DEAR ABBY: The winter months are hard for me. They remind me that another year has gone by without my father and my younger sister.

Dad had been a smoker since his teens and died from pancreatic cancer at 39. I was 13, and my siblings were younger. In those days, we didn't know that smoking was a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.

My sister smoked from the time she was 13. She died from lung cancer at 44, leaving behind two young sons.

Neither my father nor my sister got to experience the wonderful family milestones and celebrations we have had. Their grandchildren will never know them. Each year during the holidays, I feel a sadness in my heart.

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I urge every smoker to make a vow to quit and carry it through, not only for their own sake but also their family's. Stay determined to quit so you won't cause your loved ones sadness and won't miss out on their futures. -- MISSING DAD AND SIS IN SACRAMENTO

DEAR MISSING: Readers, I'm not going to harangue you with death threats. We are all aware of the grim statistics associated with cancer-related deaths caused by tobacco. If you're interested in quitting, this is a perfect opportunity. Call (800) 227-2345 to be connected with counseling services in your community, provided with self-help materials offering information and strategies on quitting for good, and to receive information about medications available to help you quit. This service is free and provided 24/7. Or go online to cancer.org.

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