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Canadian Cancer Society
Prince Edward Island
Breaking Up is Hard To Do
12 January 2012
She felt like she was losing her best friend. When it happened, she became depressed and was physically ill for days. But Kerri-Wynne MacLeod says quitting smoking is the best thing she’s ever done. “As my grandmother used to say, ‘Things that are worth the most, are worth the effort,’” says MacLeod.
A well-known broadcaster and popular singer, MacLeod knew her pack-a-day habit was taking its toll but she says she was in denial about the serious damage smoking was doing to her health. “I smoked for 30 years yet I didn’t openly admit it. It was embarrassing and I certainly didn’t talk about it on-air.”
MacLeod isn’t alone. Sixty percent of smokers claim they would like to quit within the year but they often don’t believe they can do it.
MacLeod says she tried quitting many times but finally the social stigma around smoking drove her to give up cigarettes for good. I was mentally ready,” says MacLeod. “I just didn’t want to be a smoker any longer.” However, MacLeod admits it wasn’t easy. “At the time, I couldn’t imagine my life without them, but now, seven months later, I can’t imagine ever smoking another cigarette.”
The challenges faced by MacLeod, and others like her, is reflected in the theme of this year’s National Non-Smoking Week: “Breaking up is hard to do”.
The Canadian Council for Tobacco Control designates a week in mid-January as a time to raise awareness of the benefits of not smoking and to encourage people to quit. This year, National Non-Smoking Week is from January 15 – 21, with Weedless Wednesday on January 18th.
“Breaking Up is Hard to Do”, are lyrics in a well-known Neil Sedaka love song. Those words also reflect the reality faced by people trying to end a relationship with cigarettes.
“Smoking is an addiction and breaking free from that addiction can be very challenging,” says Lori Barker, Executive Director of the Canadian Cancer Society, P.E.I. Division.
The Canadian Cancer Society says thirty percent of deaths related to cancer can be prevented by not smoking. “The reality is, smokers who quit live longer and are healthier than those who continue to smoke,” says Barker. “In fact, people will begin experiencing the health benefits within the first few hours of being smoke free. For example, oxygen levels return to normal within a day.”
“That’s a strong motivator,” says MacLeod. “I want to be around when I’m 60. I want to be here for my daughter who is only 19. My biggest fear was that I couldn’t do it. I really, really, really was addicted and didn’t think I had it in me to quit because I was so addicted.”
Now MacLeod is proud of being tobacco free. “I didn’t think last May that I would ever get to this state where my mind and body are free of something that weighed me down for years. Now I can breathe. I have no apprehension when I start to sing. I don’t have to worry about hitting the high notes and I don’t have to reach for a puffer before I go on-air. It’s totally awesome.”
The 46-year-old radio broadcaster used laser therapy to help her in the beginning. “They encouraged me to pick an affirmation and repeat it whenever I needed it. I still say: ‘I’m going to live a healthier lifestyle.’ It can help but it also takes determination,” says MacLeod. “There is no magic solution; you have to find what will work for you.”
The Canadian Cancer Society encourages people to contact Smokers’ Helpline at 1-877-513-5333 or on-line at www.smokershelpline.ca for easy access to a trained Quit Coach. They help individuals develop a structured "Quit Plan" tailored to them, answer questions about quitting, and refer people to support services in the community. For further information go to www.cancer.ca
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.
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