Seeing is Believing

Marie Wilkins sharing her story next to the Smoker's Body

Marie Wilkins sharing her story next to the Smoker’s Body

November 21, 2013 marked the American Cancer Society’s 38th annual Great American Smokeout, a day to encourage smokers to quit.  This year, the NYC Coalition partnered with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) held an event to celebrate the occasion at BODY WORLDS: Pulse, an exhibition that displays preserved human bodies and reveals inner anatomical structures.  Throughout November 2013, BODY WORLDS will have a free display in the main lobby of the lungs of a smoker and non-smoker side-by-side.

Body Worlds staff with Michele Bonan, ACS CAN; Marie Wilkins, and Sheelah Feinberg, the Coalition

Body Worlds staff with Michele Bonan, ACS CAN; Marie Wilkins; and Sheelah Feinberg, the Coalition

I welcomed visitors while standing next to the Smoker’s Body, which shows how smoking damages the body. The lungs, blackened by years of smoking, can be seen through the interstices of the ribs.

During the event, Marie Wilkins, a former smoker, told her story, which reminded everyone that tobacco use is not only the leading cause of preventable death, but can also greatly affect your life.  Marie, a smoker for 40 years, began smoking in high school. After years of attempting to unsuccessfully quit, she was diagnosed with Buerger’s disease, a disorder linked to tobacco use. Over time, parts of Marie’s body, such as her feet, fingertips and lower legs, required amputation.

The Smoker's Body

The Smoker’s Body

“There was no way that I would have known that at 42, they were going to amputate my leg,” said Marie Wilkins. “That’s the chance you take when you smoke cigarettes and get addicted.”

The BODY WORLDS exhibit shows you what tobacco-related disease looks like.  Marie told us what it feels like.  Marie concluded, “Maybe my experience will make people stop and think before they light up.”

Across the rest of the City, our Borough Smoke-Free Partnerships also held special Great American Smokeout events.

This holiday season, we hope people will heed Marie’s advice and make a plan to quit smoking for good.

Staten Island Smoke-Free Partnership with ASSIST Tobacco Cessation Center staff and volunteer, along with staff members from HealthPlus, Community Health Center of Richmond and Reality Check.

Staten Island Smoke-Free Partnership with ASSIST Tobacco Cessation Center staff and volunteer, along with staff members from HealthPlus, Community Health Center of Richmond and Reality Check.

Brooklyn Smoke-Free Partnership at YWCA.

Brooklyn Smoke-Free Partnership at the Brooklyn YWCA.

Bronx Smoke-Free Partnership at Montefiore Medical Center.

Bronx Smoke-Free Partnership at Montefiore Medical Center.

Queens Smoke-Free Partnership and community partners at a smoke-free housing info session.

Queens Smoke-Free Partnership and community partners at a smoke-free housing info session.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender  Community Center, our Manhattan community partner, talking with a smoker at Callen Lorde Community Health Center

Anna King, Brooklyn YWCA resident, with the last pack of cigarettes she bought in 1986

Anna King, Brooklyn YWCA resident, with the last pack of cigarettes she bought in 1986

Tiffany Rivera from Manhattan Smoke-Free Partnership talking with students about tobacco marketing

Tiffany Rivera from Manhattan Smoke-Free Partnership talking with students about tobacco marketing