Deborah Debi Austin

Deborah "Debi" Austin

Illinois, USA
Death 22 Feb 2013 (aged 62)
Van Nuys, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 106049436 · View Source
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Born Deborah Austin on April 13, 1950 in Illinois, she moved to Los Angeles in 1954. She started regularly smoking cigarettes in junior high. In 1992, she was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer and had a laryngectomy. She starred in the well-known Voicebox ad, where she is talking to the viewer then smokes through her stoma at her throat, described in a statement by Dr. Ron Chapman of the California Department of Public Health as "the most-recognized and talked about California tobacco control ad". He continued, "Debi was a pioneer in the fight against tobacco and showed tremendous courage by sharing her story to educate Californians on the dangers of smoking." Though she was finally able to quit smoking a few months after the ads first aired, she continued to battle various forms of cancer for the rest of her life.
Ms.Austin lost her battle to tabacoo related cancer and died on February 22, 2013 in Van Nuys, California, at the age of 62.

Your Anti-Tabacco ad has impacted many lives , and ma hopefully impact more.

I live in Tennesse and have seen Debi's ads on Youtube , Her story has impacted me very much,I wish i would have the chance to meet her before she was called to her Heavenly Home. Rest in peace Ms.Austin.
-Cameron Kidd , Gallatin Tn.

When you go out into the world and find your adventure, dance. Choose life. Your remembered by the content,of your art and the choices you made. Do not be remembered for the consiqences of the choices you made
-Debi (Anti-Smoking ad , witch aired November 5 , 2010)

This is a small passage I found , written by Debi herself. The picture on her memorial of her with the torch is linked to this.

I was nominated by the daughter of a close friend, Kim. When I had my surgery, Kim came to the hospital every day. She sat with me many hours when I was learning to speak again. She was with me one day after the PSA (public service announcement) aired, [See] and we were swamped by students wanting to talk to me. We spent an hour sitting there talking. She wrote about the experience that day. I have been speaking in high schools since 1996.

I had my surgery December 1992. I used a Cooper-Rand for the first two years. I had TEP surgery, but could not produce sound. However the practice did help my esophageal speech, so I was not disappointed in the surgery. I still keep a Cooper-Rand at hand in case of emergency. I have emphysema, so during lung infections I often have trouble speaking. My surgeon was/is wonderful. He insisted that I go to a support group before I had surgery and called another patient to make sure I went. Before they put me out he said, "Remember, nothing will ever keep you quiet, only alter the sound." When I was in college drawing political cartoons and posters for a living one of them had the comment, "You have not converted a man simply because you have silenced him!" Perhaps I was preparing myself and didn't know it.

When I received the call I was not the least bit prepared, at first I thought it was a candid camera bit. I was not in tune with the "torch" event or paying attention to any of the publicity that went with it. The lady, Linda, was very understanding when I questioned her.

I carried the torch the first leg of the relay in Paso Robles on January 17th. It was awesome. Every picture I have, I am crying. When asked if I could stop crying for a minute, my answer was, "I doubt it." Because I cannot walk 1100 ft, Walmart furnished a cart for me.

The fact that anything I could do would have an impact on someone's life that they would write and nominate me was overwhelming. I lost a dear friend a week before. I was carrying the torch for Dwight Pollock and cancer survivors everywhere.

Just a footnote, there is no such thing as an Olympic Torch, they are designed for each event. You are carrying the "Olympic Flame." When you take your first step, you are the only person in the world carrying that flame! No pressure there!

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  • Maintained by: Ck98
  • Originally Created by: Babe
  • Added: 2 Mar 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 106049436
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Deborah "Debi" Austin (13 Apr 1950–22 Feb 2013), Find A Grave Memorial no. 106049436, ; Maintained by Ck98 (contributor 48928290) Unknown.