“I thought long and hard about why I smoked. Frankly, for years I felt it was the only thing I gave myself. I didn’t use drugs or drink alcohol. But after cancer took both of my parents’ lives, I had to look in the mirror and examine my own situation. I realized that I didn’t want to die from smoking. In the past, I had managed to quit for a couple of months. Then I would become overconfident and convince myself that I could have a puff here or there. Every time, though, it pulled me back into the same old, stale routine. This time around I decided to take a different approach. I started to educate myself. I began by reading everything I could about addiction and smoking. I couldn’t believe all the toxins I put into my body. I began to slowly reduce my smoking. I went from a pack a day all the way down to 5 cigarettes a day before quitting. Changing my patterns was important, too. I avoided spending time on the front porch, my old smoking area. Instead of having a cigarette to reach for, I carried sunflower seeds or a bottle of water to satisfy my cravings. Five months smoke-free, I’m just grateful each day. I was under more stress as a smoker. The constant pull of the addiction and the control cigarettes had over my mind was paralyzing. I feel so much better as a non-smoker. I still battle the urge to smoke but it’s just a mental thing now.”