- Neal visited the QuitNow booth at the Langley Walk for Wellness event in Walnut Grove to share his own personal story of why he quit and how he did it.
“I was a heavy smoker, but it wasn’t until my friend Marie was diagnosed with cancer that I realized it was time to get a hold of my life”
Neal visited the QuitNow booth at the Langley Walk for Wellness event in Walnut Grove to share his own personal story of why he quit and how he did it.
“I was a heavy smoker and I tried numerous times to quit smoking but failed,” said Neal. “It was a life changing event that took place for me when my friend Marie Jensen was fighting her battle with cancer.”
At that time, Neal realized that cancer can affect anyone, “I realized that I too could get this disease.”
“One day while watching Global BCTV News I realized that it was time for me to get a hold of my life and make changes to it. I saw a blurb on Global about QuitNow, so I thought I would give it a try.”
Like most people, for Neal quitting took multiple attempts, “I tried the QuitNow program but failed the first time. However, I didn’t want to give up so I came back and re-entered the program.”
Looking back, Neal attributes his quit success to the wake-up call from his friend Marie and the services QuitNow provides. “I have now been smoke-free for six years. Thanks to QuitNow for all that you did for me and a big thank you to my friend Marie!”
- "I tried everything: the patch, quit meds, cutting back, cold turkey. The truth is I loved smoking...quitting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done...but I want to make sure I'm here to see my daughter get married."
Karen, daughter Keana 18, and partner Todd all quit about the same time, this past January.“This isn’t the first time I’ve quit,” said Karen. “I struggled to get pregnant when I was young. So when I finally had my daughter Keana, I was determined to quit and be healthy. And I stayed quit for 10 years."But then my mom got cancer for the 4th time, and I caved. It was such a stressful time.”Karen’s mom made her promise to quit smoking before she died, but Karen admits she stumbled,“I tried everything: the patch, quit meds, cutting back, cold turkey. The truth is I loved smoking. It was my lifestyle. A lot of our friends still smoke and quitting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.“But I don’t want to get sick. I want to make sure I’m here to see my daughter get married. She’s my biggest reason for quitting, that and the fact I have asthma.”So for now, instead of smoking, Karen crochets, “I crochet everything and anything! My daughter started crocheting too! And my husband, who is artistic, never stops drawing. Luckily we quit in wintertime, so to get over the first few weeks, when the nicotine cravings were strongest, we spent a lot of time distracting ourselves by watching movies.”Karen also had success with QuitNow. “It’s a great support. I like checking in on their Facebook page. It’s good to share your experiences and celebrate milestones with others going through the same thing. And all of us – Todd, my daughter and I use QuitNow to keep track of our quit stats. It’s a running joke between us. How much have you saved now? How many cigarettes have you not smoked?”In terms of advice, Karen reminds potential quitters, “Don’t let yourself get down if you slip up. Don’t beat yourself up. Just dust yourself off and start again. I’m doing it, day by day, and so can you!”
- “Before I quit, smoking was everything. I got up and had a cigarette. Then I’d get in my car and have another. Then I’d have one during smoke breaks with friends. To quit, I had to recreate my life. I started biking and running...
Mom to an 18 year son, Michelle smoked a pack a day for 31 years before finding the motivation to quit for good. It’s no coincidence she chose to quit on her son’s birthday, April 2, 2012.“My biggest reason for quitting was my son,” she said. “He pleaded for me to stop smoking and was so proud when I did. He said it was the best birthday gift I could ever give him!”But it didn’t come easy. Michelle attempted many times and tried everything: the nicotine patch, prescription quit medications, even hypnosis. In the end, laser therapy proved the best help for her together with the support of family, friends and QuitNow’s online community.“Before I quit, smoking was everything,” recalled Michelle. “I got up and had a cigarette. Then I’d get in my car and have another. Then I’d have a cigarette during smoke breaks with work friends. Then I’d go out, have a drink and a few cigarettes. Smoking was my best friend but frankly I don’t know how I afforded it.“In order to quit, I had to recreate my life. I started running and then cycling and participated in the BC Lung Association annual Bicycle Trek event, a two day, 200km ride to help fight lung disease. I made it the entire way and was so proud. In fact, I had so much fun I’m doing it again this September.”“I also took my first holiday in my adult life,” continued Michelle. “I went to Vegas and the Grand Canyon with my sister and we ended up hiking 32km in and out of the Canyon. I couldn’t believe I actually did that! If I had still been smoking, there’s no way!”“And I reward myself and celebrate being smoke-free every six months. After the first 6 months I bought myself an iPod shuffle, now maybe it’s a new top or a manicure,” she added.Today Michelle draws extra resolve from her online quitter friends and looks forward to what’s ahead. “I really like being part of QuitNow’s community – hearing about other women’s quit success and sharing my own. And now that I’ve been two years smoke-free I’m excited for the future. I have a second chance at living a longer, healthier life. I’m grabbing hold of life and not letting go!”
- Jess recalls that her 7-year old daughter Olivia would plead with her to quit every time she went outside to light up. But that alone didn’t do the trick. It wasn’t until her doctor gave her some bad news...
A proud mom of two, Jess smoked 5 to 15 cigarettes a day for 12 years before health issues demanded she make a serious commitment to quitting.
Jess recalls that her seven-year old daughter Olivia was never a fan of her smoking, and would plead with her to quit every time she went outside to light up. But that alone, as many smokers can attest, didn’t do the trick.
It wasn’t until her doctor gave her some bad news that Jess really decided to quit. “I was frightened. That’s when I finally knew I had to, my health depended on it and smoking wasn’t an option any longer.
“My doctor almost cried when I told him I finally quit. He had wanted me to stop for so long.”
So Jess contacted our QuitNow program, and got as much help as she needed.
“I called QuitNow, and spoke to one of their quit coaches who told me about all the things available to help me get started and cope with withdrawal symptoms. I even took advantage of the free quit medication (Habitrol) offered by the BC government.”
She also had a lot of family support from her partner Robert and two daughters, who are as committed as she is that “Mom never smoke again!”
Jess hasn’t touched a cigarette since November 24th, 2013, but doesn’t deny that the craving returns once and while. “My trick is push-ups. I hit the floor, do a quick 15, throw in some jumping jacks and get the blood pumping. It may not work for everyone, but that’s what works for me.”
To keep herself quit, Jess is still using QuitNow’s online tools to measure her “quit stats, like how much I’ve saved by not smoking. Their Facebook page is great too. That’s where quitters help encourage and keep each other on track, and you can enter monthly contests.”
- “I love my children and I don’t want my smoking to rub off on them. In particular, I worry about my youngest. She’s two with severe asthma. I’m doing everything I can. I couldn’t live with myself if she suffered because of me.
A single mom of three, Shauna says she smoked for 16 of her 28 years before she finally decided to quit for good earlier this year, “I’ve been quit three months now and I’m trying hard to stick to it. My friends and entire family still smoke and I still miss smoking. If I had a drink for example, I know it would be over. So for now I’m not drinking because I’m determined to stop smoking for good this time.”Shauna has overcome major challenges before, “When I was in my teens, I got into drugs. Getting past that was hard, but I think quitting smoking may be even harder. I’m 11 years clean today, and I want to be smoke-free too.”She tried quitting many times before, including each time she was pregnant, but somehow always started up again.This time she made sure to take advantage of free quit help available, “I called 811 and got the free nicotine patches and I also follow QuitNow’s facebook page. It’s great to hear about what others are going through. You don’t feel so alone and can share in the ups and downs along the way.”In terms of what finally motivated her to quit for good, Shauna says it was her kids, “I love my children and I don’t want my smoking to rub off on them. In particular, I worry about my youngest. She’s two and has severe asthma. We’ve been in and out of the hospital since she was born. I’m doing everything I can to help and I know quitting is important. I couldn’t live with myself if she suffered because of me.”“I also quit to save money, “continued Shauna. “I didn’t realize how much money I was spending on cigarettes until I quit. Crazy! It’s hard enough being a single mom and making ends meet.”In terms of quit advice Shauna says, “To be successful you have to be seriously motivated and committed. Quitting is hard work. I hid away for the first two weeks so I wouldn’t mess up. Now I’m back hanging out with my friends, many who still smoke. But I’ve learned to find the laughter and fun in it. When they tease me, I tease right back saying “think of all the money I’m saving” or “I smell like flowers but you… not so good!”
- “I’d go to bed hating the fact I was a smoker...I would throw all my smokes out. Then by lunch the next day I’d go out and buy more. I quit too many times to count...now my life is all about healthy living.”
A heavy smoker from age 13 to 30, Adriana was a chronic quitter for years before finding the resolve to quit for good four years ago, “If I didn’t have my smoke that’s all I was thinking about. By the end I was smoking a pack and half a day at least.”“I’d go to bed hating the fact I was a smoker so I would throw all my smokes out,” she said. “Then by lunch the next day I’d go out and buy more. I quit too many times to count, and only a handful of times did I make it past 24 hours.”Finding the resolve to quit took practice and clarity about what was most important, “I quit for my son Cole. He’s 10 now and I want to set a good example. I felt terrible subjecting him to second-hand smoke. And I quit for my husband. He’s never smoked a day in his life, and worried sick about my smoking.”To quit, Adriana tried everything from nicotine patches to going cold turkey and in the end found a prescription quit medication called Champix helped her best, “QuitNow helped too. I called their helpline numerous times for advice and I like their Facebook community. It’s reassuring to know you are not the only one finding it hard. And its’ great to see others succeed, because if they can I can too.”Not unlike many others who smoke, Adriana comes from a family of smokers. Three out of her four siblings are also ex-smokers and today support one another in staying smoke-free, “My grandma and my aunt died of lung cancer before age 50. To see my cousin now, without a mother, and her children without a grandmother, breaks my heart. I’m so happy to be smoke-free.“Now my life is all about healthy living. I’ve become a yoga enthusiast. And I spend more time with my family. Occasionally the thought of smoking crosses my mind – but leaves as quick as it comes.”“I don’t miss smoking anymore,” said Adriana. “At first it was like losing my best friend in the world. I would carry a list in my back pocket of all the reasons I quit to pull out whenever I felt weak. That helped a lot – maybe it can help others too?”
- “Before I quit, I couldn’t get ready or be nice until I had my coffee and about two cigarettes outside. Now I start the day with water, exercise and enjoy my coffee while my kids eat breakfast.”
Mallika is a mother of two who smoked a pack a day until she quit on September 16, 2013.
What finally motivated Mallika to stop smoking was her kids, “My two beautiful children, 6 and 2, are the biggest reasons I quit for sure. When your kids wish you didn't smoke, it is just heart breaking. I grew up feeling that way, my mom smoked too.”“I’d tried to quit before, but only half-heartedly,” said Mallika. “Smoking was a huge part of my life. Before I quit, I couldn’t get ready or be nice until I had my coffee and about two cigarettes outside. Now I start the day with water, exercise and enjoy my coffee while my kids eat breakfast.”Working in the health care industry was another reason. “I work in the healthcare industry and it hit me one day. How can I provide care and promote the health and well-being of others if I’m smoking like a chimney?”And while she had experimented with different quit tools, Mallika ultimately managed to quit cold turkey. “No meds, no counselling, no nothing, except of course the support of my family and especially my kids. I still occasionally get weak when I smell or see people smoking, but I know in the end it’s ridiculous to let something so unhealthy have control over you.”“I am so happy to have quit. And writing and sharing my story is just another way to celebrate my success, recommit to be the healthiest I can and help others in the process!” she added.Mallika encourages everyone who’s thinking of quitting to just give it a shot – that the anticipation is worse that the actual experience. “It took me a long time to commit. I thought NO WAY – I’ll lose it, I’ll panic. I was scared, but I want everyone to know that’s normal. Nothing worth having or doing is ever easy. The challenge is the fun, and getting it right starts by trying.”
- "I’m a work in progress. I’ve been quitting for the last five years - no lie! The toughest part is when I’m out socializing with friends and enjoying a drink. I can't separate the two completely yet..but I’m getting there!"
“I started smoking when I was 12. We’d just moved to BC from Winnipeg and I didn't know anyone,” said Amanda. “My mom had to work, so while she was at the office, I’d smoke her cigarettes. Before you know it I was hooked.”
Like many who have smoked for a long time, Amanda still battles cravings and occasionally slips, but she doesn’t intend to give up trying, “The truth is I’m a work in progress. I’ve been quitting for the last five years - no lie! The toughest part is when I’m out socializing, partying with friends and enjoying a drink. I can't separate the two completely yet - drinking and smoking - but I’m getting there.”
According to quit experts, it’s perfectly normal to try quitting multiple times before successfully quitting for good, and for some, including Amanda, what can help is cutting back gradually, “There were times I used smoke a lot, probably a pack a day. What worked for me was weaning cigarettes out over time. Before I quit, I was down to a point where a pack of smokes would last me a week.”
As for quit motivation, Amanda said, “My main reasons for quitting are: health first, vanity second and money, third. I worry about getting sick and how my smoking could affect my appearance. And I sure appreciate all the money I save now that I’m not buying cigarettes!”
For those still trying to quit and stay quit, Amanda offers encouragement, “Don't give up, I’m not! If you have a cigarette it doesn't mean you failed, it's just a setback, so keep on trying! That’s my motto.”
- “I told EVERYONE I quit. I celebrated every minute I didn't smoke, then every day, then every month. I talked about it to my husband, family, friends and complete strangers. I knew if I stopped talking, it would be so easy to start up again.”
Mom to three children, aged 5 months, 3 years, and 13 years, Michelle is 32 and smoked half her life before quitting for good. “Quitting was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I want my kids to be proud of me and grow up free from addiction,” she said. “I want them to be healthy. I want to be at their weddings and graduations. Not off in a corner puffing away or worse - not here at all.”
As it does for many, quitting for good first took a couple of dry runs, said Michelle. “I had sort of quit a couple of times, but never completely. For instance, I tried really hard when I was pregnant, but always kind of knew I'd go back to it.”
Michelle said she’ll never forget her final quit date, “It was May 21, 2013 at 1pm. I remember the exact time because I made sure to smoke my last cigarette right before heading in for my appointment with a gal that does laser therapy for quitting smoking. I was so ready to quit, I would try anything.”
Was it the laser therapy or just a question of timing, Michelle isn’t sure, but this last quit attempt was different, “I began to track my cravings and my smoking habits, when and where I smoked. And I talked about it. I told EVERYONE I’d quit and I celebrated every minute I didn't smoke, then every day, then every month. I talked about it to my husband, my family, friends and complete strangers. I didn't want to let my efforts slip under the radar. I knew if I stopped talking, it would be so easy to start up again.”
“In all my prior attempts, I'd never fully gone smoke and nicotine free for more than 2 months,” she continued. “The way I see it, you can't say you quit if you're still sneaking a drag here and there.”
Michelle found resisting the habit of smoking was always the hard part. “Smoking was how I took five minutes to myself when the kids were crazy or when I needed a break. Smoking was my “me time.” How ridiculous!” she added. “Even now, every so often the thought of smoking creeps into my head, but I know I've made the right choice. My mantra is simple: NOPE – Not One Puff Ever.”
“I never thought in a million years I'd be able to quit and inspire others,” said Michelle who remains an active member of QuitNow’s online community. “I like the posts where people say they've been quit for a day or ten years, and I’m happy to be their cheerleader. It takes bravery to say NOPE to something like smoking. It's scary to walk away, not knowing if you can do it. But you can, because I did.”
- I gained weight after I quit – and not from overeating...but I did find a solution. It’s called a treadmill! I’ve been riding that thing for three years now, five days a week for 45 minutes, and I’m looking and feeling good!”
“I quit March 11th, 2010 and I’ll never forget that day,” recalled Giselle who smoked half a pack a day for 35 years. “I tried twice before, once cold turkey and once with the patch, but I wasn’t ready.”According to Giselle, it was Louise Poole, a BC Lung Association health promoter that set her on the road to finally becoming smoke-free for good. Louise came to speak with Giselle and her work colleagues on March 11thabout free quit smoking services and as part of their discussions performed carbon monoxide (CO) tests on anyone willing; a simple breathing test which indicates the level of carbon monoxide in a persons’ blood, and suggests the degree to which cigarette smoke could be affecting one’s health.That same day, Giselle made sure not to smoke a mid-morning cigarette. However despite deliberately smoking less, her (CO) test results suggested smoking was having a serious impact on her health.“After Louise told me my test results were high, I heard a voice inside of my head say what are you doing to yourself, and I started to cry. That was it. I hit rock bottom. No more cigarettes,” continued Giselle.Today Giselle feels a lot better and while she doesn’t miss anything about smoking, she does warn prospective quitters that it takes some adjusting to. “I gained weight after I quit – and not from overeating. The reality is your metabolism changes, but I did find a solution. It’s called a treadmill! I’ve been riding that thing for three years now, five days a week for 45 minutes, and I’m looking good!”Unfortunately, as a result of her many years as a smoker, Giselle today lives with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), a long-lasting respiratory disorder. Luckily, having quit and caught it early, most days she feels good, “Keeping fit helps, but my chest does hurt occasionally, so I’m careful.”As for quit advice, Giselle adds, “stop smoking as soon as you can! The long and the short of it is, if you really, truly want to quit you will succeed.”