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Siblings on Montel show to spread anti-smoking message

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http://www.longmontfyi.com/communityTC/ ... p?ID=14542

By By Susan Glairon

The Daily Times-Call

SUPERIOR — For more than three years, Cody and Gabrielle DeWitt watched their mother suffer through brain surgeries, chemotherapy and, more recently, experimental drugs.

But the experience of living with a parent who has lung cancer also motivated the brother and sister to reach out to teens and adults with a message: “Don’t smoke.”

“I don’t want others to go through what I am going through,” said Gabrielle DeWitt, 14, a freshman at Monarch High School in Louisville.

On Friday, the brother and sister will be featured on a segment of “The Montel Willams Show” titled “Paying it Forward: Teens Changing Lives.” The show was taped several weeks ago in New York City.

Producers at the talk show chose the brother and sister duo for their efforts to educate the public about the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke, the two said.

About a year ago, their mother, Susie DeWitt, 42, set up a video camera in their rooms and asked Gabrielle and Cody to talk about what her lung cancer has done to them.

The resulting video, “Lung Cancer Through the Eyes of My Children,” has been seen more than 25 million times by television and Internet viewers, Susie DeWitt said. It also has been sent to hundreds of schools nationwide.

Previously, The DeWitt family appeared on “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show” and various local news programs, which also helped spread the word.

The family receives hundreds of e-mails each day from adults and teens who have either seen the video or watched the family on television, said Cody DeWitt, 20, a junior at the University of Northern Colorado.

“We are not just sitting back and taking it. We are helping people,” he said. “It’s not just smoking; it’s second-hand smoke. (If you smoke), you affect your family and everyone who has to breathe it around you. People don’t see the bigger picture, and we are trying to get that bigger picture out to them.”

Last year, Teen People magazine named Cody DeWitt one of the top 20 teens to influence the world that year.

This year, 173,0000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer, according to the American Legacy Foundation. Cigarette smoke causes 87 percent of all cases, the foundation said.

Susie DeWitt smoked as a teen, quit during her pregnancies and had the odd cigarette as an adult. She has not had a cigarette in 10 years, she said. She was diagnosed about three years ago.

In January, three tumors turned up in Susie’s lungs and one in her brain. But the family — which also includes Susie’s husband, Randy DeWitt, 45, and daughter Gianina, 5 — received hopeful news Tuesday when a brain scan showed Susie DeWitt’s brain tumor was responding to an experimental drug and had shrunk 50 percent.

Despite the good news, Gabrielle DeWitt said she still worries about her mother’s long-term health.

“Will she see my sister graduate high school?” Gabrielle said. “Will she see me and my brother get married? That kind of scares me that she may not see it happen.

“I don’t want other families to go through what we go through and to have to think, ‘How am I going to live my life if my mom dies?’”

Susan Glairon can be contacted at 303-684-5224 or sglairon@times-call.com.

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Wish it was that easy to blame it all on smoking... I still feel for the ones that never smoked and have LC. The message is simply, don't smoke, and you won't get the disease. That's the way people think when it comes to funding research as well. The stigma lives on. The other side of the coin is that 80% of people that do smoke, don't get LC. It probably causes more heart related problems than anything. Enviroment and genetics have to fit in here somewhere.


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