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NewsTribune photo/Genna Ord WAJK 99.3 radio personality Jon “Shap” Shapiro poses for a photo with his wife Kristin and their 8-week-old son, Felix. Shap has been smoke-free for eight years and said he couldn’t imagine having the expense of the habit now, while raising a family.
NewsTribune photo/Genna Ord Illinois Valley Community Hospital director of respiratory care services Linda Pinn talks about the tips she shares with smokers during the “Freedom From Smoking” class. Pinn said the seven-week program emphasizes being prepared to quit.
Eight-week-old Felix doesn’t have to worry about whether he will have clean air to breathe — not at home anyway. His father had his last cigarette long before he was born. WAJK 99.3 radio personality Jon “Shap” Shapiro of Spring Valley has been smoke-free for 8 years. He didn’t quit on his first try, though. After an attempt to go cold-turkey and another assisted by medication, Shap said he decided to give it one more try. This time, he opted for a nicotine replacement system in the form of a patch, and put it on his Christmas list. “I knew if I had to buy it myself for the first one, I wouldn’t,” he said. “Plus someone else investing in it made me feel like I had to do it and not let them down.” Shap said it is important to be mentally prepared. The first thing he did in preparation was to stop smoking in his car — the place he smoked the most. He cleaned it out, had it detailed and got it smelling fresh before making it a “smoke-free zone.” “I also armed myself with a big bag of Dum-Dums,” he said. According to Linda Pinn, director of respiratory care services at Illinois Valley Community Hospital, planning ahead can mean the difference between successfully quitting or falling back into old habits. “So many quit dates come and go because you’re not prepared,” she said. The hospital offers an seven-week American Cancer Association program called “Freedom from Smoking,” which emphasizes mental preparation. Smokers need to plan what they will do instead of smoking, Pinn said, and how they will respond when triggers occur. During the first month on the patch, Shap had lost his job. It wasn’t easy, but this time he didn’t go back. “There were a couple days that were really rough for me,” he said. “I’ve conquered other demons, and quitting smoking was one of the hardest things to quit.” According to Joy Jaraczewski of the Bureau County Health Department, it all boils down to being ready. She helps people quit all the time with the health department’s smoking cessation program. Participants check in weekly with the Quit Line and every two weeks with Jaraczewski. “It all comes from them,” she said. “I don’t have a magic wand.” Shap said it helps to have the encouragement of family and friends. “Most importantly, you have to want to do it for yourself,” he said. That motivation wasn’t quite enough for Molly Rynkewicz of Ladd. After about three years of smoking sporadically, she had slowed down but was not able to completely quit until she learned she was pregnant. After that, she was done. “It wasn’t just me anymore,” she said, pointing at her 5-month-old son, Chase. “I had him inside me.” Any withdrawal symptoms she may have had, she blamed on the pregnancy. She actually noticed she felt better being smoke-free. She was not as winded — at least until later in her pregnancy. Though she had quit right away, Rynkewicz’s doctor emphasized that any amount of time away from cigarettes was good for the baby. According to Pinn, this is true for the mother, too. “There’s always improvement in your lung function when you quit smoking,” she said. The health risks of continuing to smoke go beyond lung cancer and emphysema, though. Pinn said smoking also increases the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.
Staying smoke-free Rynkewicz said she already has gone a year smoke-free — why stop now? “It was kind of a waste to not smoke while he was in the womb if I’m just going to expose him to second-hand smoke,” she said. “That’s not something I want to do to him, because he can’t get up and walk away.” Jaraczewski said stress often tempts people to reach for another cigarette after they have quit. “Everybody has stress. If you breathe, you have stress,” she said. “It’s just a matter of finding different ways to deal with the stress instead of lighting up a cigarette. Pinn said she teaches smokers the “Four D’s” to help them stay smoke-free: * Drink lots of water to flush the toxins from your body. * Delay the urge. * Do something else. * Deep breathing for stress relief. “The cravings get farther apart,” Pinn said, who herself was a smoker for 27 years. She recommends staying away from smokers for the first three months. “After that first year, you pretty much have total control over your nicotine addiction,” she said. But Pinn doesn’t consider that addiction to ever go away. “You take one puff off a cigarette and you can be right back,” she said. Pinn advises smokers who relapse not to give up on themselves. “It’s OK to slip,” she said. “Just get back on track again.” Amy Flanery can be reached at (815) 220-6975 or email@example.com.
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