A child’s innocent question was all it took for Ronnie Link to finally quit smoking: “Do you like it?”
Quitting was not easy, she admits. “I’d been trying to quit my whole life. My grandson was my motivation. That’s what you need to quit: motivation.”
Ronnie also hoped to be a better role model. “I wanted to break the legacy; I didn’t want my grandchildren to pick up the habit. I realized I loved my grandson more than the cigarettes.”
The Vacaville resident relied on that motivation—along with nicotine patches—to get her through the earliest days. And before long, the cravings ebbed. That was several years ago.
Kicking the smoking habit has been extremely liberating, Ronnie says. “Oh gosh, I realize I don’t have to smoke. I don’t have to have a cigarette. I don’t have to count my cigarettes to see if I have enough to last until morning. I’m not wasting any more time out on the patio smoking. I definitely don’t miss the taste in my mouth, or the smell of it on me. And food, oh wow! It all tastes and smells so good. I was walking down the street past a restaurant, and I asked my girlfriends who smoke, ‘Can you smell that?’ and they say, ‘What? I can’t smell a thing!'”
Ronnie knew that smoking wasn’t good for her health, but admits she didn’t really think about the risks. “I didn’t think anything bad would happen to me. But then it did.”
Four years ago, she signed up to have a low-cost lung scan offered by NorthBay Cancer Center. She was eligible for the scan because her 35-year habit placed her in a high-risk group. The scan found a suspicious spot that turned out to be cancer at its earliest stage.
Following surgery to remove part of her lung, she is now cancer-free.
What’s Ronnie’s advice for those who want to quit? “Find your motivation. Just do it. Stay strong. You will not be craving anymore; it will stop. And, you’ll get back your sense of taste and smell!”
Link to Life Foundation
Ronnie Link vowed to start a foundation to provide screening for high-risk lung cancer candidates for whom the cost of a lung scan might be a barrier. The foundation was created in 2013, and she calls it Link to Life Lung Cancer Foundation. The Foundation’s first public screening was held on Dec. 5, 2015, through a collaboration between NorthBay Cancer Center and Solano Diagnostics Imaging (SDI). Twelve candidates received the painless 10-second CT scan that day, which can detect lung cancers at a very early stage and result in a surprisingly high rate of survival.
SDI is an American College of Radiology-designated lung screening center, and has not only the equipment needed to perform the scan, but the expertise to read the scans and provide follow-up if necessary. The Link to Life Foundation covered the cost for patients with no insurance or with an unaffordable insurance co-payment. For more information about Link to Life Lung Cancer Foundation, contact Link at (707) 888-0488.