Dunmurry mum Suzanne Patterson (48) feels like a new woman since she gave up smoking 17 months ago with help from the Cancer Focus Northern Ireland Stop Smoking Service.
Suzanne, a receptionist at Dorman and Sons printers in Belfast, smoked for 32 years, and urged other smokers to ditch the habit even after No Smoking Day, which takes place on March 8.
Suzanne said, “I was about 16 when I had my first cigarette. I fainted when I tried to inhale but it didn’t put me off. It was the ‘in thing’ to do. Before I knew it, I was a smoker.”
Suzanne tried to stop a few times, but failed.
“Eventually, I realised that I wanted to stop for good,” said Suzanne. “I wasn’t enjoying it any more, I was doing it from boredom and only smoking half a cigarette at a time. I was breathless when I was going up stairs or out for a walk and hated the smell. It was costing me nearly £50 a week.
“It’s like you are tied to the cigarettes. I almost panicked if I didn’t have any left at work and you knew you couldn’t get one until home time. It was like nails scraping on a blackboard to me, it was a terrible way to be. I hated them but I needed that bit of help just to get off them.
“Then, in 2015 both my brother and my future daughter-in-law Amy’s mother were diagnosed with cancer, both terminal. Amy said to my son that I should stop, she couldn’t bear to lose two mums. That really touched me.”
Suzanne saw a poster for the Cancer Focus NI Stop Smoking clinic and made an appointment to see a smoking specialist.
“Suzy O’Kane was fantastic,” she said. “She didn’t put any pressure on me. I had already cut down from 20 a day to 10 and then 8.
“We picked a date for me to quit, Suzy said even if I didn’t stop on the day we had chosen not to feel at all guilty, and that was exactly what I needed to hear, that even if it didn’t happen then it eventually would.”
But Suzanne had a drawback when her sister-in-law died.
“Suzy was very reassuring. She said we could set a new date which made me feel a lot better about it,” she said.
Suzanne finally took her last cigarette one Saturday night and never looked back.
“I knew in my heart this was it this time,” she said.
“Now, I’m getting healthier. I go out for walks. Just being able to breathe properly is wonderful.”
For more information visit the PHA’s Want 2 Stop website at www.want2stop.info where you can also order a Quit Kit free of charge.