Jacki's Quit Story - A Study in Courage

"I am 45 years old and I have COPD..."

Photo © Jacki

This quit story is an especially poignant one...compiled and narrated by About.com Smoking Cessation forum member, Catherine (forum ID: Catherine2007), it serves as a tribute to a very special woman, Jacki (forum ID: PrettyMomma5). Sadly, Jacki is unable to share her own story at this time because she is in such a weakened state from the smoking-related disease she suffers with. Her dear friend and supporter, Catherine, has therefore graciously stepped up to do what Jacki herself cannot.

My heartfelt thanks go out to Jacki for sharing her unfailing courage and determination to quit smoking in the face of debilitating illness. This show of strength has been a guiding light for so many in our forum community who are looking for freedom from nicotine addiction. Jacki's journey has been a priceless gift for all of us. Many thanks also to Catherine for sharing Jacki's story.

Please read Jacki's quit story and take the underlying message to heart: smoking-related disease can strike at any age, and when it does, it ruins our quality of life long before it kills us.

Throughout this account, Catherine's comments will be shown in italics.

Jacki's Quit Story

In honor of my friend, Jacki, I am going to write her story through a selection of her past forum posts because her condition does not permit her to do so herself. This is my gift of love to a very dear friend who has shown so much courage in the storm of adversity.

Jacki was born on October 23, 1961. She picked up smoking at the tender age of 11. Back then, Jacki didn’t realize she would eventually die a smoking-related disease. Had she known, I am most certain she would have never taken that first puff.

Jacki was diagnosed at the age of 38 with lung disease, but because of the power of nicotine addiction, she continued smoking.

It wasn’t until she simply couldn’t breathe any more that she finally put cigarettes down for good.

So, let me introduce Jacki to you through this post she shared with the forum 6 weeks into her quit program. It summarizes in her words what the final straw that got her to quit smoking was:

September 11, 2007:

  • There are a thousand reasons that I could come up with for wanting to quit smoking. For instance, I am 45 years old and I have COPD consisting of premature genetic emphysema/bronchitis, chronic respiratory failure, with secondary pulmonary hypertension, osteoporosis and high blood pressure.

    I have been sick with these diseases for 8 years, which is three years longer than the doctors gave me to live when I was first diagnosed. I am on 5 liters of oxygen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I only have 15 percent use of my lungs left. I am in a power wheelchair and haven’t been able to work for 5 years. I can’t go for long walks on the beach or anywhere for that matter. I miss having a normal life!

    Personal hygiene is another issue. I haven’t been able to shower like a normal person for so long. Sure, I bathe daily -- it just takes a couple of hours to complete the task. Maybe I could enjoy a relaxing bath, if they were relaxing. How can they be relaxing though, when I am constantly trying to catch my breath!

    I used to be into swimming, bowling, shooting pool, dancing (for a living, if you can believe that) and jogging. None of which I can participate in any longer.

    Chronic respiratory failure is such a scary condition to have. It feels like you are literally dying...as if someone is suffocating you with a pillow. This happens almost any time I exert myself in any activity. Can you imagine how much this sucks and how dependent you become on people because of it?

    The dependency is something that puts a burden on your children, and is the worst feeling any parent can ever experience. I feel I have robbed my son of his teen years.

    All of the above have been factors in my decision to quit smoking. Boy, am I glad I started down that demonic journey. It has finally become a peaceful journey and for that I am so thankful.

    I guess the final straw that made me quit smoking is that I do not have a life any more and won't until I do away with the nicodemon. I am reclaiming what is left of my life as my own! And maybe with the help of science I will have a long future.

    I am continuing with my journey -- one day at a time.

    Page Two - Thinking about Bilateral Lung Transplants

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