A Year of Living Gratefully - Jane's Quit Story

Jane's Quit Story

Mature woman at beach looking at sky
Patrik Giardino / Getty Images

Like most smokers, Jane spent years wishing she could stop the vicious cycle of lighting up, day after day. Finally, on August 5th, 2006, she succeeded in putting out what was to be her last cigarette. It signaled the beginning of smoking cessation for her, and years later, she is still happily smoke-free.

In her account, Jane details her first smoke-free year and offers plenty of hope for those of us who are new to cessation or are still smoking and wanting to quit.

Congratulations, and thanks for sharing your story, Jane.

From Jane:

For 37 years I had one last cigarette before turning in for the night, every night. On August 5, 2006, I had one last cigarette that I hoped and prayed with all my heart would be the last cigarette of my life.

What would tomorrow be like? What would I feel like? What would I do with my hands? Today, looking back over the past year, this is what I see.

At One Month Smoke-Free

I was sitting at my dear friend's funeral. He died from complications of lung cancer. It was a very sad day.

I was grateful I had quit smoking.

At Two Months Smoke-Free

I was in sunny California. The past two months I had been flaky, sleepless, forgetful; a little mad and a little sad. At one point my husband asked me if I should really be driving a car!

I had also been busy reading and learning all I could about smoking cessation. I changed routines that held triggers and was trying my hardest to practice positive thinking until it would come naturally.

Basically, I was making quitting tobacco my job.

I think it took the first two months for what was in my head to get to my heart. I walked and walked and breathed in the beautiful air. I began to notice I could smell and taste again. My hair and skin looked better...everything was improving. The best change I noticed was that I was beginning to feel "free" and I was loving it.

I felt like Mary Tyler Moore when she throws her hat in the air.

I was grateful I had quit smoking.

At Three Months Smoke-Free

My friend May came to Nashville to visit her daughters. When she arrived, she was sick with what we thought was a chest cold. In a matter of days, she had seen the doctors, had a diagnosis and was getting ready for the fight of her life...she had lung cancer.

I sat with May and her daughters after their initial grueling day at the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center. I listened as they told me that the worst part of the whole day was not being poked and prodded; it was not having to hurry up and wait to see doctor after doctor; it was not setting up the chemo and radiation.

The worst thing of all was having to answer the question, "Did you smoke and for how long" over and over again at each stop.

Her daughters told me it was excruciating to have to hear their mom say the words, "Yes, I smoked for 35 years"...and listen as she was forced to repeat the words, many times over, that described why, more likely than not, she was facing this life-threatening illness.

I was grateful I had quit smoking.

At Four Months Smoke-Free

I was looking forward to Christmas, my first smoke-free holiday in 37 years.

WOW, what would that be like? My ickie threes had come a little late and were definitely making their presence known.

I was busy shopping, planning, cooking, wrapping, 'Tis the Season, Oh the Joy! The old me would have rewarded myself with a cigarette after each task; it was a favorite time. Smoke, sit back, look at what I had done and think about what I was going to do. Well, I couldn't do that anymore.

I think the stress, the fatigue of overdoing, and the sheer physical and mental exhaustion of dealing with my quit exploded on Christmas Day!

We were going to my mother's house, which was about an hour away.

I wanted to drive myself in my own car. At this point, I was not fit for human consumption and I wanted to be alone. Once in the car and driving down I-24, I had this thought: I could smoke and nobody would know. I pulled off the exit and there I sat in the Mapco parking lot digging through my purse looking for money.

All of a sudden, the nonsmoking slogans that fellow forum members use ran through my brain. Forum member Betty Blossom's soothing words and beautiful face ran through my brain; my fellow August ash kickers and the morning nope (not one puff ever) pledge ran through my head. I began to cry. I am crying now thinking about what I believe was a defining moment in my quit.

I was grateful I had quit smoking.

At Five and Six Months Smoke-Free

This time period was pretty uneventful. I was beginning to realize that the joy might just be in this journey. I was quitting smoking, but I was also growing as a person. I was calmer, more confident, and stronger. I was even beginning to appreciate the hard times of my quit. I recognized that after each "learning period," I was rewarded with a growth spurt and more feelings of true peace.

I was grateful I had quit smoking.

At Seven and Eight Months Smoke-Free

These months were memorable because the confidence I had gained from quitting smoking was starting to spill over to other areas of my life.

Through this forum I have always been inspired by other's stories of the confidence that quitting smoking gave them to try new things. My new thing was to run/walk half of the Country Music Marathon. When my workout buddies suggested it, I said, "I can't. I smoked." Then I thought: key word smoked. Let's see what I can do.

We started walking/running one mile three times a week, then two, then three and on and on. I could breathe deeply; I was not gasping or holding my chest in pain as I had in the past.

It's incredible how fast our bodies respond once we quit smoking. We had worked up to nine miles when I injured my foot. I had to drop out of training. Was I disappointed? You bet, but it was alright. I knew I would be back next year, even stronger. Besides, I was feeling happy. I was already winning the race of my life to be a nonsmoker.

I was grateful I had quit smoking.

Nine, Ten and Eleven Months Smoke-Free...

...almost took my breath away with the speed at which they flew by. Another month would roll around and I would find myself forgetting that it was "the 5th!" This, from a person who counted the minutes, hours, days and weeks when I first quit smoking.

If someone early on had told me I would forget that I had quit smoking, I would have said, "yeah and pigs fly," but this truly was the case.

Also around this time, I connected with forum members who had started a fitness thread.  This was helpful to me and I made some life-long friendships there.

I am grateful we have all quit smoking!

Today, at Twelve Months Smoke-Free

I am learning that success is not a destination. It can be a beginning -- the beginning of a new smoke-free life.

Graduations are called commencements for a reason. This past year has been a study in contrasts; up/down, happy/sad, scared/brave, but in the end, the most life-changing year I have experienced yet. It was frightening to change something that had been a part of my life for most of my life...but it was worth every uncomfortable moment!

When I think of what smoking takes from us and what we gain back in one short year, I am in awe. You cannot put a price on the feeling that washes over you when you realize you are free from the chains of this horrible addiction.

Some of you who have recently quit may have felt it for only minutes, hours, or days so far in your journey to a new life, but be patient and in time, you'll also know the peace that eventually comes with smoking cessation.

I am so grateful I have quit smoking!

Jane's Six Month Milestone

Continue Reading