Susan Jones Feeney knows all about smoking. She says smoking killed everyone in her family and gave her throat cancer.

Now Feeney can only talk in a harsh whisper, but the 80-year-old is raising her voice to warn students in the Rowland Unified School District.

"Only two are still alive in my family of eight, my sister who never smoked and myself. All of them died from the direct result of tobacco smoke," Feeney told 70 sixth-graders at Shelyn Elementary School.

She was traveling from school to school to bring her very personal message as part of Rowland's Red Ribbon Week activities.

The professional singer was "shocked," when she was told that she had cancer more than 40 years ago. Feeney had just

Susan Jones Feeney greets sixth graders. (Photos by Gina Ward, Rowland Unified School District)
performed in a light opera.

"My voice was normal. Two weeks before I found out I had performed in a concert. I still have a recording of that," she recalled.

Surgeons had to remove 60 percent of her vocal cords. Her career had ended, but her calling had just begun.

"When I was told I had cancer, I knew I could no longer be a singer," she said. "But I could help others make better choices. Every time I lit a cigarette I was making a choice. Smoking causes cancer and other diseases."

Feeney figures it follows generations in families. It's hard to break that cycle.

"In my family, my great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters all smoked," she remembered. "I began smoking when I was 13 years old and two of my three kids smoked. That's five generations in my family." Read entire story HERE.