Mary Henwood

Mary’s Story

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In honor of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, I would like to share my experience regarding ConnectCare3’s Tobacco Cessation program.

I started smoking when I was 11 and have smoked off and on for 31 years. I tried to quit several times with the help of nicotine replacement products. I tried wearing a nicotine patch at one point in my life, but it made my arm hurt and left me feeling ill. On three other occasions, I tried using the nicotine gum. I thought it tasted like cardboard and found it to be ineffective.

In February 2020, I saw a flyer offering a Tobacco Cessation program through ConnectCare3, a benefit available at no extra cost through my health insurance benefits. I had come to a point where I really hated the stench of cigarette smoke, along with how much it was costing me! I was ready to take whatever steps necessary to quit this awful habit. I called ConnectCare3, enrolled in the program, and was assigned to a Certified Health Coach named Phil.

Upon my first conversation with Phil, I was relieved to learn he doesn’t believe in a “one size fits all” generic plan to stop smoking. Having tried nicotine replacement products in the past without long-term success, Phil understood I needed a personalized quit plan that would allow me to gradually wean myself from nicotine and work toward a smoke-free lifestyle.

Phil requested that I provide him with a cigarette log weekly that showed him how many cigarettes I was smoking daily. He reviewed my smoking habits and created a customized quit plan for me. We scheduled a time to talk each week to discuss my smoking log and what daily stressors or life events had triggered an increase on a particular day. He held me accountable in a kind manner and applauded the days I demonstrated great willpower.

In the past, when I tried to stop smoking completely, I found myself getting angry when I couldn’t have a cigarette. My current quit plan allowing me to quit gradually has been the key to my success. Knowing in my mind that I could have a cigarette if I need it has made all the difference. However, most of the time, I find myself opting not to smoke, and I can’t wait to share my log with Phil.

Phil and I have discussed alternatives to smoking, and I have learned that instead of smoking, I need to focus on healthy habits.

I also enjoy statistics. The stats provided to me by Phil, based on my cigarette log, have been extremely motivating. I have lowered my cigarette usage by 53% since I began working with him. No, I haven’t quit completely yet, but I am confident I’m headed in the right direction.

With Phil’s support and constant encouragement, I have no doubt I’ll reach my goal of being totally smoke-free. Phil has definitely been the cheerleader I needed to support me on this journey to better health.

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