What started as a tickle in his throat progressed to Graham having to endure months of brutal treatment involving daily doses of radiation and the strongest chemotherapy available.
After decades of smoking, the then 58-year-old Graham had developed an inoperable tumour on his tongue.
“The treatment was horrendous. I lost the ability to swallow. I had to have a feeding tube to keep me alive. I was given a 50/50 chance of surviving.
Months after my treatment ended, I was still having trouble breathing. Because I had smoked for so long, I had a few flat spots in my lungs. I was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma.”
It took Graham three years to recover from his treatment. He now has a strong message for smokers.
“If you smoke, quit while you can. Don’t be like me. For me, the damage is done.
Even though I’m alive today to tell the story, I can’t do life’s simple things or even walk down the street without gasping for breath. I’ve ruined my chances of enjoying the golden years of my life.”
Graham used to smoke up to 40 cigarettes a day but is now completely smoke-free. He says it’s important to understand your triggers and find ways to combat them.
“When I was trying to quit, different things would trigger me to smoke; a driver cutting me off on the road; an argument with my partner. Any time I needed to calm down, I’d want a cigarette.”
Triggers vary from person to person but once you have worked out what your triggers are, you can use strategies, like changing your routine or doing something to distract yourself, to avoid and overcome them.
Graham hopes his story inspires others to quit.
“Quit now because smoking is not worth it. It will catch up with you.”
If you’re thinking of quitting or just need tips and support, give Quitline a call on 13 7848 or SMS ‘call back’ to the same number to request a callback. Quitline is free, easy and you’ll chat with a trained Quitline counsellor who will listen to you without judgement. Learn more about what Quitline can do for you here.
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