Ian’s story – Make Smoking History

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Ian’s story

Finding out I was terminally ill was heart-breaking, especially for my wife and five children who have been amazing throughout all of this.

Dad of five, Ian Gresty, 59, from Gorton, Manchester, quit smoking after being diagnosed with three different types of cancer – lung, throat and brain – and is currently under the care of The Christie in Withington, Manchester. Ian smoked for over 40 years and was a heavy smoker, but he has stopped with the support of the stop smoking service at The Christie.

Even though I was diagnosed with terminal cancer I found it really difficult to quit smoking. I knew smoking was a contributing factor, but the stress of the diagnosis made it hard at first.

“I started smoking when I was 15 as everyone smoked back then, and I never thought about the impact that it would have on my health. I quickly became addicted as I smoked constantly. Looking back, I would class myself as a heavy smoker. I used to smoke 40 to 50 cigarettes a day – sometimes it was purely down to boredom.

“My wife smoked too, so it was part of our everyday lives. I play snooker and smoked while socialising with my friends. It wasn’t until one day at work in early 2017 when I spat up some blood, that I began to think about my health. Initially, my GP thought I had an infection and gave me some antibiotics, which seemed to work. But it happened again, so I had some blood tests done.

“My GP got in touch to say there was something wrong with my blood test results and I needed further tests, so I was referred to the Manchester Royal where I underwent a series of tests and scans. They found a cloud on one of my lungs, so I had a CT scan and they then informed me that they thought the cancer had spread to my throat, so I had an urgent biopsy which unfortunately confirmed my diagnosis. It was a huge shock, as I’d had no other symptoms apart from spitting up blood.”

Ian, who has been married for 37 years, was referred to The Christie in September 2017 for specialist treatment as he was initially given three months to live.

“The team at The Christie were brilliant, they have supported me and my family over the past few years. I don’t know how we would have coped without them. I also met one of my best friends, Neville, on Ward 12 at The Christie and we see each other every day as we live near to each other.

“Due to my initial diagnosis, I was offered a place on a clinical trial for a new treatment but after having further tests my consultant gave me the devastating news that my cancer had spread further – into my brain. Finding out I was terminally ill was heart-breaking, especially for my wife and five children who have been amazing throughout all of this. I was allowed to go ahead with the trial, but was advised to stop in early 2020. Then the pandemic hit, but I still have regular scans, blood tests and check-ups.

“Even though I was diagnosed with terminal cancer I found it really difficult to quit smoking. I knew smoking was a contributing factor, but the stress of the diagnosis made it hard at first. I got support from Charlotte in the stop smoking service at The Christie, which really helped. I wasn’t able to smoke when I received my treatment, so that made it easier to stop as I had already cut down. I also used an e-cigarette and went out with my friends who didn’t smoke, as being surrounded my people who were non-smokers helped me take my mind off it. I’ve now been smokefree for nine months, and I’m really proud of myself.”