rise above situations beyond my control from this first experience to many throughout my life. I never had my grandpa for any of my major life events, he never met the love of my life or his beautiful granddaughters and their military husbands. His void is like a war bomb that was detonated so many years ago and the lasting deadly effects can never bring him back. Our soldiers are fighting for freedom; we need to fight for freedom from deadly addiction and diseases due to tobacco use.