Annamaree Menzies, 47, Marcus Beach, Qld
Picking up the phone, I lit a cigarette. I was always calling my dad, Denzil, for chats, and enjoying a smoke was part of that tradition. I inhaled, waiting for Dad to pick up. I was worried about him. He'd been to the doctor about a stomach problem and now the test results were in. When Dad answered, I could tell it wasn't good news. 'I've got cancer,' he admitted. He'd been given six months to live.
Devastation tore through me. How could I face losing Dad? After hanging up, I turned to the one thing I knew would comfort me - another cigarette. As I gulped down the smoke, I suddenly felt sick. Dad had just been told he had cancer, yet I was clinging to a habit that could lead me to the same fate.Dad had been a smoker for over 20 years. He'd given up when I was little, but maybe, if he'd never smoked, he might still be healthy. It was at that moment I knew I had to quit.
Taking a deep breath, I stubbed out my cigarette for the last time. Giving up would be tough. I'd started smoking at 15 and now I was smoking over 30 a day. I'd tried to quit before, but something always got in the way. Dad's illness was a wake-up call. I couldn't let my daughters, Georgie, 23, Chelsea, 20, and Brier, 15, feel the grief I felt.
I had to retrain myself in every single aspect of my life. I couldn't light up when I made a phone call or when I was feeling stressed. Whenever I felt the urge, I just thought about Dad. Within weeks, I started feeling the benefits. My skin was clearer and I began to look younger.Though the smell of nicotine was sometimes intoxicating, my grief about Dad kept me going.Sadly, Dad passed away months later. My heart broke as I said goodbye, but I was grateful too. Dad inspired me to live a better life.
Now, every day without a cigarette is one more to spend with my family. I have Dad to thank for that.
Help is at hand if you want to stop smoking too. For tips and support visit www.thatslife.com.au/forums, call the Quitline for advice on 13 78 48, or visit www.icanquit.com.au. The site has a savings calculator so you can track how much you've saved per week, month and year by giving up smoking.