ALTON – OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center will be offering the American Lung Association’s Freedom from Smoking program starting at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26, in the Auditorium of OSF Saint Clare’s Medical Office Building, 815 E. Fifth St.
Shana Marshall, a two-pack a day smoker, attended last year’s smoking cessation program after attempting to quit numerous times since starting at age 15.
“I started smoking out of rebellion. As a child, my life was pretty controlled. So, I started hanging out with the wrong people,” Shana said. “I didn’t even know you were supposed to inhale for several weeks until someone showed me.”
The peer pressure to smoke with her friends got the best of her and Shana soon went from a beginner to a two-pack a day smoker.
“I stopped each time I was pregnant but would continue after delivery. After moving away, I even went through a 10-year stint of smoking filter-less cigarettes.
“I tried to quit so many times. There were medications, gums, patches, and vapor smokes, nothing seemed to work. I even tried cold-turkey. The thing was – I really loved smoking.”
After some spiritual reflection, Shana decided that cigarettes should not rule her life.
“I was putting smoking ahead of everything in my life. When I saw the Freedom from Smoking flier at (OSF) Saint Clare’s Hospital, I knew I was going. I was reluctant to talk about it because I didn’t want it to be just another quitting attempt,” said Shana.
Shana, full of optimism and fortified with her faith, started the eight-week smoking cessation program taught by certified instructor Tina Bennett.
“I love Tina. She is so supportive and doesn’t pass judgment on you,” Shana said. “There were 20 of us in the class and it was nice to support and pray for each other.”
The program is specifically designed to show people solutions to ending their smoking habit, as well as providing the support and encouragement needed to clear the hurdles.
“The support I received was very important. I was the person trying to get the last drag before going in the door,” Shana said. “Then I would spray-on perfume to try and mask the smell.
“In the class, they gave us books and taught us strategies on how to deal with urges and mood swings. I chewed on coffee stirrers for awhile – sometimes still do. And when I had to drive somewhere, I would put my cigarettes in the trunk. Those little strategies make you think about how and why you’re reaching for that cigarette.”
Shana’s favorite strategy was the reward system. She started to use the money that was saved from not purchasing cigarettes to buy herself a reward. If she made it the whole week, she would reward herself on Monday.
The strategies, as well as the support she received from the group, her family and her church, Sanford Avenue Baptist Church, made all the difference. As of 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 26, Shana has been smoke-free. An accomplishment not lost on her husband, Mark.
“She is a lot nicer to kiss,” Mark said jokingly.
“We kiss a lot and he would catch me right after I smoked. Now, he wouldn’t say anything because he is a great guy; but I knew. I’m not a dummy,” Shana said. “It was the third goal on my list for quitting, ‘kiss my husband.’”
To register or for more information about the program, call the OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Resource Center at (618) 465-2264.