>Okay I am going to put it out on the table I used to smoke 1-2 packs a day for years. I had started when I was 16 and quit when I was 24. Thankfully I was young when I quit but man I smoked like a chimney! Of course it was the whole trying to fit in, trying to be cool but I didn’t expect to get addicted by any means, at least how seriously addicted I was. My parents knew I smoked my mom really didn’t say anything but my dad was pretty open about it and tried many things to get me to stop. He worked at a mental hospital and saw people with all kinds of diseases. Namely respitory diseases from smoking. he would tell me about people who had tracheotomies, lung caner, COPD and other horrors that can start from the smoking habit. It scared me but I soon forgot about it when I wanted to smoke again. How stupid is that? I mean he is sitting there telling me about these people that are DYING from smoking then I turn around and do it! That is addiction right there and that was I really knew that I was hooked on those things. I had tried to quit so many times it’s not even funny. I tried cold turkey all those times and everytime I would get around the crowd I hung with and went right back to smoking. Then another tactic would be me and a friend would decide to quit smoking together and we would do good for a while and do pretty good but then the partying would start and guess what? We would smoke… *sigh* it was a battle for sure and I couldn’t believe I was hooked at such a young age. Back then cigarettes weren’t too expensive but they cost too much for a teenager to be buying them. I mean why would you start such a habit at such a young age? Oh the perils of trying to fit in… I guess I thought everyone was doing it and that made it okay for me. Plus EVERYONE I knew smoked! It seemed impossible to quit, a huge mountain to climb. I knew I would not be a lifetime smoker or at least I had hoped but I had no idea how I would quit.

While I had been attending KVCC of course I still had the smoking habit but I really wanted to quit and I mean I REALLY wanted to quit. There was a day called National Smoke Out Day where it was a day where smokers would quit smoking for one day. Little did I know this was the day I would put the smoke out for good… There were pics posted from this site called http://www.whyquit.com It’s a site with all this info about what famous people had died from complications from smoking, young regular people who had died and current people who had been diagnosed with a smoking related disease who were chronicling their struggle with their disease and how hard it is to quit. These pictures that were posted around the school were two people who were in their early 30’s that were diagnosed with small cell carcinoma. A very aggressive form of cancer. One person had started smoking at the age of 13 and the other had started at the age of 16. From the day they had been diagnosed they were dead in 9 weeks. NINE WEEKS. I mean you don’t even have time to take in the fact that you are sick and then next thing you know you are gone, all because of smoking. When I had seen these pics and read their story I took my pack of cigarettes out of my purse and threw them away, since that day I have not looked back. I was literally scared out of smoking and that’s what it took for me to quit. I felt so free! I loved not wanting to smoke anymore! I was still vulnerable so I would always go back to that site and read about other people who had struggled with quitting and staying clean off of cigarettes. One woman’s story really caught my eye. Her name was Christine and she had been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer at the age of 36. She had started smoking at 13 and now in her mid 30’s she is struggling with this disease. She had a young daughter that was witnessing this struggle and had to be such a support to her mom during this time. I would go back to the site from time to time to check on her status, she would chromicle her treatments, how she felt physically and emotionally and keep everyone updated on how she was doing. you could see her getting better then getting worse with every entry but what I admired about this woman is she never seemed to give up and never seemd scared. What she was going through was absolute hell and for anyone having to deal with that at any age would be awful. She was not going down quietly and all of her entries made me want to read more, not that I had a morbid interest in her having cancer but just to see how she was.

Why am I telling you this? Why am I writing about it? Well I just checked back in on the site today it had been months since I have and I was pretty sad to see that Christine had died in June at the age of 39 from cancer. She had it for two years and that’s one hell of a struggle considering she was diagnosed at stage IV. For some reason this is really bugging me and I am so sad to read about her passing. I mean she had a daughter and a family that loved her also becasue I had been reading up on her and seeing her struggle. A part of me was hoping that she would survive and be a miraculous story but being diagnosed at that stage is never good. For those who still wonder why I don’t smoke or drink and why I am so passionate about fitness Christine is the reason why and those like her. Those habits that don’t seem like a big deal are and they can kill you. Smoking too much, drinking too much, eating the wrong foods too much are nothing but a death sentence. It may take a while but the affects will show up. Take care of your body and it will take care of you. Another lesson I got out of reading her story is cherish every moment and everyday because it is all a gift. You never know what challenges lie ahead….

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