My mum's cancer made me stop smoking
Judith says she's thankful she gave up when she did.
I was 14 when I started smoking, and didn't stop until I was 56.
Back then, everybody smoked. It was a peer habit, it was the done thing. I didn't really know or appreciate what it would mean to me and my health in the future.
In my mind I believed I was safe. I'd always thought nobody in my family had been diagnosed with cancer, so I had nothing to worry about. That all changed when I found my mum coughing up blood.
A thunderbolt fired through my mind
I was at her bedside when she was told that she had lung cancer.
A thunderbolt fired through my mind as I realised she used to smoke years before. I made up my mind there and then. Stopping smoking was essential. Hearing that my mum had cancer made me realise that I had to give myself the best chance of staying well.
Some years earlier I had attempted to quit, but that was before you could get effective support. This time, I was determined.
I asked what aids were available and was given counselling to help kick the habit. A little plastic cigarette-type device (a precursor to the e-cig, perhaps) was really helpful for me. It would hit the back of the throat like a real cigarette.
I had nicotine patches too, but mostly used the plastic cigarette. I liked that I could hold it and use it in the same way I had for the last 42 years. It felt just the same. The counsellor told me to always keep one to hand in case I ever got the temptation.
I remember her saying it was like alcohol - just one puff could set off the whole addiction again. She helped me with other practical tips too. I was worried about putting on weight, so she encouraged me to have a hot chocolate instead of a snack if I wanted something sweet.
A new way of thinking
I began to realise that giving up wasn't just about not picking up a cigarette, it required a whole new way of thinking and lifestyle changes.
I was lucky to have the support of my husband along the way. We were going away after Christmas. I decided that would be a good time to give up, as I would be away from the places that I usually smoked. Going out of the back door to smoke became just a natural habit. Being in a different place for the first few days (which are always the worst) really helped me.
So just before we went away, I had my last cigarette - and I've never looked back. The real sense of achievement when I breathed into a carbon monoxide detector and the nurse could tell I hadn't smoked was fantastic. I felt very proud of myself.
Support from Breathe Easy
I was diagnosed with COPD 3 years ago. This was a blow, but I know now that because I no longer smoke there's a good chance I will live for many more years than I would have done otherwise.
I was referred to pulmonary rehabilitation, and one of the nurses there wanted to set up one of the British Lung Foundation's Breathe Easy support groups in the area. She asked if I'd be interested in getting involved and I jumped at the chance for 2 reasons: to help myself get more support and information, and to help other people.
I'm now the chair of the group, and I love the support we give each other. People call me at home and tell me their stories over the phone. The stories can be difficult to listen to sometimes, but it's heartening to know that the group can help them.
A few people have managed to quit smoking themselves since joining the group because of the support and advice we can give them. Nobody ever looks down on or criticises anyone else because we're all been there ourselves. Anyone can come along and be welcomed right away.
I feel up-to-date with everything, and I feel a valued part of the BLF. I'm very thankful for everything everybody does for us, it's never taken for granted.
I wish I could tell my 14 year old self not to start smoking in the first place, but I feel lucky to have been able to give up when I did.