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Anne's story

Anne quit smoking after having been a "3-pack per day chain smoker". Read her story to find out how she dealt with cravings, and how stopping smoking changed her life for the better.

I quit cold turkey 53 years ago at the age of 30. I am ashamed to say that I was a 3- pack per day chain smoker. Cigarettes were the first thing I reached for in the morning and the last thing I put down at night. We had had friends visiting from interstate for the weekend and we had much to talk about over plenty of wine and lots of cigarettes. It was all very enjoyable, but on Monday morning I woke up, hung-over, feeling tired and miserable, with a mouth feeling like the proverbial "bottom of a cocky's cage". The thought suddenly struck me that  I didn't want to go on like this. So I simply announced to my husband - a non-smoker - that I was quitting. He was very encouraging. I threw away all my cigarettes (I bought them by the carton!) and all the associated paraphernalia - ashtrays, cigarette lighters, cigarette holders. 

Having quit, I found it was very hard to get through certain times of day. I missed especially the ritual of lighting up after a meal, or in social situations, or the cigarette to help me relax once my two toddlers were in bed. I also missed the feeling of something in my mouth. Finding something to do instead was a challenge. To deal with the cravings, I found the best solutions (depending on the situation) were to clean my teeth, eat XXXX peppermints, drink iced water with lots of ice-cubes in it, or to  gently bite the inside of my cheeks.  I think all of these activities were just substituting one form of oral stimulation for another. 

After about four cigarette-free days, feeling cranky and irritable, I had a huge argument with my husband, then went out and bought a packet of cigarettes and lit up defiantly ("see what you made me do"). It tasted vile and I felt sick and dizzy. That was it. I made up with my husband, threw away the other nineteen cigarettes in the packet and have not touched them since. It took me a while to see myself as a non-smoker, though. For many years afterward, I had a recurring dream in which I was smoking. 

The benefits have been wonderful - as a non-smoker I have regained my senses of smell and taste; my house, my car and my clothes don't stink, I am not a social pariah, my fingers and the inside of my nostrils are no longer yellow, and at the age of 83 I am still an enthusiastic bushwalker, fitter than many of my friends. Even better, my kids don’t smoke. Not to mention the thousands and thousands of dollars I must have saved, especially as cigarettes are now so very expensive. 

Furthermore, my successful battle against my cigarette  addiction enabled me to take a different view of myself, which turn  led to some amazing lifestyle changes (including a new career and a new partner, but that’s another story).  I do, however, have residual effects from my 10 years of heavy smoking: mild (very mild) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a tendency to take a long time to recover from colds and flu. So far this has not limited my activities in any way and is a minor problem compared with what I would have faced had I not quit. 

Incidentally, one of the interstate friends  with whom we smoked and drank on that fateful weekend 53 years ago died of lung cancer, and the other died of pancreatic cancer.


If you have a quit story you'd like to share, email us at quit@cancervic.org.au. We'd love to hear from you.

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