"I finally quit smoking!"
Patty Deering; Chicago, Illinois
I remember swiping cigarettes from my grandmother when I was 16, and by the time I'd graduated from high school, I was a real smoker. The only times I can remember not smoking were when I was in the hospital giving birth to my children, who are now 13, 9, and 4. I knew I shouldn't smoke while I was pregnant, but I did each time. I'd hide in the kitchen. My husband, Robert, had been a smoker too, so he knew. We were very lucky -- I realized that smoking could cause my babies to have low birth weights, but thankfully, they were all fine. I still can't believe I exposed them to that risk. When they were little, I rationalized that smoking outdoors -- even in the rain and the freezing cold -- protected them from secondhand smoke. It got harder as soon as they were old enough to get on my case. Robbie and Jamie would steal my cigarettes or circle the warning label. Even though I knew they were just trying to say "I love you and don't want you to die," I'd get mad and say, "Give Mommy back her cigarettes!"
The hardest thing was watching Jill, my little one, pick up a pencil and pretend to smoke. That was heartbreaking. So when my office sponsored a "Quit even if you don't want to quit" program run by Northwestern Memorial Hospital, I decided to sign up. The structure of the program -- which included an ultralow dose of an antidepressant the first week, as well as a small nicotine inhaler and a support group -- gave me the motivation I needed. I haven't had a cigarette since May 2004.
Learn more: To find a smoking-cessation program near you, go to the American Lung Association's site, lungusa.org.