Sarah said: “Until recently, smoking played a big part in my life. I started around age 11 when I’d sneak cigarettes from my mum’s packets. By secondary school, many of my friends smoked and we even spent our lunch money on cigarettes.
“I have three children in their 20s and 30s and two young grandchildren, aged just two and three. They have given me the wake-up call I needed to stop. I lost my mum when she was 58 to pancreatic cancer and she also had mouth cancer. Now I’m in my 50s, I was desperate to do something for my health.
“I developed a chest infection last October and it scared me, so I started looking into ways I could quit. By March, I realised enough was enough and knew I had to do it. I went on holiday with my friends at the beginning of March and decided to throw away my cigarettes for good as soon as I got back.
“Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. My husband and I own an engineering company and as a business, it is the most stressful time we have ever been through. Lockdown changed everything – but it forced me into new routines. I couldn’t see my friends and my husband doesn’t smoke. Although the timing was tough, I was determined to stop smoking and set my quit date for 28th March.
“As a heavy smoker, I knew I needed help to overcome the addiction. The stop smoking service have been so supportive and my husband and children have been brilliant. I used stop smoking medication to help me quit and it has been great.
“I also found it helped me to change my daily routine. Before, I would get up in a morning and the first thing I would do was have a cigarette. Now, my husband brings me a cup of tea in bed. I do tasks to distract me.
“When I smoked, I would get out of breath easily. I’m quite an active person and before the pandemic, I went to bootcamp classes – but I found that I couldn’t keep up as well. I hated the fact that I was reliant on cigarettes. I didn’t eat well either and now I enjoy food much more.
“The coronavirus crisis has been another motivating factor in keeping me going. It has been so scary and still is. I know that smokers are likely to be badly affected by the virus and I want to be around to see my grandsons grow up.
“I have tried to quit before, but I am very determined this time. I am still taking it one day at a time. I want to get to the point where I can confidently say that I am not a smoker. But if I can do this now – at the most stressful time – there is no turning back.
“I’m noticing benefits all the time. My skin feels better, I feel better in myself. I’m not coughing as much now and that was one of my main worries. I’m also saving money. My family are over the moon. My husband and children don’t smoke and they always hoped I would stop.
“To anyone thinking about quitting, my advice would be just to go for it. Take the plunge. There is help and support out there and it really does make a difference. Tell family and close friends – they will help you through.
“I see it as an opportunity to look at my lifestyle as a whole and make positive changes for the future.”
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