OGDEN -- Black pig lungs. A jar of coughed-up phlegm. Yellow teeth and tar from a year's worth of smoking.
Those were just a few of Terrie Hall's visuals during a high school presentation Wednesday on the dangers of tobacco.
Hall, who was diagnosed with throat cancer after smoking up to two packs a day for 23 years, ended up losing her voice box in order to save her life. She spoke to students at Two Rivers High School through a special device connected to her trachea.
Hall, who is from Lexington, N.C., said she began smoking at age 14 and quickly became addicted.
"I was a cheerleader in high school. When I attended high school, there were designated areas where the students could smoke, but because I was an athlete I wasn't allowed to go there," she said. "But do you think I found a way? Yes, I did. At the time I didn't know what an addict was. I just knew I liked tobacco."
During a routine dental visit, she had a biopsy on a sore in her mouth. It was cancer. Even during 33 grueling radiation treatments, Hall continued to smoke.
"I thought as long as I was getting radiation I would be OK, because it would kill any cancer that might develop," she said. "That was a ridiculous way to think."
During radiation, Hall developed a bad sore throat. Another biopsy revealed cancer of the larynx. Surgery was scheduled to remove her voice box.
"I smoked the day of my surgery. I smoked all the way up to the front door of the hospital," Hall said. "When I was about to go into surgery, the doctor looked at me and said, 'Miss Hall, you have smoked your last cigarette.' The next thing I knew I was awake in the ICU and couldn't speak a word. I opened my mouth and nothing came out."
Because of her surgery, Hall has been unable to blow her nose in 11 years. She can no longer swim. She can't sing, and she certainly can't smoke. When she speaks, a hoarse, raspy whisper comes out.
"I would never put a cigarette up to my trachea," she said. "I wouldn't lower myself to that level. When I take a shower, I have to hold my breath because my lungs could fill up with water."
Today, Hall focuses on educating others about the dangers of tobacco. Since her arrival in Utah, she has reached more than 1,000 high school kids throughout the state and has filmed TV and radio advertisements and will be featured on billboards. To look at her, one wouldn't know the ordeal the pretty blonde, blue-eyed woman has been through. It isn't until she speaks that people take notice.
"I've had children tell me I sound like Darth Vader," she said. "People do a double-take when they hear me talk."
During her presentation, Hall had several students participate in exercises to demonstrate the harsh effects tobacco has on the body. Some students did jumping jacks while breathing through a straw. Others put a Tootsie Roll in the side of their mouth and were told not to swallow, but to spit when their mouths filled with saliva.
"She really made me think twice about smoking," said 17-year-old Bre Carlin. "I've seen the commercials on TV, but seeing someone who has actually gone through what she has really hit home. It's just crazy. I thought her talk was wonderful."
Mackenzie Miller, also 17, said she was forced by an adult to smoke a cigarette when she was a child. The purpose was to show her how terrible smoking can be.
"I coughed and gagged. It was awful," she said. "I've never had a desire to touch a cigarette. I thought her talk was great. It makes you think and makes me glad I don't smoke."
Hall also warned students of the dangers of secondhand smoke and went through some of the 4,000-plus ingredients in tobacco, including arsenic, formaldehyde, urine, feces and mercury.
"Look at me. I didn't think this would ever happen to me. I thought I was invincible. This only happened to other people. Well, I'm the other people," Hall said. "If being different means saying 'no,' then just say 'no.' Don't start, and if you already smoke, do everything in your power to quit. If I can do it, so can you."
If you would like to stop smoking, call 1-800-QUITNOW. You can also log on to Facebook and link to truthabouttobacco.