Wellness Week Contest Winner Lynne Pitcher Shares Her Quit Smoking Journey
Lynne Pitcher, 37, Riverview, NB, credits her daughter Sophie, 5, for being the inspiration and strength she and her husband, Rob Pitcher, needed to break free from their personal prison as smokers to be able to now proudly live tobacco-free.
Photo: Lynne Pitcher and her daughter Sophie.
“Like many people, I started smoking in high school,” she tells us. “Back then, smoking was still allowed on school grounds, and at my high school, there was this thick cloud of second-hand smoke where all the smokers hung out. You would have to go through this big cloud of smoke to enter the student entrance. Nowadays, I can’t even believe it used to be like that!”
Most people in Lynne’s life never knew she was a smoker or would only find out later in her life, since she avoided smoking in front of immediate family as much as possible.
“I had always been considered kind of a goody two-shoes, never wanting to do anything wrong, so most people would never imagine that I would start smoking. It was all about social acceptance for me. The first few times I smoked on the school grounds, I was suddenly considered cool and invited to parties. I did not have many friends prior to that. So, during my teenage years, smoking was this thing I did because it felt good to be considered cool and have people want to be around me. But I was ashamed of it too, and I kept it hidden from my parents and many others for as long as possible.”
Lynne’s smoking would become more engrained into her daily routine once she reached adulthood and became more independent. “When I started living on my own, I did not have to sneak out and smoke, I did not have to hide it anymore. I could smoke wherever I wanted. I met my husband, Rob, when I was 19. He was already a smoker before meeting me, so when we started dating, our lifestyle quickly became dependent on our smoking routine. But even as I smoked more and more, I kept being ashamed of it and would only smoke around people who knew I was a smoker. I continued to avoid smoking in front of my parents, family, and non-smoking friends.”
“I tried many times over the years to quit. For a while, on the patch, I was smoke-free for about 6 months. But I was never able to totally break free from it. I would end up craving a cigarette and tell myself that I would have just one, and then I was back to being a daily smoker again. Finally, my resolve would strengthen after my wedding when I found out I was pregnant and expecting our first child. I knew I wanted and needed to be the healthiest version of myself for this baby. I have always felt that my daughter, Sophie, saved my life. I would probably still be a smoker if I she had not entered our lives. Being pregnant allowed me to quit cold turkey with barely any cravings. I loved being pregnant and it’s almost as if my daughter was giving me strength from within. I had a lot of happy pregnancy hormones that kept me going and the determination to succeed.”
The couple also lost Rob’s father to lung cancer a few months into Lynne’s pregnancy. He had always been a heavy smoker. It was quite a wake-up call. “We were soon going to be parents. I had been able to quit smoking and I was completely scared for my husband and our family’s future if he remained a smoker. I pleaded with him to quit for the sake of our family.”
It was much harder for Rob though. Working in the restaurant industry meant that many colleagues smoked during breaks, so he kept being exposed to smoke which only fuelled his cravings. “His addiction to nicotine was a lot stronger and more physical than mine,” says Lynne. “When he had a craving, he would have to have a cigarette right then and there. You could see it in his physical behaviour. He would twitch and just be uncomfortable; whereas, when I was a smoker, I was often able to hold off from smoking during the entire workday, but then I would chain smoke in the evening when I got home. So, while Rob did want to quit, he had a much harder time than me. He, of course, no longer smoked around me since I became pregnant. He would end up giving in to his cravings and go smoke outside.”
Baby Sophie would once again intervene. “Rob suddenly got very sick not long before I was due to give birth and was in such a rough shape that he didn’t have enough strength to go outside for a smoke. When he was finally better, he decided it wasn’t worth smoking anymore. He had his last cigarette on a Saturday and, by the following Tuesday, Sophie was making her entrance into the world earlier than expected. Like any new father, Rob was completely in love with his little girl. Sophie was truly the salvation he needed to quit smoking for good. Rob went through a lot of withdrawal symptoms, and it was very hard on him physically, but he slept off cravings or kept himself busy with the baby and held strong thanks to Sophie. We both never looked back.”
Lynne is forever thankful for the lifestyle change her little girl inspired her to make. “Our home is 100% smoke-free. We are both so much healthier. And we learned better coping skills. In the past when we felt stressed, we would reach for cigarettes. Since we could no longer do that, we had to learn some stress management strategies, which are great to know when you are a parent. We had to learn to be more patient too. We are both in a happier mental state since becoming non-smokers. We even recently welcomed a second child into our smoke-free home, our beautiful boy Liam, who is now one year old.”
Lynne says her experience as a smoker is one she hopes her children never repeat, but she plans to be honest with them when the time comes to talk to them about it. “Of course, I never want them to touch a cigarette, but I also hope they will be honest with me and talk to me about it if they are ever thinking about it. I want to be honest about my past with them and hope that it will be enough to deter them from trying.”
Bravo Lynne and Rob! May you continue to enjoy your smoke-free home and lifestyle – truly the best gift you could have given your children!
Photo: Lynne is proud to raise her two children, Sophie (5) and Liam (1), in a smoke-free home environment - indoors and outdoors!
Story and photos used with permission from Lynne Pitcher.
Published in December 2018.
Author: Nathalie Landry – Communications Coordinator, NBATC
Published in December 2018