David Becker was a strong and confident 10-year cancer survivor who smoked two packs of cigarettes a day. The irony was not lost on him.
“Relating my cancer story to people while being an active smoker became something that I just couldn’t reconcile any longer,” said David.
After almost two years of steady encouragement from a tenacious primary care physician, David joined Parkland’s Smoking Cessation Program as a 32-year smoker determined to quit. It was not his first attempt to conquer the habit.
“I had tried quitting cold turkey on my own a number of times and was never successful,” said David. “I didn’t know there were tools that could help me.”
Parkland’s Smoking Cessation Clinic recognizes tobacco dependence as a two-part problem: physical addiction to nicotine and a habit. The clinic offers tools to address both, including weekly support classes, individualized consultation with a healthcare provider for medical therapy and behavioral counseling.
“Parkland laid out a program for me to quit using a number of tools, but you have to want to quit in order for the tools to work,” said David. “As I progressed through the program, I started feeling better about myself and my choices, and I just wanted to keep going.”
The clinic’s weekly support group continues to provide David motivation and inspiration.
“The group is a place where we can get together and strengthen our hope, listen to other people going through the same process, share what is working and relate to what each other is feeling,” said David. “We all have something to give each other there.”
More than six months smoke free, David appreciates the big and small benefits of kicking the habit.
“I can run for the bus without catching my breath; I take the stairs instead of an elevator; I am saving money; and food tastes better,” he said with a broad smile.
David is also benefitting from the ripple effect of making healthy choices.
“Making this one good decision has encouraged me to make other healthy decisions, and I am much better about addressing my other health needs,” he said.
The Smoking Cessation program emphasizes changing behaviors, and for David that change included discovering a park near his home where he stops by to walk, feed the ducks and enjoy the fresh air. He also plans to join a health club and get a new bike.
“Since I put down the cigarettes, I feel like I have a whole new journey in front of me which is a beautiful thing,” he said.
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