Paddy Keeney takes a 5 km walk with his dog every day. It would have been impossible two years ago when he was still smoking because his breathing was too bad.
Paddy is 65 and started smoking at 22 and was a heavy smoker, smoking between 20 and 40 cigarettes a day. Cigarettes were the first thing he thought of in the morning and the last thing in the evening. There were always emergency cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco in the house.
In 2007, Paddy had a serious health crisis when he developed throat cancer. He managed to stop for three months at that time. But he ended up smoking again and soon smoked more than ever.
During a check-up, his consultant told him that she was going to take maternity leave and that she expected him to leave his job when he returned. Paddy was still smoking when the consultant had her second child. At the time, he thought that smoking would kill him rather than cancer.
Paddy quit drinking 20 years ago, but smoking was more difficult for Paddy to beat. He tried to quit every year. He tried many things – drugs, hypnosis and patches, but he kept coming back to cigarettes.
Paddy has used HSE Stop Smoking services on several occasions. He worked with Fiona Boyle, her smoking cessation nurse. It took a few tries to quit smoking. He remembers seeing Fiona pass in front of him as he crossed the road with a cigarette in his hand.
In 2018, Paddy had a mini-stroke. When he woke up, the first thing he wanted was a cigarette. Shortly after, he met Fiona again and told her the whole story.
They talked about what could help him this time. Willpower and NRT spray helped, but Paddy says Fiona’s support and patience really made a difference
Fiona never passed judgment if he slipped and was still at the end of the phone and never dictated to her. He says that with Fiona, trying to quit smoking was “not a big deal but not a small deal either.”
In September 2019, Fiona presented Paddy with a one-year resignation certificate. It was a great success to celebrate.
Paddy’s advice to anyone who wants to quit smoking is that it’s never too late. Even if you’ve tried it many times in the past, having the decision to quit smoking for good will really help. There is no magic cure, but getting the right help makes all the difference.
He encourages anyone who can to find out about their local smoking cessation service. Don’t be afraid to fail or be judged, the service is there to help you.
If this story inspired you and you want to quit smoking, call Fiona on Tel: 087 2514 790 for more information on one of the 13 free smoking cessation clinics in Donegal or contact the QUIT line on 1800 201 203
Posted: 2:41 p.m. June 29, 2020