Dawn Livingston, a Nurse at Baylor Irving, has been a smoker for more than 30 years. She works with cancer patients on a regular basis. She knows the dangers of the disease, but that has not made her kick her daily habit.
"One of the doctors I worked with, he told me once he'd give me a million dollars if I quit smoking, and he knew it was a safe bet that I wasn't gonna," she said.
Livingston said she is trying to quit by New Year's Day. Her friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and motivated her to quit smoking together.
"As it gets closer I get more anxious about it. The first time I quit smoking I quit because I wanted to. And it was very easy. Now I'm quitting because I have to," she said.
Livingston said her decision to quit is also backed up by some recent test results after a new screening procedure at the hospital. For the first time, doctors at Baylor Irving can use a CT scan to check for abnormalities in the lungs. This procedure became available about six months ago and is currently being used for high risk patients.
"By using low dose CT scans we're able to screen for lung cancer and catch lung cancer at an earlier stage when it can be treated more effectively and hopefully offer a cure for the patient," said Radiologist Dr. Jay Patel.
Dr. Patel says spots on the lungs signal abnormalities and the patient must undergo a series of testing to see if they are cancerous.
Livingston's CT scans came back abnormal, meaning doctors will monitor her health closely to see if she has or develops cancer in the following months. For now she says her biggest wish this christmas is to improve her health for good.
"That my next CT, April 2nd, is better, or, at least, not worse," said Livingston.
The American Cancer Society estimates six million deaths in 2011 due to tobacco use.