Learning a Lesson Through Personal Tragedy

I was born in Hazard, Kentucky. If you don’t know where that is, it’s a smaller town in Southeastern, Kentucky. My mom and dad met there, and started a family. Shortly after I was born, we moved to Covington, Kentucky because my parents owned a business and it was a great opportunity for our family. Once in Covington, it was just Dad, Mom, Alissa (my sister), and me. The fantastic foursome! We had no family, no friends, just each other. I don’t remember much about that time because I was so little but I do remember spending a lot time back in Hazard with my relatives.  Most of my spring breaks and summers were spent in Hazard with my family because my parents were getting their business off the ground. 

Summers in Hazard were so fun! I would spend the night with my different aunts, uncles, and cousins but my favorite place to spend the night was with my Aunt Chris. She took great care of me, fixed all my favorite meals, and her son was one of my favorite cousins, so it worked out well. For as long as I can remember though, my Aunt always smoked. She would wake up, and grab her coffee and cigarettes. Before, after, and sometimes during meals, she always had a cigarette. She smoked in the house, in the car, in the bed. It didn’t matter. Smoking cigarettes was her lifestyle. 

Once I was in high school, I made the horrible decision to start smoking. A few of my friends smoked and one day, I just grabbed a cigarette and joined in. I didn’t like the way it made me feel, but I didn’t stop doing it. It was what all the cool kids were doing, so why not? I never thought about it again. I smoked all the way into my 20s including when we received a call one day saying that my favorite Aunt had lung cancer. She was diagnosed with large cell lung carcinoma in March of 2005. We were terrified. Aunt Chris underwent chemotherapy and radiation throughout the next year. It was a horrible time for our family. Watching someone you love so much go through such a horrible process was heartbreaking. Our family would travel back and forth from Covington to Hazard several times a month to visit her. In July of 2007, we found out that Aunt Chris’ cancer had spread to her liver, kidneys, and lymph nodes. She passed away in October of 2007.

After having conversations with some of her doctors, I learned what smoking does to your body. To your lungs, your heart, and your family. Had Aunt Chris stopped smoking and had a lung screening early on she could still be with us today. I learned from my Aunt’s experiences and stopped smoking. I recently went to visit my friends at The Christ Hospital and learned about a lung screening CT scan that you take that can save your life. The scan can show early signs of lung cancer. If you smoke or smoked in the past and are concerned about your lungs ask your doctor about the low dose CT scan.  

Are you a current or former smoker? Click to see if you meet the criteria for our early-detection lung screening, available at locations around the Tristate. 

​Jennifer Fritsch is part of the Jeff and Jenn Morning Show on Q102, which airs on weekdays from 5:30-10 a.m. As a new mom to daughter Penelope, Fritsch also hosts a weekly video on the Jeff and Jenn Morning Show Facebook page. In her videos, she discusses various parenting topics using #MomChatMonday. When she isn't working, Fritsch enjoys traveling, visiting new places and of course, being a mom! Fritsch is eager to share her experiences as a new mom with Healthspirations.