This year, Tina Moyer and her son Rob were able to celebrate one year of being smoke-free, an accomplishment they wouldn’t have been able to achieve without each other.
“He was my rock. I’m as proud of him as much as he’s proud of me. Every month [we were smoke-free], I’d print out a certificate for him. When we got to the one year mark, he told me to print one out for myself, too,” Tina says. “One our one-year anniversary, I marked both of our names on the certificate and we took ourselves out to dinner.”
A smoker of 30+ years, Tina works in a sewing factory. As she works she listens to headphones and sings, but she began noticing she was losing her breath while doing this.
“Finally I got on the internet and after research, I made a date to quit. October 8, 2009. And that was it. We quit cold turkey,” Tina says.
“It was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. I had tried to quit several times before, and lasted a few weeks or so, but always seemed to fall back in, one by one, here and there,” Rob says. “I think trying to help my mom along like this actually may have made it a little bit easier for me. I was always trying to give her tips and motivation to keep going, and in turn, had to listen to myself!”
Tina, 45, says in January of 2010 she was still feeling the effects of not being able to breathe.
“Our family doctor finally gave me a breathing test, which showed mild emphysema. I didn’t know what to do, so they started me with a nebulizer and an albuterol inhaler. A month later, I still didn’t feel right. I kept insisting something was wrong,” she says.
After changing doctors, Tina’s new physician put her in pulmonary rehab, which helped her tremendously.
“It taught me how to purse breathe, how to deal with living with emphysema, etc.
Tina, who smoked up to two packs a day, says that son Rob, 26, might have had an easier time of quitting since he didn’t smoke as long.
“He also works at a YMCA, and did AmeriCorp for two years, so he gets to work out and be around kids, so for him I think it was a little bit easier,” Tina says. “For me, when I left pulmonary rehab it was hard to do that kind of stuff on my own. I had back and knee problems – it was an ongoing battle.”
Tina says she had bad withdraw symptoms, becoming anxious some days and turning to food. To this day she still works hard to keep up with her exercise routine and stay active. She still works full-time, which she says can be a struggle.
Tina’s co-worker Wendy Boonie has worked with her for the past six years.
“Tina is a remarkable woman. She has been through a lot of battles but through it all she has been able to overcome each obstacle. When she told me she was going to quit smoking I was so proud of her…when she found out that she was diagnosed with COPD, I was shocked. I knew that she was starting to have shortness of breath and breathing problems, but I didn’t think it was that bad,” Wendy says. “I admire her for her strength and perseverance through everything she is going through.”
Rob says the toughest part for him was his mother’s diagnosis of COPD and subsequent reaction.
“For a short amount of time, I’m sure she had to feel like she did this [quit smoking] for nothing, or even worse, she did it and got gypped. But as a family, my Dad [Bill] and I talked her through, as we did when we were in the process of quitting,” Rob says. “If she didn’t quit when she did, imagine how much worse it would’ve been when she found out down the road, after smoking for more years. Between our family and her friends and the internet, my mom has a huge support system and although every day is not easy, she manages.
“She manages better than anyone else could or even should, and I’m so proud of her. I love my parents, and we are a family that is living with COPD,” Rob says. “I do look back every now and then. Of course, there’s certain triggers that still make me think about it. But after all of this time, and thinking about my mom and what we went through and what she still has to deal with, I could never become a smoker again.”