Deb Wells was caught by surprise when she suffered a stroke in 1998 while on a business trip with her husband in Maui. Seven years after the stroke, she was finally diagnosed with sick sinus syndrome, and has since had two pacemakers implanted. Deb is grateful every day to be alive and shares her personal story often as a You’re the Cure advocate.
Tobacco cessation is a personal issue for Deb. Her parents came from a generation "where everyone smoked everywhere." Subsequently, both were smokers and Deb was exposed daily - even in their family-run restaurant where patrons and employees smoked freely.
Growing up in rural Illinois, Deb had an understanding of the harmful effects of tobacco and always had a strong aversion to it. However, it was not until she went college and was in a smoke-free dorm that she realized the stark difference between life at home. On visits home she was reminded of the stifling air and it was disturbing to see her parents addicted and dependent on their cigarettes. These became more difficult as Deb struggled with the constant exposure to cigarette smoke.
In August 1990, Deb received word that her mother was in the hospital with Stage 4 lung cancer. Just five weeks after diagnosis, she passed away. Deb was 35, her mother just 55. One life cut short and the other left to move on without her "best friend" and greatest support. Her Grandfather died from emphysema in 1986, her father in 1989 at age 54 from kidney & liver cancer associated with smoking, and her brother also died of lung cancer in 2004 at age 44. In less than 20 years, smoking took four members of her immediate family.
Deb recently testified before the DC Council in support of B22-460, The Smoking Cessation Fund Amendment Act of 2017. Join her in letting Councilmembers know that you'd like to see "thousands of DC residents kick their addiction, quit smoking, and live a healthy, smoke-free life" by increasing the District's cigarette tax.