Don Young describes his experiences with tobacco. Tobacco caused many health problems in Don’s life, and he is now devoted to sharing those experiences with young people across the country, through the not-for-profit organization, Young Choices, Inc.
“It was really gross and the pictures were just really gross,” said Hayden High School Junior Lauren Frost. She sat among her classmates Monday as Don Young shared his story.
“I didn’t have that type of education in school. They need to be told the effects of what tobacco does and that not everyone is going to get cancer but some people will,” said Young, who started smoking at fourteen years old.
Tobacco has taken its toll. Doctors removed his cancer riddled voice box, leaving him speechless. Then he underwent a 19 hour surgery to remove part of his neck and entire esophagus.
“When my throat blew out they said they lost me on the table so I’ve been given a second chance.”
Young used that second chance Monday to educate Hayden High School students.
The American Cancer Society estimates nine out of ten current smokers started using tobacco when they were teens.
Currently in Kansas, 21 percent of teens report smoking cigarettes.
“I don’t want to do that now especially seeing all that stuff on the projector,” said Junior Rick Rineburg.
“I think a lot of people are going to be talking about how gross this was when we go back to class,” said Frost.
“I know I’m not going to stop everyone from smoking or drinking or doing any other drugs but I think some of them will take this to heart and not do it because they see me and the reality of it and I believe that or I wouldn’t be doing this,” said Young.