WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Just about everywhere Terrie Hall goes in the U.S. someone recognizes her from the national "Tips from Former Smokers" television campaign ads. Since 2005, the Winston-Salem woman and former smoker has been sharing her story on television in hopes of helping others quit smoking.
"Being able to make a difference in somebody else’s life is what it's about," said Hall with the aid of an artificial voice box. "I'm very passionate about not wanting people to go through what I’m going through because of choices I made at an early age."
Hall started smoking at the age of 17 thanks to peer pressure. She smoked for 23 years until a dentist discovered mouth cancer and a sore throat would reveal more.
"They told me I had a tumor on my larynx and they were going to take my voice box," Hall said.
Since then, she's been diagnosed with more cancer and is currently battling a brain tumor - all linked to smoking.
Hall doesn't hide any of her struggles in the national television ads, one of which shows the 52-year-old getting ready in the morning by putting on a wig, inserting false teeth and a device over the hole in her throat. "No one wants to talk with a hole in their neck or breathe through a hole in their neck. But, it can happen. Don't think it can't because it can."
Wednesday her efforts to help others quit smoking gained her recognition from U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin in Washington, D.C.
"It was the ultimate honor," she says for her work that is backed with faith. "God has blessed me, He blesses me every day," Hall said.
The CDC says the ads featuring Hall have made the most impact in their campaign and videos featuring her have received more than 2-million views on YouTube alone.