Woman encourages others to quit smoking after losing father and several family members to lung cancer


There is nothing like the bond between a father and his daughter.

“He was my world,” said Debbie Gilmore. “He was a police officer, and basically he did everything for me and with me.”

“So he left a lot and he worked a lot of hard hours, but he always took the time to be with me, like at 11 p.m. when I arrived, or 10 p.m. when The Tonight Show was broadcast, and I would come down and say, ‘Daddy, I really needed to talk,’ “she recalls. “And we didn’t have a break, so I was talking to him during the show and then, you know. So that was the kind of father he was, very involved.

“He called me in December and he said, ‘Hey, Debbie.’ He said, ‘Guess what? I’m losing all kinds of weight and it’s great and my pants fall off, ”she recalls. “And he trained, he exercised and did a lot of things like that. And he called me up and said this to me, when I said, ‘Daddy.’ I said, ‘That doesn’t sound good.’ I said, ‘Have you been to the doctor?’ And he’s like, no. He says: ‘This is great. I don’t want this to stop. Well a few weeks later he called me back and he said, “Deb, they found out I had a tumor in my lung. And I said, ‘What’s going on?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know, I’m going to go check it out.’ “

Debbie’s father was diagnosed with lung cancer. On April 3, 2001, three months after being diagnosed, he passed away.


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“At the end of March, he called and he said, ‘You know, I think it’s time for you to start coming home,’” Debbie said. “And so I got on a plane, and I called him when I got to Chicago, because you can’t go straight to Kansas City. So I called him when I got to Chicago and I said, “Hey, daddy. I’m almost home ‘. And he said, ‘Oh good, Debbie.’ He said, ‘I can’t wait to see you.’ They had taken him back to the hospital. And so we walked into the hospital and that night when I walked in, I walked in and he didn’t recognize me. So I was glad I had that last little conversation. “

“We see a lot of lung cancer here in Waco,” said Dr. Matt Pattillo, pulmonologist at Ascension Providence. “Most of the lung cancers we see are linked to smoking. I would say roughly, probably 80% of the cases we see are linked to smoking.”

“The reason lung cancer is the deadliest cancer is that you don’t really have symptoms until it has progressed far enough,” he continued.

Debbie’s father isn’t the only member of her family to suffer from cancer. Her two grandfathers, her grandmother and her cousin contracted lung or throat cancer. They were all smokers.

“How does it feel, you know, to see all these family members suffering from lung cancer?” Are you worried about moving forward? Asked reporter Sydney Isenberg.

“It’s always in my head,” Debbie replied. “I quit smoking because, like I said, when my, my grandmother found out that she had lung cancer, my dad quit smoking and that’s when I started. Great, huh? And so I started smoking, and I smoked a lot. I mean like three packs a day. And I smoked for 20, 30 years. And finally, in 2009, I quit smoking, and haven’t looked back since. “

“I have several long-smoker patients who have quit, you know, over the past two years, every time, who have resumed smoking during the pandemic,” Dr. Pattillo said.

“The pandemic brought up a lot of anxiety and mental health issues that were probably below the surface that weren’t quite evident yet, and a pandemic really exposed them,” he continued. “And smoking sort of showed up in some of these patients that I saw because of their stress levels, and smoking helps reduce those levels.

“There are chemicals in electronic cigarettes that have the potential to cause cancer,” said Dr. Pattillo. “They are generally considered to be less, what we would call, carcinogens than a combustible cigarette or nicotine that actually smokes tobacco, but the risk is there. And I can’t say that there is no risk of it. lung cancer with e-cigarettes, but I think it is, everyone would agree that there is probably less risk of lung cancer with an e-cigarette than with a real cigarette. “

“The FDA did well to say listen, we approve of this, but we don’t tolerate this,” he explained. “We’re not saying… it’s like it’s legal to sell cigarettes in America and the FDA is allowing that to happen. This, that, is what they say with these e-cigarettes. They don’t. not say, Hey, that’s it for sure. Everybody started doing it. This is FDA approved. It is FDA approved to market and sell these products, but it is not approved to be healthy or a safe alternative to not smoking.

“I realized how much time I was wasting smoking,” Debbie said. “I mean, it was like I was smoking a cigarette, just putting out one, thinking about the next one. And my whole life was spent having a cigarette.”

Debbie is proud of her decision to quit cigarettes. Even 20 years after losing her father to lung cancer, she knows he would be proud too.

“Do you think if he was here he would be proud if you ended up resigning?” Isenberg asked.

“Okay. Ah, I hope so. I think he would be, yes,” Debbie replied.

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November marks Lung Cancer Awareness Month. If you need help quitting smoking, click here for tips and resources.


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