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It took Williamsville woman 10 times to kick cigarettes, but it was worth it

Melissa A. Day grew up in a house where both parents smoked.

She didn’t like it, and was thankful when they both decided to quit.

By then, she was hooked – and took several stabs over the next three decades trying to quit herself.

She gave her son, Carl, 17, permission to give her a hard time about her smoking whenever he wanted. He did, often.

“It was just another reason to quit,” said Day, who started smoking at age 18 during college.

Patches, cold turkey, Chantix – “I tried everything,” she said.

“Somewhere in my smoking career, I heard a statistic that it takes the average smoker 12 times to quit smoking. So I didn’t feel like I was a failure because I tried to quit and hadn’t. I just felt I hadn’t found the right way yet.”

She quit after her 10th attempt, and has this to say to those still hooked on tobacco products: When you try to quit and falter, try, try again.

“I don’t want to couch (failed attempts) in a discouraging way,” said Andrew Hyland, chairman of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute Department of Behavior. “Think of that as a learning process.

“It might take several quit attempts, but that next quit attempt may be the one that’s successful, so when you think you’re ready, give it a try. There’s no magic bullet.

“You have to want to want to quit. You’re going to have to be willing to make some changes in your routine. You need to be willing to tough it out. There’s going to be ups and downs and you have to remember why you wanted to quit in the first place.

“It’s not just a matter of willpower,” Hyland added during an interview earlier this month for today’s cover story package in WNY Refresh. “Nicotine is an addictive substance and most people who started didn’t know what they were getting into. They saw the ads, they saw the movie stars and they thought it was a cool thing. Then they got in a little bit too deeply and it was too late. This is not to blame the smoker. If anything, it’s to blame the industry for promoting a product that they’ve known to be so addictive and lethal for decades."

Day, 48, a Lake View native who lives in Williamsville, is a lawyer who specializes in workers’ compensation cases. Her father was a surgeon; her mother, a nurse. They are among those who fell under the sway of nicotine – and persevered in their efforts to quit.

Day’s husband, Michael Ryan, stopped smoking with her last year.

He switched to e-cigarettes.

Day decided she would face her addiction to nicotine by going off the drug, completely.

But during her latest try – 494 days ago – she enlisted the help of the UB Quit program, which has distilled the most effective quit smoking techniques into a structured three-week program that not only looks to help smokers break the physical addiction to tobacco, but the behavioral addiction as well.

Because of the strategies in the program – several of which are outlined in today’s cover story – “I felt like I was well prepared,” Day said.

She created a mantra that she read whenever she found her will weakening. It said, simply, “I want to live.”

“I got so much support from my friends and my family,” she said.

She posted her plan to quit on her Facebook page, and said she was moved by all the encouragement she received, not only at home, but online.

Since she’s quit, she’s saved more than $7,000 she would have spent on cigarettes – making the $65 UB Quit course cost seem a tremendous bargain in the process.

She finds she has more time now to attend social events because her workload has become more manageable. The cigarettes breaks are a thing of the past.

She feels stronger. Healthier.

“It took a while,” she said.

She recalled how she was a lifeguard in early in her college career, and could easily swim a mile – before she started smoking. Afterward, she struggled to swim 100 yards.

Day can swim a mile again today.

“Deep down, I always did want to quit,” she said.

These days, she is so thankful she has – and encourages those who continue to smoke to keep the faith that they can do so, too.

For help, call UB Quit at 645-3697 or the New York State Smokers’ Quitline, which is based at Roswell, at (866) NY-QUITS (697-8487).

Email: refresh@buffalo.com

Twitter: @BNrefresh

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