Plan your New Year's resolution to quit smoking now! The next Courage to Quit class begins January 10. Call 847.618.4YOU to register.
Maybe you've smoked for as long as you can remember. Maybe you've even thought, why bother quitting?
Whether you have tried to quit smoking—or you're summoning the courage for the first time—Northwest Community Hospital (NCH) can help.
On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers. The good news is, it's never too late to quit. A recent study showed that ex-smokers under age 85 who quit more than a year before a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer survived longer than those similarly diagnosed who still smoked.
According to the American Cancer Society, within months of quitting your lungs start to regain normal function. And within two to five years, stroke risk can fall to that of a nonsmoker.
Feeling a nudge? Maybe it's time to enroll in Courage to Quit, a seven-week, step-by-step plan offered at NCH. Classes are facilitated by Juli Aistars, RN, APN, from Cancer Services and Mary McNally, RN, from Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation. They are both Tobacco Treatment Specialist (TTS) Certified and passionate about assisting smokers who wish to quit smoking. "The curriculum is evidence-based. Research shows you will be able to quit more successfully if medication is used in conjunction with counseling," Juli says. "The accountability and encouragement of a class setting also helps."
Participants have additional options: They can have one-on-one counseling with Juli or Mary and/or attend a weekly no-cost, no-registration support group. "Here, you realize you're not alone," Juli says. The support group is every Tuesday from 12:15 to 1:15 pm at NCH's Wellness Center, Room 2. Call Health Connections at 847.618.4968 for more information.
Aistars is also the CT Lung Screening Facilitator at NCH. Current or former smokers ages 50 to 74 who have smoked a pack a day for 30 years (or two packs a day for 15 years) are candidates for the low-dose CT scan, which can detect lung tumors at an earlier stage than chest X-ray.
The screening opens yet another door to talk with current smokers about quitting. "The CT scan is an eye-opener—either everything is OK and they've 'dodged a bullet,' or they have lung disease and it's a wake-up call," Juli says. NCH is one of the first Chicago-area hospitals to offer the low-dose CT lung screenings.
Quitting isn't easy. About half of those who try don't make it past the first week. Yet 3 million Americans quit smoking successfully every year. So, if at first you don't succeed ... be sure to keep trying. The benefits of not smoking will make your efforts worthwhile. The American Cancer Society estimates that stopping smoking now will add seven to 15 years to the average smoker's life.