Meet Peggy: She Kept Trying and Quit Smoking

Better

Iora Primary Care is celebrating Older Americans Month with senior Stories of Strength. We are sharing these stories from our patients to offer hope, share their wisdom and connect one another virtually.

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It’s no surprise that it takes support to do something like quit smoking. With Peggy’s drive and the support of her Iora doctor and Health Coach, she hasn’t smoked in 7 months. Well done, Peggy — we are cheering you on every day!

Here’s Peggy’s Story:

I have a pretty positive attitude and I try to stay healthy. I’m going to turn sixty-six and I never take medications. However, last fall I hooked up with Iora Primary Care. My doctor had retired, and I hadn’t yet picked a doctor because I hadn’t had a need to go see one, so I looked into Iora because I really liked the philosophy behind Iora. For the first appointment, I ended up seeing Dr. Rick Kratche (who was filling in for my doctor who was out of the office) and during the initial visit they were going through my history and the doctor said to me, “I don’t get it. You’re a very healthy person and you try to eat healthy…so can I ask you, “why do you smoke?” and that was huge for me. I actually started crying because I’ve tried to quit so many times and I haven’t been able to stop. I was embarrassed to even keep trying. And then Dr. Kratche told me that I had some support, like Arizona Ash Line (ASHLine) and my health coach, Danah, got me all the information and we set up a weekly call between Danah and myself. Yesterday was officially 7 months of no smoking and sometimes it’s tough, but it only lasts for a bit. I keep straws in my car because I was used to eating and smoking right after. So now after I eat, I pull out a straw to replace the cigarette.

Wanting a cigarette only lasts for a moment, but it’s a salivating feeling. My health coach, Danah, helps me too. Danah would tell me to think of something else like do I need to buy laundry detergent? And I have used that technique so many times and it’s very true by the time you say it, it takes the place of the urge and it passes.

I’m around smokers all the time and there are times when I’m around my sister where I prepare myself and I convince myself not to smoke before I get to her place and she says she won’t even offer. So the support has been a great help.

There are times when I’m going to my daughters and I would pass by this gas station where I would buy my cigarettes. I try to call someone just to talk to avoid buying cigarettes.

Not smoking has also been huge because I don’t carry that shame and it’s not that people were shaming me, it’s that I shamed myself. I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I moved into my condo almost three years ago and I would only go outside to smoke and I avoided socializing with my neighbors, but now I join my neighbors. Even now during quarantine we all put a lawn chair outside and chat (within distance).

I know there’s huge financial savings too and anything I’ve saved, I’ve spent on art supplies to paint and I hadn’t painted in many years.

My motto right now is to live in the moment. I guess that’s really been my motto for a long time because we can plan for tomorrow, but we don’t have tomorrow, we only have now. So if I’m living in yesterday or tomorrow, I miss out on the present.

My biggest lesson in living in the moment was when my mother passed away about a little over six years ago and they didn’t give her much time and I was fortunate to live with her during her last days. It meant so much for me and for her. When I would start to worry about when her last day would be, my friend would remind me to keep my head where my feet are. Over those two months I spent a lot of time crying and she died just over two months after being diagnosed. I will say that was when my smoking really kicked in and I struggled with it ever since. It has been a great blessing to stop smoking, and I know my parents would be proud because it is something they both really wanted, especially my dad.

– Peggy

To read more inspiring senior stories, visit our Stories of Strength.