I grew up in a time when it was legal to not wear a seatbelt or to secure a child in a car seat. Parents didn’t think twice about smoking at the park, in the house, or even in the car with their children for that matter. It’s easier to name the family and friends who didn’t smoke, than try to name those who did. Smoking was the norm in our community circles.
We lived in low income townhouses but always felt lucky to have what we did. When I was a child, my mother worked two or three jobs to support five kids and her only complaint was that she wanted more time with us. She wished we could have been that family who took a trip to Florida or Cuba once a year, but we weren’t. We learned to use our imaginations and create our own excitement.
When she would leave for work, I would tag along with my older brothers. I felt cool hanging with the older kids, which also exposed me to experiences that I wouldn’t have likely encountered at such a young age. Sometimes it’s hard to know where we fit in and we tend to do what we see. I was in an environment that was filled with teens of all ages. Many of my peers took to smoking and drinking; this was the path that I took as well during my most formative years.
As time went on I turned my life around in many ways. During my senior year, I became involved in school sports, was on the Student Council and wrote a weekly article for the local paper. These activities helped me kick my negative habits to the curb.
Unfortunately, my relationship with cigarettes would continue well into my adult life. I don’t believe that smokers can ever be non-smokers, we will always be smokers making better, healthier choices.
Sports, student council and writing were my support system in my earlier years. Now, with a family who loves and needs me, it’s much more difficult to just quit. I turned to the Canadian Cancer Society’s Smoker’s Helpline. They walked me through my goals and process, and ultimately, along with smoking cessation methods such as Nicoderm, I was able to make healthier choices.
With support from the Smoker’s Helpline, Nicoderm and my loving family, I started my journey to quit smoking. I took control and officially quit March 20, 2016. I wanted to quit and I did! I chose to not smoke for the people most important in my life—my children, my husband, my parents, my entire family, and for me.
I want my children to see me as a role model, not only regarding smoking, but as someone with perseverance and determination. Someone who can achieve their goals, no matter what it takes.
Every day, being smoke-free is a challenge, but it’s also a choice. The choice is mine to make, but it impacts everyone around me. Thankfully, I have support to make the burden lighter. If you are a mom struggling to quit, I encourage you to take the first step today. You are not alone.
The Canadian Cancer Society Smokers’ Helpline is a free service that provides personalized support, advice and information about quitting smoking and tobacco use. Service is available by phone, online or via text message.