Hertfordshire Grandmother urges smokers to quit now, before it’s too late
Next Wednesday is National No Smoking day (13 March) and thousands of smokers in Hertfordshire are being encouraged to go Smoke Free.
8,000 people across the county are helped to quit by the Hertfordshire Stop Smoking Service every year, with many getting started on No Smoking Day. Most people understand the huge health benefits of being smoke free, but it’s an important message that Judith Wilkinson from Letchworth is keen to share.
Judith, 66 is a grandmother of three, and was recently diagnosed with terminal lung cancer after more than 40 years as a smoker. Judith decided to quit on the day she got the news: “My cancer is caused purely by my smoking. I knew I had to stop to give myself the best chance. The NHS is working so hard to help me live for as long as possible and I felt if I carried on smoking, it would be a disservice to the doctors and nurses who are doing so much for me.”
Despite demanding rounds of cancer treatment, Judith’s outlook on life remains positive: “My chances of surviving 5 years or longer are something like 6% and I’ve decided that I’m just going to have to be one of those 6%. My husband and I have bought a new mobile home and we’re going to on holidays with our dog, and I’m going to be there as my grandchildren grow up.”
It was Judith’s GP who suggested that she get in touch with Hertfordshire Stop Smoking Service for support. “It was so important to know that there was someone supporting me. I was seeing Michelle, my stop smoking advisor every fortnight. Even now we keep in touch over the phone and I really look forward to my calls with her. Just knowing the clinic was available reinforced my will to break the habit.”
Having once been a 20+ a day smoker, Judith knows how hard it is to kick the habit. She once quit smoking for a full two years, before lapsing back into old ways. Judith says it’s important for people to identify their individual triggers that can make quitting so hard. “I’d come downstairs each morning, put the kettle on and make a cup of tea, then smoke a cigarette. If the phone rang, it didn’t matter who was calling, I would automatically light up again.
“Even once I’d quit, I’d get in my car, start the engine, put my seatbelt on and then I’d look for a cigarette. In my head I’d say to myself, ‘No! You don’t smoke anymore!’”
With the help of the Hertfordshire Stop Smoking Service, Judith has now been smoke-free for three months and her experiences have helped encourage some of her friends to quit too. Judith said: “What really matters to me is that whatever happens now, I know that by sharing my story that something good will come from all of this.”
Elizabeth Fisher, Health Improvement Manager at NHS Hertfordshire, said: “Judith’s story is one that many people face every day, and the determination and courage Judith is showing is outstanding. Unfortunately there are many cancers that are caused by smoking and not just cancer of the lungs, mouth or throat.
“The latest TV campaign by the DH shows how healthy body cells easily mutate to become cancerous. Stopping smoking won’t prevent all cancers but it will significantly reduce the risk of developing cancer and other diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema), heart disease and stroke.
“Stopping smoking is also important for people like Judith who have been diagnosed with cancer and are receiving treatment. It helps improve the person’s general health and fitness to help them cope with the treatment and it also increases the effectiveness of cancer treatment. Stopping smoking at any age has health benefits, but the biggest gains are made by stopping before the age of 30 and before thinking about having a baby.”
Colette Wyatt-Lowe, Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Care, added: “It’s never too late to stop smoking as there are always health benefits to be gained. The Hertfordshire Stop Smoking Service offers excellent advice on how to quit and I urge anyone who wants to stop or needs advice to get in touch. I’d also like to thank Judith for sharing her courageous story with everyone – I hope her determination encourages others to stop smoking.”
To get advice or book a one to one appointment with trained stop smoking advisors, call the Hertfordshire Stop Smoking Service on 0800 389 3 998, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website: www.smokefreehertfordshire.nhs.uk
The service can offer effective behavioural advice and tips to manage cravings. There are medications that can help you and the advisors can help find the right medication, which is available for the cost of a prescription - much cheaper than buying over the counter. If you don’t pay for a prescription - medication is free.
For more information contact the NHS Hertfordshire press office on 01707 369705
Notes to editors
Judith Wilkinson has kindly agreed to be available for further media interviews on request.
No Smoking Day merged with the British Heart Foundation in 2011. The annual No Smoking Day campaign, which is now in its 30th year, inspires and helps smokers who want to quit, and is supported by an alliance of UK health bodies and charities.
For more information on the benefits of quitting as well as top quit tips, visit www.wequit.co.uk