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Losing loved ones was the wake up call for one lifelong smoker

Wayne Baxter, aged 61, from Ashbourne has smoked since he was just 5 years old but has seen many of his friends and family pass away from smoking related illnesses.

Wayne said:  “My family has a history with cancer. I lost my brother not long ago through smoking, my mum and all her sisters - all smoking related - lung and throat cancer.”

Wayne also had lots of smoking related illnesses including COPD, asthma and has had a near brush with throat cancer.

He said: “I had lumps in my throat and was finding it hard to swallow. I was taking painkillers every two or three hours and always wanted to be sick, plus I was addicted to cough sweets.”

Wayne was sent to a specialist to find that his oesophagus was red raw and he was advised that he was on the verge of getting throat cancer.

He says: “As I was sitting there waiting to go in I could see people coming and going. A woman came out and she had a tracheostomy - a hole in her throat.

“Another woman was crying and I thought no, I can’t carry on like this.”

Despite being shaken Wayne didn’t quit immediately. He said: “I was getting more and more poorly and I was laid up in bed.

“I’d be up for an hour and then tired, worn out, getting up, being sick, smoking and that is when I approached the service - I had had enough.”

Wayne had quit with support in the past but went back to his old habits. However, he’d kept the Live Life Better Derbyshire contact card pinned up on his wall.

He said: “Everyone was advising me that I had to do this, my doctors, my COPD advisor, but I don’t know if I was ready to do it last time. But I think this time, this illness really triggered me so I picked up the card.”

Wayne opted for telephone support and his advisor Vicky called every Thursday morning.

The support included quit tips, how to deal with cravings and advice on how to deal with situations where you might be tempted to light up.

He received free NRT patches and inhalators and has just achieved his 12 week quit certificate.

Wayne admits that is wasn’t always plain sailing. He said: “I wasn’t sure at first if I was doing the right thing, I still had the cravings for smoking, but deep down I knew that I had to do this.

“I have been at a point where I have only had £10 in my pocket, no food and thought what shall I get food or smokes? I’d buy cigarettes - and I have done that on many many occasions.”

Wayne is already feeling the benefits of packing up for good. Not just on his health but in his wallet too.

He said: “I have managed to buy a cheap car, a banger, and insure it and the health benefits, well I cannot begin to tell you.

“I used to walk to Ashbourne and back and have to stop - it got so bad that I felt like slinging my shopping!

“But now I can go up and down, I’m still a bit wheezy but nowhere near compared to what I was.

 “I have asthma and before I quit I went for a test and she said your lungs are really bad. I also have COPD and my readings were very high.

“I used to struggle to even breathe into the machine, but since I packed up smoking it has been so much easier, everything has just cleared.”

Wayne is delighted with the support that he’s received from Live Life Better Derbyshire and says that quitting has more than likely saved his life.

“I think the loss of people in my life - my mate died not long ago, all my family, all smoking related - made me realise that I didn’t want to be a statistic.

“I’m 61 and I think, no I know, that if I had carried on I wouldn’t be here much longer.”