Proud to be a quitter
Teenager Rachel Armstrong joined forces with Cancer Focus NI on No Smoking Day to urge smokers to kick the habit.
The 15-year-old started smoking when she was just 10.
“I had a few older friends who smoked and that where I got my first cigarette. Some family members smoked too, so I suppose I didn’t think it was such a big deal,” she explained.
“I didn’t smoke much at the start, just the odd one, but it gradually it got worse. By the time I was 13 or 14, I was smoking up to 20 a day.
“My parents were suspicious but if they smelled smoke around me I’d say I’d been with friends who smoked. One time Mum found 10 cigarettes in my room and she broke down and cried. I felt terrible – I like to be able to tell her things.”
Want to stop
“Then I met Doreen Regan – she works for Cancer Focus NI and came to my school to help pupils who wanted to quit. I told my parents after that and I’m glad I did – they are right behind me and that helps a lot. They were more relieved I was stopping than anything else.
“The work that Cancer Focus NI does with schools is great and really gave me the confidence and final push I needed to give up. It’s also good for students who feel they can’t tell their parents that they’re smoking,” she said.
Doreen told Rachel all about Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) including patches and gum, and gave her useful tips on how to cut down and eventually stop.
“I knew smoking was bad for me, but Doreen opened my eyes to all the harmful chemicals that are in cigarettes and long and short-term effects, which really brought home what I was doing to myself.”
“She was thrilled I wanted to stop. I had weekly meetings with her over a 12 week period and found her support and encouragement just what I needed to keep on track.
“I’ve tried to quit lots of times but it never worked. This time I started by cutting down for a few weeks and finally stopped on January 27.”
A reason to quit
“The main reason I wanted to stop was for my health. My aunt was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, even though she stopped smoking nine years ago, and my grandad, who died two years ago, had COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease),” she revealed.
“I was starting to feel out of breath compared to some of my friends, I could smell the smoke in my hair, on my clothes and on my fingers, I had a smoker’s cough when I woke up – it was disgusting.”
More pocket money
“As soon as I got any pocket money I was off to the shops to buy cigarettes. Now I can save up and buy myself a new top or make-up, which I enjoy a lot more.”
“I do feel proud of myself, and Mum and Dad are proud of me too!”
For advice and information on your local services visit www.want2stop.info and order a free Quit Fit. If you’d like to know more about Cancer Focus NI stop smoking servicesplease call us on 028 9066 3281 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.