A Mother's Promise To Her Dying Daughter

By John W. Davis

April 6, 2011 Updated Apr 7, 2011 at 3:19 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - 20-year-old Jennifer Robbins died from lung cancer in 2005.

Her mother said Jennifer never smoked but worked in smoked filled restaurants for five years, as a teenager.

Meanwhile, second-hand smoke has caused lots of controversy, highlighted by an Indiana Senate Committee voting 8 to 1, against a statewide smoking ban.

Several members said they voted against the ban because it had too many exemptions, including casinos, bars, clubs and nursing homes.

Jennifer's mother, Anita DeSelm told Indiana's NewsCenter she made a promise to her daughter before she died.

"I really don't want another mother to go through what I went through and Jen made me promise... When she found out it was gonna be fatal, she made me promise, or asked me to promise to make sure I did whatever needed to be done to make sure nobody suffered like she did," said Jennifer's Mom Anita DeSelm.

DeSelm said Jennifer was 19-years-old when she first discovered an annoying couch that kept her up at night.

She went to the doctor and was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Before Jennifer died, the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and brain.

Doctors were not able to officially determine what caused Jennifer to develop cancer.

However, since she was a not a smoker, most people believe she died from second-hand smoke.

"If a drunk driver goes out and kills someone it's immediate. They know to charge that person with that death. But with second-hand smoke, you don't. It's over a period of time and you can't pinpoint that cigarette, or that cigarette, or that work experience or this work experience. So I just want the playing field level," said DeSelm.

DeSelm promised her daughter that she would educate young people across Indiana about smoking and second-hand smoke.

She also promised to raise money for research.

So far, she has raised about $50,000 dollars through the Cancer Free Lungs program.

Meanwhile, DeSelm said she is not against smokers.

However, she wants all young people to be protected.

DeSelm used the example of young people who have jobs at restaurants, bars and clubs.

DeSelm does not want those young people to have to choose between receiving a paycheck and being exposed to second-hand smoke.

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