After being diagnosed with Colon/Rectal cancer, David Copley was given only 18 months to live, but four years later he is cancer free and says he owes his life to quitting cigarettes. “When I was smoking I didn’t think it affected my health, but four years after giving up I was told by the doctors that I had Bowel Cancer and that my smoking could have had a lot to do with it,” David said. “My diagnosis was not good. I was told I was on limited time. But four years later I am still here. “I strongly believe though that if I didn’t give up smokes when I did, I would be dead by now.” David, 60 of Aldinga Beach is a Southern Elder of Kaurna and Peramangk decent. He smoked for more than 30 years and said he started smoking at age 11 to be accepted as one of the “cool kids”. “Everyone in our community smoked. I got to stay up later at night because I would run around with the box of matches to light everyone’s cigarettes,” he said. “Everyone in the family smoked and if you didn’t smoke you weren’t in with the cool people. “I used smoking as a bit of crutch. As a teenager, it took you away from all of the problems you had.” Today, David is healthy and passionate about educating young people in the community to not follow the same path he did. Currently he heads up Cancer Council SA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Prevention Team as its Coordinator. “The young ones need to know that man-made tobacco is not part of our culture. You are smoking rat poison, ajax, petrol and many other poisons,” he said. “The health problems from tobacco use are massive. They include lung and brain cancers, cardiac and diabetes problems and its use is cutting our people’s life expectancy dramatically.” “It is important that the generations that follow us don’t smoke and avoid the massive health problems that we and previous generations have suffered from tobacco.” David’s advice for those wanting to quit is to persevere and get the support they need from doctors, health workers, family and the awesome staff and the Quitline. “Tobacco is an addictive drug. It is more addictive than heroin. It took me 10 attempts before I was finally able to quit,” he said. “It’s not a shame job if it doesn’t work the first time, because with each new attempt you will get better at quitting and each attempt improves your health that little bit more.”
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