When you start smoking, you don’t realise how strong that addiction is. I am just so grateful now for every single day with my family.
After smoking for nearly four decades, Lisa Fildes, 49, from Hindley, Wigan, quit for good in June 2020. A major health scare turned the mum of four’s world upside down when she nearly died of a heart attack in 2018. Lisa, who works as a supermarket customer assistant, stayed smokefree until she relapsed in December 2019 – but thanks to support from her local stop smoking service, Lisa is now celebrating six months free from cigarettes. This is her story.
It absolutely breaks my heart knowing that smoking probably caused the heart attack. But when you start smoking, you don’t realise how strong that addiction is. I am just so grateful now for every single day with my family.
“In June 2018, I suffered a heart attack, stroke, multi-organ failure and developed sepsis. I was in a coma for four and a half weeks.
“When I started smoking aged 10, I had no idea of the consequences. It was mainly peer pressure at the time, but it didn’t take long for me to get hooked.
“I smoked 20, up to 30, a day – first thing in the morning, last thing at night, to cope with stress. I have asthma and live with type 1 diabetes, which has been unstable for the last 25 years.
“I had my heart attack while at home with my children in the summer of 2018. My eldest son called my husband Craig who dashed home and performed CPR until the ambulance arrived. I was blue lighted to hospital and spent weeks in a coma. There were times when the doctors said I wasn’t going to make it.
“It was a terrifying time for the whole family and my husband stayed by my side the whole time. It makes me really sad to know that Craig and my boys went through all of that.
“After being so ill, I was determined to stop smoking and stayed quit until December 2019 when I had a few puffs of a cigarette and relapsed. My children and family hated that I’d started smoking again, but it is such a powerful addiction.
“During the start of the pandemic, I had to shield due to my health condition and was smoking more at home. It was a high stress environment, but I had developed a nasty chest infection I couldn’t shift so I knew I had to do something.
“I contacted my stop smoking service and my advisor helped me to make a plan, and we discussed different ways to quit. My advisor was fab, she would ring me every week to make sure I was okay and was there any time I needed advice or just to let off some steam. I tried lots of different things, such as patches and gum, but due to my existing health condition they affected my blood sugar levels. I was determined to give up so in the end I found vaping worked best for me.
“Looking at my kids and remembering just how poorly I was, keeps me motivated. I don’t want to end up back in hospital. I want to be around for my boys and my husband. Although I still struggle with my breathing, I am feeling brilliant; I can taste and smell again and I’m back at work.
“It absolutely breaks my heart knowing that smoking probably caused the heart attack. But when you start smoking, you don’t realise how strong that addiction is. I am just so grateful now for every single day with my family.
“My message to anyone who smokes is please don’t wait – give quitting a go now. If I can do it, then anyone can do it. There are so many options to help you quit – and seek support. Don’t waste all that time getting ill, wasting your money, taking a possible life away from your children or your husband or your family. It’s just not worth it.”