by Tom Davis
|One day in January in Hula Hula, an old
fisherman walked merrily up the hill by the house of the
Health Promoter, Raffaella. He was smoking a cigarette.
Raffaella remembered her own father’s painful death
from cancer due to his smoking, and she resolved to do
something about it in her community. Raffaella talked
to the old fisherman from her yard for a while and then
told him that he really should stop smoking because it
could give him cancer. The old fisherman said, "I'll
never get cancer. The people in my family are very hardy
and healthy." So Raffaella explained to him how anyone
who smokes has a higher risk of getting cancer.
In February, the old fisherman walked by Raffaella’s house again. Raffaella
saw that he was still smoking and mentioned to him that
he could get emphysema from smoking, too. The old fisherman
laughed and said, "Well, I don't even know what
emphysema is, but I'm sure it won't be anything that
I can't handle even if I do get it." So Raffaella
explained to him what a terrible disease emphysema is.
Raffaella realized that she needed to do more than just talk
to the fisherman if she wanted to do something about cancer.
She worked with the local community leaders to create and
display several posters in local gathering places that pointed
out the health hazards of smoking. She was also successful
in getting community leaders to agree to not allow smoking
during official community meetings.
March came and the old fisherman came puffing up the hill
and puffed a `hello' to Raffaella. Raffaella asked him if
the cancer had set in yet. The old fisherman said, "I
don't have it yet, but if I'm supposed to get it, I'm sure
I will whether or not I quit smoking. I've smoked all my life!"
So Raffaella explained to him how quitting smoking at any
age could make him live longer.
In April, the old man slowly walked up the hill, coughing
and hacking. He knew Raffaella was going to ask him, so he
called out before she could ask, "No I haven't stopped
smoking, but I want to. And I did try! It's just too hard!"
So Raffaella explained to him some ways to stop smoking more
In May, the old man took forever to get up the hill since
he was breathing like a mule loaded with salt. Raffaella asked
him, "Are you still smoking?" and he said, "Well,
I finally gave them up on Wednesday . . . but over the weekend
I forgot that I wasn't smoking anymore, saw a pack on the
table and lit one up! I just can't remember that I don't smoke!
So Raffaella explained
to him that he should get rid of all the cigarettes and ashtrays
to "remind him" that he doesn't smoke.
In June, the old man had to stop three times coming
up the hill since he was breathing so hard. Raffaella
said, "You STILL haven't given them up?!"
and the old man said, "Well, it would be a lot
easier if all my friends didn't smoke! Every time I
see them, it makes me start up again!" So Raffaella
explained to him that he needed to either find friends
that didn't smoke or convince his smoking friends to
give it up, too. Raffaella met with the old fisherman
and his friends and, with Raffaella’s help, they
began a support group to help each other stop smoking.
In July, the old man had to stop five times coming
up the hill. He called out to Raffaella: "Don't
tell me anything else. I know that it must be God's
will for me to smoke and die of smoking since I can't
seem to stop.” Raffaella called the old man over
for coffee, and read to him from the Bible where it
says that our bodies are temples (1 Cor 6:19-20). She
explained that it was not God's will that he die of
his habit (Isa 65:20). She agreed that he probably could
not stop on his own, though, and that he did indeed
need God's help to do it. She suggested he pray to God
for strength to quit, and for more ideas on how to do
In August, the old fisherman climbed the mountain very happily
as if he were a young man again! He called to Raffaella, "I'm
no longer a smoker and neither are my friends! I convinced
them that with the money we would save by giving up smoking,
we could form a fishing cooperative. Now, none of us are smokers.
Thanks a lot, Raffaella!! I thank God that I ran out of excuses
before I ran out of time!" The fisherman regained his
energy and died at 95 years old.