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Dear Mr Jibawi, I thought I'd drop you this note about my smoking and to say thank you for all your hard work in keeping me alive!

I started smoking when I was 14 years old. In those days a schoolgirl (or boy!) could buy one cigarette, two matches and a bag of crisps for two old pence from the local corner shop. Some 54 years and myriad operations later (I've had three operations for cancer and two to try to save my leg in the last 13 months alone) I've at last stopped smoking.

Every time over the years, whenever I've needed an operation or had a chest infection, I've always been told "You have to stop smoking. It's going to kill you". And, of course, I always thought "You have to tell me that, maybe it's required by law or something!" And anyway, I told myself, I didn't smoke much, and I was still young and had plenty of time. And of course, death is something that happens to other people, by a fatal accident or when you get really, really old.

And then I started with the horrendous claudication pain in my left leg, which led me to you. I knew immediately what it was, having had the same problem ten years previously in my right leg. Having attended your outpatients clinic on 2nd June last year, Dr Anneleise Lawn told me that I simply had to stop smoking. I saw you later that month and in your subsequent letter to my GP (copied to me) you were much more outspoken, telling him that if I didn't have an operation before Christmas there was a 42% risk that my leg would need to be amputated within six months with the very real associated risk of death. As you can imagine, that really made me sit up and take notice. Whilst I've been told verbally many many times, there's something about having it in black and white in front of you that you can't escape from.

So, in June last year I stopped smoking tobacco. On the advice of Dr Lawn I bought some e-cigarette batteries and cartridges and can truly say I haven't missed cigarettes at all. I started on 1.8% nicotine strength cartridges (the equivalent of the low tar cigarettes I was previously smoking) and am now on the 0% nicotine cartridges and will soon stop those as well.

So ... thank you for your directness, and for your skill and for putting such a good team together. And five weeks after the second operation and an arterial bypass (I seem to recall a certain surgeon telling me I had "terrible arteries, terrible!") I'm now walking between three-quarters and one mile every day.

Pat Smith


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