My Healthy Lungs Story
Believe it or not, I used to smoke. I didn’t start until I was around 18 though, when I started hanging around with friends that were older than me. They were awesome friends, but pretty much every one of them smoked. Back in the 80s, it was rarer to be a non-smoker than a smoker. So, I joined the club. Why, I can’t even tell you. Maybe I wanted to be like my older friends, I don’t know. To be honest, I can’t quite remember why. But it was one of the dumbest decisions I’ve ever made in my life.
For me, smoking was more about something to do with my hands, and it helped calm me. I’m a nervous, anxious person. Yup, always have been, always will be. You know how some people take a drag on a cigarette and put it down to go and do something? Yeah, I couldn’t do that. I’d smoke that sucker fast until it was done and DONE. I was the fastest smoker in the west. So did it really calm me down? Not really. It was a smoky illusion.
My sister was a heavy smoker-really heavy. Over two-pack of cigarettes a day heavy. One summer, her and her hubby came to Alberta for a 2 week vacation with us. We took them to Calgary, to Banff, to Jasper-all my favourite places in my beautiful province.
While in Banff, we hiked Johnston Canyon. It’s not a very hard hike, but there is elevation change of course. Well, near the end of the hike, my sister had an emphysemic attack on the ascent back up. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen. Her face turned so red, and she couldn’t catch her breath at all. She has to sit down, red and gasping for air that just wasn’t getting into her lungs. Her hubby stayed with her as she recovered, while me and Terry finished the hike as fast as we could. I didn’t want to stick around and watch her gasping for breath. I couldn’t do it. It sounds mean that I didn’t stay, but I was in shock and I had never saw anything like it before. She was only 42. I was 25. At the top of the canyon, I looked at my husband and said:
I don’t want that to happen to me when I’m 42. I’m quitting smoking. For good.
And when my sister left to go back to Manitoba, I quit smoking. And never looked back.
Exercise can help you quit
What helped me quit was exercise. I started running. It took me 4 weeks to be able to run a mile without stopping, but I did it! And ever since then, I’ve been a regular exerciser. Exercise helps my nervous personality now, helping me deal with stress way better than smoking ever did. Exercise is so important to keep your lungs and heart healthy, and can help you deal with stress too. The secret is to find something you enjoy doing. I know everyone says that, but it’s true. At the time when I quit smoking, the challenge of running that mile-to get to that goal-was addictive. A healthy addiction. I could see my progress- I was getting better and better at it every day. And that focus really helped me to quit.
I don’t run anymore. Sometimes I get that itch to run, but it’s a little too hard on my aging joints lately. These days, I keep my lungs healthy by doing Zumba, Walking, and my real love which is Hiking. Nothing soothes my nervous soul like hiking does! And, for me, every hike-EVERY HIKE-reminds me of that moment, which will be 25 years ago soon- that I decided to make my lungs healthy again. Every hike? Is a VICTORY.
Even though 90% of lung cancers are caused by smoking, there are other causes. “Pollutants and indoor toxins like radon and asbestos can also cause lung cancer and asbestos in particular can cause a rare cancer called mesothelioma. Here in Canada, while asbestos is not yet banned it’s no longer used in construction, and in fact, gets removed pronto if it’s found in an old building. A lot of people are dangerously unaware that these carcinogens are still around so if you are buying an older house in the US where asbestos is still legal and actually still used, please get it tested for radon and asbestos before you buy. Please.”
Make a pledge right here, right now to keep your lungs healthy! Nothing, NOTHING feels better than making your health a priority in your life! Once you do, it’ll change everything around you. I promise. If you’d like to learn more about asbestos exposure and what mesothelioma is, head over to Mesothelioma.com.
Take a deep, healthy breath, and do it.
How do you keep your lungs heathy?
One thing I’m going to do is get some plants that help purify the air in my home. I have no plants in the house right now, and it’s time to change that.