Middle and high school students from across the state gathered Monday through Wednesday this week at the Woodlands Resort and Conference says attending “Say What?” which stands for “Students, Adults and Youth Working Hard Against Tobacco.”  It is funded by the Texas Department of State Health Services through a contract with the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University.  One of the high-lights this year was a woman named Rose.

Rose is from Victoria, Texas, and began smoking when she was 13.  It quickly evolved into a lifelong two-pack a day habit that caused the veins in one of her legs to constrict to the point that amputation was considered when she was 58.  During her pre-op examination, doctors found lung cancer in a chest x-ray.

Surgeons removed half of a lung and initiated chemotherapy and radiation.  Complications led to an extended hospital stay and an extremely painful stomach tube.

“I was in remission for three months when I started having headaches, and started noticing that my right side wouldn’t do what I was telling it to do,” Rose tells KTRH News.

She told her doctors and an MRI was ordered.

“I found out I had two tumors that had spread to my brain.  I had surgery for that.  Now I’m in remission.”

But there are lingering effects.  She has lost a lot of hearing and may require a hearing aid.  Rose also needs 24 hour home health care because she continues to be unstable on her feet. 

And when she can, she advises young people. 

“I tell them that smoking is not worth it.  If they smoke, to find a support team.  And if they don’t smoke, not to pick it up.