Quitting tobacco for good

Joni Marcks

CMH caregiver celebrates nearly six years smoke free

By Sarah Bello

Everyone else was doing it, so she did, too. Joni Marcks became a smoker at 13 years old. 

Fast-forward about 44 years, and Marcks wanted to quit. Consistently a pack-a-day smoker, she tried ending the habit may times over the years. Nothing worked, she says. When she had a failed shoulder surgery, and her doctor told her that the nicotine could have impeded healing, she was even more motivated.

“Right before my second surgery, I found out that our health plan was covering Chantix,” she says. “I had tried Chantix several years prior, but I couldn’t stay on it because of the expense, and I only stayed quit for a couple of weeks.

“I was delighted, because I knew that Chantix would be my best chance at success.”

Marcks started Chantix in the middle of February 2014, setting March 1 as her target quit date a few weeks before her second surgery. She made a promise to herself that she’d do fine and threw away all her smoking-related accessories and cigarettes. By her second week on Chantix, she only lit up a couple of times a day. Five weeks later, she felt confident she had succeeded. 

Although there were challenges along the way, including surgery recovery, coming back to work in time for the Cerner go-live, and losing her mom the following year, Marcks kept up the fight. She took up vaping with a nicotine-free liquid for a while, but gave that up shortly after, as well. 

“Now the only thing I inhale is the air I breathe,” she says, “and I breathe much better nowadays!”

Marcks has been a CMH Patient Financial Services caregiver for almost nine years now. For nearly six of those years, she’s been smoke free. With some of the money she saves from not smoking, she goes out for a biweekly lunch with her sister. Although there were obstacles in her journey to quit, Marcks says being smoke free feels amazing.

“Don’t give up,” she says, if you’re trying to quit. “If one method doesn’t work for you, keep trying. It’ll be worth it!”

If you’re interested in quitting tobacco, contact CMH’s Tobacco Cessation Coordinator Alissa Dorman at adorman@columbiamemorial.org. She can assist you with tips and resources to give up tobacco for good. Tobacco cessation appointments are available Monday-Friday and are billable to most insurance.

CMH caregivers also have the Commit to Quit program available to them, which offers a $25/month reward for committing to and following a quit plan with Alissa.