I started smoking when I was sixteen or seventeen because I wanted to fit in with my friends. I wanted to be one of the ‘bad boys’. The crazy thing is that when I first tried smoking, it would make me sick. I had to practice to be able to smoke without getting sick.
I got married at 21 years of age and starting having kids at 22. From the time my kids could start to draw, they were colouring pictures of black lungs and leaving them on the fridge. My entire family wanted me to quit smoking. The kids would break my cigarettes if I left them out. They hated the smell; they hated everything about it.
Because my family wanted me to quit, I did try. I spent thousands of dollars on everything out there - gum, patches, hypnosis, acupuncture. If there was a possible solution, I tried it, but nothing worked. I “quit” many times but the longest it ever lasted, before I quit for good, was 3 days. After four decades of smoking, I was completely addicted.
One day I was heading upstairs to bed and I couldn't catch my breath - I thought I was dying. I promised myself if I woke up in the morning I would never smoke again. And I didn't. I had finally found my reason to quit.
A few years after quitting, I noticed that I was feeling breathless and after consulting doctors, I was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). I was told there was little hope for my future. I was shocked. I knew I had a lot of living left to do! After some research I learned about the pulmonary rehabilitation program. Several times a week, I take part in a specialized exercise program as well as educational sessions to learn about COPD. There is no cure for COPD, but it can be managed. By exercising consistently in a safe environment, I am able to manage my COPD. I am in better shape now than I have been in years. The benefits of exercise are endless for the body, mind and overall attitude.
I encourage anyone who smokes, and is considering quitting or cutting back, to join Saskatchewan Quits. There will be support for you with education sessions, wellness sessions, and most importantly encouragement and support from others going through the same journey.
Join us on the journey and find your reason to quit!