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Tracy quit and now does her local 5k park-run. She describes how she stopped...
I was fifteen years old when I started smoking, so I was smoking for 35 years before I stopped. I was actually a late starter all my friends had started smoking before I did. My Mam and Dad smoked too. My Mam gave up 20 years ago through sickness after getting COPD, which made it difficult for her to breathe.
It took me years before I quit for good. I knew what I was doing was wrong. I was getting older and I knew if I didn’t stop now, that it would catch up on me. I had watched and listened to Gerry Collins in his Quit smoking TV ads, I had seen first-hand the serious health affect smoking had on my Mam’s health and I’ve two kids but stil,l I couldn’t get to that place where I could quit. My little nieces even said to me ‘haven’t you given them up yet.
The turning point actually happened when the hoover suddenly stopped working! When it broke, the first thing I thought about was having a smoke. My next thought was what was a smoke going to do to help me. Then I thought about what a waste of €20 it would be buying a pack of cigarettes.
I had tried to quit before over the previous five years, but this time I was motivated. I had little strategies that really helped me, like for example, I recorded television programmes, so that I would fast forward the ad breaks rather than go outside for a cigarette.
I had done the ‘We Can Quit’ stop smoking programme run by the Irish Cancer Society before and all the things I learned had stayed with me – what exactly was in a cigarette, the health benefits of quitting and the financial costs of smoking.
Now I don’t need a smoke. Before if I was on the phone I would have a cigarette or if I got a bit of bad news I would want a smoke. Now I think what will a cigarette do for me? I haven’t had any relapses. I remember going by a lady sitting on a bench with a cigarette and a coffee in her hands but I didn’t give into temptation then and I’m still going strong.
When I quit, I was worried that I would put on weight and I thought that I’m not going to let that happen. After watching Operation Transformation in January 2017, I found my local parkrun and it’s been brilliant. The first week I walked the 5k route but now I’m jogging and walking it and my time each week is improving – last week I knocked three minutes of my previous weeks time.
My husband quit smoking at the same time too and we’ve been saving our money for a trip to Florida. My son is coming too, it was his idea - he’s been asking for years to go. We’re going to do all the amusement parks. It’s nearly half full so far and I’m sure it will be full when we go in October.
I’m six months quit now and I feel so good, I can run up the stairs and I can see the difference in my breathing. I still wish I had never started smoking. To anybody thinking about quitting you have to do it for yourself but you don’t have to do it alone, there’s plenty of help out there to support from the Quit Team to help you along the way.