Denise started smoking around age 12 or 13 and has since quit for extended periods of time when she was pregnant with each of her four grown children, and another time when her doctor prescribed Wellbutrin. But, since Wellbutrin was contraindicated with another medication she was taking, she stopped using Wellbutrin and returned to smoking.
During the pandemic, Denise worked from home and began to smoke more often out of boredom and opportunity. She lit up as much as a pack and a half a day, she said, and noticed her hands turning color.
“My granddaughter was like, ‘Oh, Nanny, you smell like cigarettes.’”
That was a tipping point for Denise and, when her healthcare team at UW Health in Stoughton brought up the BREATHE 2 study, a partnership between UW Health, UW-CTRI and Advocate Aurora Health to help patients quit tobacco use, Denise said, “It’s time.”
She became a BREATHE 2 participant.
“I loved it. I thought it was the perfect mix of the phone calls, the support, the things to think about, the medication, everything you needed to succeed.”
She used the nicotine patch and nicotine lozenge. “The lozenges worked out great.”
Over time, she said she started to forget to put on the patch and naturally weaned off both.
“I feel great. I haven’t had to use my inhaler like I had previously for allergy stuff. So that has been a great benefit this winter compared to other winters.”
Denise doesn’t feel short of breath and doesn’t get sick as often.
“I have been touting this study to anybody and everybody who will hear me.”
She said she couldn’t have done it without her UW-CTRI Health Counselor Kathleen Cantu. “She was wonderful,” Denise said.
“If people ask, how did you quit, I say if you can get your primary care provider to get you into this study, do it. It worked wonders. If it worked for me, seriously, it has to work for other people.”
Her grown children are pleasantly surprised she pulled it off. She has been encouraging them to quit vaping.
She is glad she doesn’t have the anxiousness of running low on nicotine, needing to get to the store to get more, and paying for expensive cartons of cigarettes when she gets there.
Since quitting smoking, Denise bought a new car and met a new boyfriend. He doesn’t smoke and strongly supports her decision to stay smoke-free.
Denise says her boyfriend, children and granddaughter are strong motivators to keep it up. “I would never go back to smoking.”