TRAVERSE CITY – Christina Seaberg considers herself a successful graduate of a class of Freedom from Smoking at the Munson Medical Center. He took the class of eight sessions late in 2017 after being diagnosed with lung cancer that summer.
He continues to receive chemotherapy at the Cowell Family Cancer Center. He is an enthusiastic supporter of classes designed to help people quit smoking.
The American Cancer Society reports that about 36.5 million Americans smoke cigarettes and that tobacco use remains the biggest cause of disease prevention and premature death in the world.
Stopping is not easy. Seaberg rarely took a cigarette since he finished the class a year ago. But no one is perfect. She recently went on a tour to the distilleries in the area.
"The hard part is around my group of friends," he said.
Have fun. But some of her friends still smoke. The social mix of sample spirits and the existence around other smokers overcame Seaberg's will.
"Drinking and smoking is where I fail," she said – but what she learned in the classroom a year ago was confined to her regression. "I had a couple and I finished."
Recognizing situations – and avoiding them – that bring a desire to light up is one of the strongest lessons that break classes teach.
"Some say coffee is a great boost for them," said Patti Moore, R.N., nurse navigator at Munson.
Seaberg certainly found it true. She does not drink any more coffee because she gives her a strong push for a cigarette. And it still makes it hard not to light when it comes to snowstorms, because it was dependent on the calming effect of cigarettes.
"Stopping smoking is the most difficult thing one can do, because nicotine stimulates all the nervous receptors that feel good in your brain," said Moore. "It's so difficult at first."
Moore helps patients navigate treatment options and procedures. Some of the most important tools for people who want to quit smoking, they say, are behavioral modification techniques and nicotine replacement products.
Behavioral change actions can be as simple as avoiding coffee or staying away from the concentrations where smoking is likely to happen. Relaxation exercises can help divert your desire to smoke. Some people go for a walk to get their mind off smoking, Moore said.
Seaberg, 60, said she has smoked most of her life. But the habit worsened when he suffered an emotional shock.
"I really started smoking long when my daughter died a few years ago," he said.
Seaberg's daughter was 26 years old.
"Abandonment is a process," said Moore. "It can take a person up to eight or ten times to try to stop."
Each class starts with about 10 people. Eight hours of one-hour sessions are spread over seven weeks. Munson offered two lessons in the autumn of 2017 when the program started, with a total of 22 participants, Moore said. Some people left before finishing the lessons. Seven participants in these two classes remain smokers today.
About half of the people who started another class in January 2018 still do not smoke nearly a year later.
"If you can stop for a year, this is a very good indication that you are going to stay away," Moore said.
Munson has already graduated 61 people from the ranks of Freedom from Smoking. About 32% of these graduates say they do not smoke yet, Moore said.
Thursday is a great American day of smokers.
The Cowell Family Cancer Center will celebrate Great American Smokeout on Friday at 11am. until 1 pm in the Sprout Café coffee on the first floor. The public is invited to follow up on and receive information on low-dose CT, quitting smoking and the next class on smoking cessation. Sandwiches will be served.
Munson's next order for freedom of smoking will begin on 7 January 2019.
Seaberg said the key to her success in the program was support. Communication with the Munson program calls on her to check. Seaberg appreciates the support offered by the program but was also impressed by the fact that the participants take responsibility for their progress.
"They're not pushing you to stop smoking," he said. "They will only give you ideas on how to cut it".
Seaberg continues to adapt to a life without cigarettes.
"It's free, not smoking," said Seaberg. "It's hard to get used to not having to pack two cigarette packs and two lighters before going anywhere."
More information on Day of Freedom from Smoking and resources available to the American Cancer Society are available at Cancer.org / smokeout or 800-227-2345.
More information about cancer services at Munson Healthcare can be found at munsonhealthcare.org/freedom-from-smoking.