Annette Thompson smoked for more than four decades.

The cigarettes took her life, and her family wants others to learn from it.

An obituary in this weekend’s Tribune includes a heartfelt plea from Thompson’s daughter, Wendy Michelle Lance: “I’m asking you, as her daughter, if you smoke … please quit today.”

Thompson died Jan. 5 at her home in Loganville after a battle with lung cancer. She was 69.

The end came quickly for Thompson, her sister Martha Blanchard said.

Thompson noticed a lump in her throat on Thanksgiving and made an appointment with to see her general practitioner within a couple of weeks. The doctor knew it was some type of cancer and referred her to an oncologist.

A biopsy was done within days “even though Annette said she would not do any chemotherapy or radiation,” Blanchard said.

Thompson got the results from her biopsy on the day after Christmas and learned it was stage 4 lung cancer.

A doctor said she had only days or weeks to live.

Her surviving siblings were able to see her in the final days, and she died last weekend. A hospice program was able to keep her comfortable and at home.

Blanchard recalled waking up last Sunday morning with her sister on her mind.

“(I was) thinking of a dream I had that Annette in it, and about eight seconds later my sister called to tell me Annette had transitioned,” she said.

Thompson was a native of Jacksonville, Florida, the middle of seven children. Blanchard recalled her sister as a true fighter. Both her retinas detached during childhood. One of her children died and another had a cleft palate. A grandson has Stickler syndrome, a genetic disorder which causes eye and joint problems.

“She had a tough life but with each adversity she faced, she came up swinging,” Blanchard said. “When we say she was the life of the party, she really was. She was a very special woman.”

Blanchard, who lives in Alpharetta, said her sister started smoking at age 18 and mostly gave it up, but occasionally indulged in recent years.

The American Lung Association says more than 480,000 people in the U.S. die from tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke each year.

Piedmont Healthcare, which owns the Monroe hospital, offers tobacco cessation classes at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center.

“We have an amazing community education team at Piedmont Athens Regional that offers smoking cessation courses as well as additional resources,” communications specialist Sydney Walker said. For appointments or answers to questions, call 706-475-1029.

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