The Other Side
Stong’s experience as a mother and patient advocate for her son, as a seasoned social worker who’s counseled heart disease patients and cancer patients, and as a smoker who’s battled personal crises and nicotine addiction, has greatly informed her personal and professional path forward.
She’s been at her wits’ end and come out of it on the other side in more ways than one.
“I've been there when somebody held my hand and got me into Ronald McDonald House at the very last minute, and I also know what it was like to feel angry, alone and isolated when someone wasn’t doing their job,” said Stong. “I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure that every single person that comes through the cancer center that needs me knows that they have me and that I'm not going anywhere. And I will stay with them and I will follow them until they tell me they don't want me to anymore.”
Omar continued to check in with Stong on a quarterly basis to see how she was doing with tobacco abstinence. Stong completed her treatment in August. Stong’s close-knit network of family medical therapists and social workers at the cancer center also have her back.
“I'm doing great,” said Stong. “I like to think that it's because I've got a little boy who's looking out for me. He shows me all the time that he’s around. I've started running, which keeps me motivated. You can't run if you're smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. You can't enjoy life if you’re unable to climb mountains and enjoy the beach because you can’t breathe. All my years of experience have led me right here. I need to stick around at Duke, so I can keep doing this for many more years. If I’m smoking, I can’t do that.”
While the Quit at Duke program is part of the Duke Supportive Care and Survivorship Center at Duke Cancer Institute, its tobacco treatment specialists serve any patient who uses tobacco across Duke Health. This includes 13 Duke Health sites in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina and one site in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Duke Cancer Network member Augusta Health. Find a Quit at Duke Clinic Near You.