“I never thought in a million years that I’d be able to quit smoking, but on December 6, 2011, I had my last cigarette, I turned in my ash trays, and I quit,” said Shanta Edwards, a rehabilitation aide at Paul’s Run Retirement Community who quit smoking with the help of The American Lung Association’s Freedom from Smoking program, which is provided to Liberty Lutheran employees free of charge. “I am very proud of myself. I haven’t had a cigarette since.”
Shanta started smoking 20 years ago, and decided to quit for her health. “I felt that it was time. I have high blood pressure and my dad has high blood pressure,” she said. “I’m healthier now because I quit. I wish I would have quit sooner, but it’s never too late.”
Shanta worked through the Freedom from Smoking program with Liberty Lutheran wellness coach Kelli McIntyre. The program provides educational materials, advice, and support. “Having a coach really helped. We wrote down when I smoked and talked about how I could change those habits. It was just a part of my life for so long,” Shanta said. “I didn’t think I could do it at first, but I did it without patches or gum. I just decided that it was time to quit and set my mind to it.”
When Shanta told her husband that she was going to quit smoking, he told her that he would also quit on the same day. She shared advice from the program with him, and they supported each other. “I suggest the Freedom from Smoking program to everyone,” Shanta said. “Quitting is the best thing that you can do for yourself and your family, and you will save so much money. My pockets are much heavier.” Shanta’s advice to those who are considering quitting is “Do it—it can be done.”
“I will never forget my last cigarette. It was at 2 p.m. on the loading dock at Paul’s Run, then I threw the pack away. I put a peppermint toothpick in my mouth on my way home because I used to smoke in the car. The first couple days were a struggle, but after that it gets better.” Shanta said. “I really thank my employer for providing me with this free program. The material, the education and the support really helped, and I am really thankful for that.”
All of Liberty Lutheran is going smoke free on September 1st, joining more than half of the country’s health care organizations. Liberty Lutheran employees who want to quit smoking should contact John Fairchild at 215-283-9999 ext. 199 or Kelli McIntyre at 215-934-3066.