Smoke-free for two decades: Karen Flanagan-McCarthy
I couldn’t have quit smoking without the ‘Countdown’ course I took at The Lung Association 21 years ago. And I am quite sure becoming a non-smoker has added years to my life. It certainly has added life to my years!
I smoked for 18 years. I got to the point where I was smoking a pack a day. My ‘ah-hah’ moment, when I knew I had to quit smoking, came when I realized I couldn’t climb two flights of stairs without taking a break. It was literally a ‘breathless’ moment at the start of each workday. I remember thinking, ‘I’m not going to make it to the age of 40 at this rate!’
It wasn’t easy to quit. I was working as a radio reporter. We couldn’t smoke in the studio anymore, but we could have a quick smoke in the smoking room just across the hall. Smoking was part of that news reporter culture. I couldn’t imagine myself as a ‘non-smoker’. Today, I can’t imagine that I ever smoked.
The course I took was great. I loved having the group support – and the support of another quitter, Joyce MacPhee, whom I met at the course. We would call one another between meetings when we had the urge to smoke.
Today, we’re still friends and still non-smokers. So thanks to the Lung Association for the very large role it has played my life.
A post-script to my story: After I’d been smoke-free for a year, the Lung Association in Ottawa approached me and asked whether I would like to lead the same course I had taken. I was. And I did, for two or three years. It helped me stay a ‘quitter’ and I loved helping other people make the same positive change in their lives.