Suzy came from a family of smokers. “My mother, father, grandparents — the whole family did it,” she says. It wasn’t unusual, then, when Suzy began sneaking cigarettes at age 15.
Suzy grew up and married; she and her husband were exemplary entrepreneurs. Their successful ventures included a seafood market in Florida and a marine fuel business. Both also smoked. They had two children, and when Suzy learned she was pregnant with her second son, Daniel, she gave up cigarettes. “I was determined to quit, and I did — cold turkey,” says Suzy.
Although she had quit smoking during her pregnancy, Suzy resumed smoking shortly after Daniel’s birth. “I was running out of breath frequently and thought, I can’t be smoking around a baby,’” she says. She quit again. The talented cook substituted cooking for smoking and she kept busy with her family and friends, as well as reading and traveling. But she still smoked on and off for several years, according to her son Daniel.
In 2007, at age 57, Suzy suffered a stroke, which her doctors linked to her many years of smoking. It was then that she quit smoking for good. The stroke caused Suzy to have partial paralysis and problems with her speech and eyes. Worse yet, it cost Suzy her independence. “I’m dependent on other people. I need someone to help wash and dress me, to help me to the bathroom,” she says.
Today, at 62, Suzy’s spirit remains upbeat. She’s an avid reader, currently making her way through many best sellers, and still loves to cook and travel. She believes the Tips From Former Smokers campaign can make a difference. On the subject of smoking, she stresses, “If you haven’t started, don’t; and if you have started, you can quit. It’s never too late.”
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- CDC/Office on Smoking and Health
4770 Buford Highway
Atlanta, Georgia 30341-3717