ON THE JOB: Krystie Fenton
Q: Nov. 15 is the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smoke Out. Why is this important?
A: It is a set date that anyone who smokes and who has thought of quitting smoking could dedicate as their start date to better health. It gives them the start or push they may need to get them going, and allows them to see that they aren’t alone in the struggle. There are more people out there just like them that are striving to achieve success in quitting. It is also a day when communities, health care facilities and organizations come together to provide the support, education and knowledge that could be used to assist a smoker in finding the means and methods to quit.
Q: In what ways do you see smoking impact your patients’ health?
A: I frequently see patients within the institution who have been affected by smoking, both directly and indirectly. Smokers often will present various lung or breathing issues, infections and chronic problems associated with smoking. Often they are slower to heal or overcome illnesses because their lungs and body are so battered from the damage related to smoking.
Cancer is certainly something I frequently see, and is the population of patients I generally visit with and navigate. But it isn’t just the smoker that is affected. Family members and the general public, who are in the environment where there is second hand smoke, also present similar problems, and sometimes with cancer. It’s a problem that affects more than just the person smoking, but all those around them.
Q: How soon do patients see the benefits of quitting?
A: The benefits of quitting smoking are immediate. The body is a resilient machine, and begins to repair itself after the last cigarette smoked. Within 20 minutes, a smoker’s heart rate and blood pressure drop to levels close to that before the last cigarette. And the repair continues daily. The risks smokers were at while they smoked become less each day. Some of these risks include various cancers, heart and lung disease and stroke.
Q: What is a common first step to quitting smoking?
A: The first step to quitting smoking is finally making the decision to do so. Finding the resources and help within the community to help a smoker be successful in quitting is key.
About Krystie Fenton:
OCCUPATION: Oncology nurse navigator
COMPANY: Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital
ADDRESS: 11920 Astoria Blvd., Houston, 77089
EDUCATION: Bachelor of science in nursing, registered nurse, OCN