The following message was written by Kerri, a member of the smoking cessation support forum, who shared her journey when she quit smoking.
When I was a smoker, I had every excuse in the book to continue being one, but my favorite excuse that I pulled out of my hat was when I was growing up. I would say, “My uncle Arthur smoked from the age of 16 until he died at the age of 80. My aunt Del has smoked since she was a teenager. Nothing will happen to me now, only during the BAD part of my life, the last part ! ”
So I kept smoking. I loved smoking. It was a big part of my social life, my time alone, my escape. But as an active young person with a family, my limits became more and more painful.
I couldn’t go on excursions. I couldn’t go into more than one store and bring my children with me. I couldn’t go to the cinema. I couldn’t run my kids down the street or even throw a frisbee for long periods of time. Not only that, my friends didn’t really smoke anymore, so I either snuck in or just turned down the evenings for fear of being the “weird man”.
Then one day my son overheard me coming home from happy hour with my staff. He greeted me with: “I knew you were home, mom. I recognized your cough.”
At 31, I now had a noticeable, excruciating cough. This is not normal for a 31 year old woman.
Warnings from others
I started reading more into other people’s stories and found myself fixated on those my age. I found a library of them at whyquit.com.
There is Noni who died when her son was only months old. Her husband celebrated her child’s first birthday without her. She was a victim of small cell lung cancer.
Noni was just 33 years old.
Impossible. It must have been a fluke, bad genes, just one of those things. Unfortunately it wasn’t.
The story of Bryan
There was the story of Bryan, a 34-year-old man who died of lung cancer and left his little boy without a father. A tough guy, a construction worker who had smoked since he was 14, became a mere shell of a man.
The story of Barb
And another story about a woman named Barb Tarbox. Barb tells a tragic story of smoking as a teenager and never thinks anything bad would happen, especially when she was young. Barb developed lung cancer at the age of 41 and was suddenly faced with leaving her daughter without a mother and watching her suffer while she died.
The day I met Kery
What made me write this was a chance meeting I recently had with a 31 year old woman who has the same name as me. Talk about the scary fate.
Kery has just been diagnosed with the early stages of emphysema. She has to stop to have a chance in life. she is my age! She has 3 children and emphysema could choke her to death right in front of them. It’s not a cancer; This time it’s another lung disease.
I was one of the lucky ones. I don’t know if I would have been one of the tragic stories above or if I would have been blessed with a long life like my uncle Arthur. What if I wasn’t Would I want to be the one to sit down my little kids and tell them they have to find their own way in the world because I’m dying of a poison that I can’t resist?
My leap into freedom
On January 8, 2004, I made my leap into freedom. I find the sheer freedom from smoking intoxicating.
And because I stopped young, I have the rest of my life to do WHATEVER I want, to breathe with ease all the time, without slavery, to live my long life the way I chose, without being chained to an addiction to be. I can run, I can swim, I can be as active or as inactive as I want. I gave myself back and I’ve had my whole life to enjoy that feeling.
I still have to worry if I quit on time, but not nearly as much as I would worry if I waited another 10, 20, or 30 years to quit. The thing about this addiction is that it doesn’t just lose its footing at some point. Quitting is a decision that you must make. It will stick even if you die of cancer. Bryan smoked, as noted above, until the week before his death. He only gave himself a week of freedom.
Nobody is immune, but everyone can choose
We have a choice for ourselves. This is not a dress rehearsal, this is the only YOU you will ever get. Do you want to purposely risk making it short or living a long life of excitement, freedom, and loved ones?
It can happen to you. You always think it’s on the other side of the fence, but not this time. Cigarettes don’t kill a specific group of people. Nobody is immune to the dangers of tobacco, not celebrities, not the young and not the old. Non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke are also at risk.
Love this life that was given to you. Love yourself. Appreciate the fact that others love you and don’t play Russian roulette with yourself.
~ Kerri ~
More from Kerri: Kerris Quit Story