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    Sometimes it is Good to be a Tattletale

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | November 14th, 2021

    Sometimes it is Good to be a Tattletale

    I remember how angry I was when my sister reported me to my mother. I was about 12 years old and my sister was 6 years old. She told my mother that she saw me hanging out with my best friend in the neighborhood and that my best friend was smoking cigarettes. My mother told me that I could no longer hang out with her. I was so angry at my tattle-tailing sister. I was so upset at my mother and of course,  my father joined the chorus. I was forbidden to talk to my best friend. During those days, I referred to her as my homeslice. Unfortunately, my homeslice went from smoking cigarettes to using drugs, became a teen mom, and died prematurely. I connected with her when we became adults and one of the last things I remembered her saying – “You are so lucky you never smoked those f** cigarettes”.

    November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and COPD Awareness Month. COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.   Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of women and men in the U.S.  COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, affects millions of Americans and is the third leading cause of disease-related death in the U.S. You do not have to be a smoker to get lung cancer or COPD, however, smoking poses the greatest risk to developing either lung cancer or COPD.

    I was stunned when I went on the American Lung Association website and read the following:

    • Every day, almost 2,500 children under 18 years of age try their first cigarette, and more than 400 of them will become new, regular daily smokers. Half of them will ultimately die from their habit.
    • People who start smoking at an early age are more likely to develop a severe addiction to nicotine than those who start at a later age. Of adolescents who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, most of them report that they would like to quit, but are not able to do so.
    • If current tobacco use patterns persist, an estimated 5.6 million of today’s youth under age 18 eventually will die prematurely from a smoking-related disease.

    It is so important to make sure that our young people do not start smoking and if they do start, we need to do all that we can to get them to quit. We all need to be a tattletale. Click  Helping Teens Quit to make a difference in a young person’s life.

    For those of you who are trying to quit, consider calling 1-800-LUNG USA. You can click here for TOP TIPS for Quitting Smoking. You can quit.

    If you have a friend or a family member that smokes, you can help. Please click, Help Someone Quit. According to the American Lung Association, quitting smoking is the single most important step a smoker can take to improve the length and quality of their life.

    2 Responses to “Sometimes it is Good to be a Tattletale”

    1. Linda K. Jackson says:

      I always tell the (true) story of trying to smoke once, being (poorly) encouraged by a friend. My lungs felt like they were literally on fire, and my friend told me that I “didn’t do it right”! I told her that if I kept trying until I got it right, I wouldn’t have any lungs left! Once, and I was done!

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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.

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