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Personal Story:

Determined to be a Quitter

Carolyn Rucker has a story to tell. It’s a story about conquering a nicotine habit of nearly 60 years as a cigarette smoker. She is a quitter. A determined quitter. So determined in fact, that the story of her “journey” to quit smoking plays out more like a blip on the screen between her morning TV shows, than it does a saga of multiple quit attempts or lengthy battles with on-again, off-again cravings and withdrawals.

Carolyn started smoking almost 60 years ago at the age of 13. It was the cool thing to do back then because lots of her friends that age smoked too. It’s a rationale that is heard often.

Back in 1992, she did make one single quit attempt in her decades-long smoking habit. That’s when doctors told her husband, who was also a smoker, he must quit due to a failing heart condition. She decided to quit alongside him in support, but when his attempt failed just shy of two months, she saw no reason to try it alone. These few weeks were the only days in Carolyn’s lifetime since the age of roughly 13, that she was smoke-free. Five years later, her husband passed away.

For many years after, Carolyn remained a consistent smoker, where a typical day might include a little more than a pack of cigarettes a day, along with visiting with her daughters who live nearby her home in Tennessee, or going to the grocery store, or watching her morning TV shows.

One daughter set a mandate that her mother would not smoke inside her home, ever. Carolyn complied until a cold January day – January 25, 2017. Carolyn decided enough was enough.

“I just decided to quit,” she said.

She picked up the phone, called the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine and spoke to a counselor. Two weeks later, she received a package in the mail that included a QuitKit – a workbook of information and tools that can help tobacco users anticipate and react to smoking or chewing tobacco triggers, exercises to identify and deal with cravings and how to overcome them, and worksheets that help you personalize a Quit Plan with your assigned counselor, your doctors or your family.

Carolyn never opened the QuitKit. But she did open and use the two boxes of nicotine patches that were provided. And just like that, the sheer determination of mind-over-matter made all the difference.

Carolyn was a quitter because she decided to be a quitter. And she reaped almost immediate benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), within 20 minutes of not smoking, your heart rate begins to drop to a normal level. Within two hours, your blood pressure returns to normal and your circulation improves. The benefits continue to increase as your risk of heart attack declines just 24 hours after quitting.

Each year, the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine and similar services in other states, help thousands by providing no-cost tobacco cessation services and support to anyone who has a desire to quit smoking or wants to free themselves from the powerful grip of tobacco. Quitline services in all states can be accessed through a toll-free national portal number provided by the National Cancer Institute at 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669).

About atom Alliance

atom Alliance provides technical assistance to help providers and practitioners develop strategies for reaching and educating patients to prevent heart attacks and strokes:

  • Appropriate Aspirin Therapy for those who need it
  • Blood Pressure Control
  • Cholesterol Management
  • Smoking Cessation

We also facilitate collaborative meetings and discussions among stakeholders through a Cardiac Learning and Action Network (LAN). Stakeholders include participating providers, practitioners, patients and/or their family members, patient advocates and partners. We work together to share information, resources, and strategies to achieve goals for target populations, including racial and ethnic minorities and dual eligible patients.

Learn more: http://atomalliance.org/initiatives/improving-cardiac-health-reducing-disparities/