Marsha Poburka-Endres had no idea when she signed up for the Wisconsin Smokers’ Health Study 2 (WSHS 2) that her health was in imminent danger. Sure, she had smoked for 39 years, but otherwise ate well and exercised regularly. She had no symptoms of disease. But her WSHS 2 health tests in July 2013 revealed a lack of blood flow to her heart, blockage in arteries, and nodules on her thyroid.

With a family history of heart disease, her doctor didn’t take the results lightly. Within a few weeks, Marsha had triple-bypass heart surgery. She’s undergoing further tests to see if she needs to have her thyroid removed.

“I’m doing well,” Marsha said. “I’m very grateful to this program.” She’s glad she saw the news segment discussing the free study to quit smoking. “Something told me to come in.” She credits WSHS 2 with saving her life.

She appreciates the advice and encouragement she received from WSHS 2 Health Counselor Russ Kies. She used the patch and lozenge, and said they were tremendously helpful during the first month of cravings. “I’m still tempted, but I’m not going back. That would be stupid.”

Marsha wasn’t a fan of the study’s regular, automated phone calls that prompted her to provide feedback on her quit attempt—but said the calls helped her nonetheless. “You knew they were coming, and you wanted to press the button that said you didn’t smoke.”

Now six months smoke-free, her cholesterol has improved, and she feels terrific. The flight attendant no longer rushes to a smoking area after her plane lands. She’s encouraging her husband, an avid biker, to quit smoking, too.