16 May Christine’s Story: The Power of the Narrative
This blog post was written by Nicole Crawford, GillespieHall’s American Lung Association Account Executive.
I met Christine Brader at an event in Harrisburg, Pa. The American Lung Association was sponsoring Advocacy Day, a legislative push for every single Pennsylvanian to be protected from secondhand smoke. Ms. Brader was quiet and unassuming. She was small in size, but full of an all-encompassing grace. Most of her jaw was missing, but she kept a smile on her face the entire time. “I almost left my children orphans,” she said.
Christine was a survivor of oral cancer. Now a CDC spokesperson for its tobacco prevention and control campaign, she spoke of her journey with humility. “I’m very, very happy to be alive and talking to you today, because not so long ago, I wasn’t sure how much longer I’d be alive,” she said before describing surgery that left half of her jaw gone and an intense, lengthy recovery after a third diagnosis of cancer. She had been a smoker most of her life. At the close of her speech, everyone stood with applause.
High school students were among the backdrop with huge signs that read “Clean Indoor Air. No Exemptions,” and legislators spoke on clean indoor air with drive and passion, but no one left more of an impact on Advocacy Day than Christine Brader. She was the personal story behind the cause.
Christine Brader, with GH's Nicole Crawford (ALA Account Executive) and Clara Swanson (ALA/Healthy Air Social Media Behaviorist)