Like so many smokers, Pam Paduano spent years trying to quit. As a young mother (she never smoked when she was pregnant), she remembers sitting her two children down when they were little and making them promise never to do what she had done.
“I said to them please don’t ever smoke because I do and it’s an addiction and I can’t quit. If someone says smoking is cool they are lying to you.”
It would take another 25 years before Pam was finally able to quit for good. Four different times she sought professional help to do so, only to relapse a few months later.
The fifth time was different.
“I put my cigarettes at the foot of the cross of Jesus and said ‘I offer these to you Lord that I cannot smoke anymore,’ I couldn’t do it on my own. I begged for help.”
Already suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) after 37 years of smoking, Pam’s condition was deteriorating to the point where she was being hospitalized. It was during one of those visits to the ER that a doctor told her time was running out.
“I just thought to myself – I want to live and I don’t want cigarettes to dictate how long I’m going to live,” says Pam, 62.
That was October 24, 2014. She came to CAMH’s Nicotine Dependence Clinic, where she received clinical guidance and support. She kicked the habit and more than 2½ years later, with the continuing support of the Smoking Treatment for Ontario Patients (STOP) program, she is living a tobacco-free life.
“I needed that support,” says Pam. “The people monitoring me, telling me I was doing a good job. My sister was so happy. My kids were so happy.”
Now dependent on oxygen for daily living, Pam finds it a lot easier to convince kids today that smoking is not cool.
“I went to the store the other day and this teenage girl outside stops me and asks if I could buy cigarettes for her. I said ‘You want me to do what? Do you see what I have with me? Do you see the oxygen? That’s because of smoking.’ I just shook my head and walked away.”
After so many relapses, Pam isn’t taking anything for granted. She still makes a point of avoiding some of the regular smokers who used to try and tempt her to light up again. Now she wants others to know that if she can do what she long thought was impossible, others can too.
“I am proud of being able to quit and I want to help others,” she says. “I want people to know it’s a day-to-day process. You get up in the morning and don’t think about having a cigarette and then go from there.”
For tips on how to incorporate smoking cessation into an overall health and wellness plan that includes better sleep, nutrition, stress-management and physical activity, check out the links on our Nicotine Dependence Clinic home page.
Published on May 31, 2017