Joan and Missy from New Ulm

Five Year Success Story: From Smoker to Non-Smokers

Did you know that after just one year of being smoke-free, your risk of coronary heart disease decreases to half that of a smoker, and after five to 15 years the risk of stroke is equal to someone who has never smoked? Well, New Ulm residents Joan and Missy do: they are celebrating five years of being smoke free!


It all started when they took a class on smoking cessation offered through J&R Schugel, their worksite at the time. Since then they have both endured various stressful changes in life: job changes, loss of a parent, family situations and more, and still remained smoke free. How did they do it?

Joan reports that her main reason for quitting was a new grandchild. She remembers someone stating she wouldn’t want to be lugging an oxygen tank to his graduation, and that hit home. Joan had been a smoker for about 30 years and really tried to quit several times. This time she had many tools to help her. In addition to the class, she used a medication to help her quit. Still, however, it was no easy task. Her husband is extremely supportive, but is a smoker himself. She had smoked in every room of her home except the bedroom, so for those first few weeks she would come home, get her dinner, go into her bedroom and hunker down. Joan reports that she did gain some weight at first, but knew she was still getting healthier. Now she has started walking for exercise most evenings, and has lost more than the weight she had gained. She doesn’t get winded like she did when she was a smoker, and generally feels better. When she goes out with friends, some go outside to smoke. But she knows that she doesn’t want to go through the pain of quitting again, so she stays in. She knows she is better off, and she wouldn’t want to let her quitting buddy down.

Missy had smoked for over 23 years and had also tried to quit before. She would like to say that she quit for her health, but thinks if that was the case, why wouldn’t she have quit after watching family members suffer from smoking-related disease? Now she knows that it was just the right time. She too had a lot of support, in addition to the class, Nicorette lozenges and Joan, she had someone quitting with her at home. Missy found that the most unexpected part of quitting for her was actually grieving the loss of cigarettes. When she couldn’t quit crying one day, she talked to a friend who helped her realize that it was due to the grief of losing a so-called friend in cigarettes. Missy reports she has gone through many stressful times since then, including the loss of her mother, but is proud to have remained smoke-free. Missy is feeling much healthier and loves to go to Crossfit three times per week. Five years ago she would have never imagined doing that.

Both Joan and Missy say that the support of friends, family and the class helped them to be successful this time. They advise hopeful quitters to take it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. Both now consider themselves non-smokers, not former smokers. Joan says, “If I can quit, anyone can quit as long, as they are ready to quit and have a support system.”

If you or someone you know is interested in quitting smoking and would like some additional support there are classes offered through New Ulm Medical Center click on the “Quit to Live Well” flyer. Also support is offered by contacting Quit Plan Services at or 1-888-354-PLAN (7526)