A few years ago, I flew to Saudi Arabia to teach healthcare professionals about COPD. The man beside me kept looking at my computer as I worked on my slides. Finally, he asked, “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to Jeddah to teach about a lung disease, called Emphysema or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease),” I replied.
He asked, “Isn’t that also called Smoker’s Lung?” Before I could answer, this man named Jimmy proudly said, “You know, in 2 more days, it will be 11 years since I smoked my last cigarette.”
A Simple Phrase
“Wow, that’s fantastic,” I said. “How did you quit?”
He said, “It’s the strangest thing. My family doctor said to me one day, ‘Jimmy, I like you and I hope to take care of you for a long time, but I’m worried our time is limited.’ ‘What do you mean, Doc? I thought I was doing pretty well.”
Jimmy looked me in the eyes and said, “My doctor said something I never forgot. He said, ‘The best thing you can do for your health is to stop smoking.’ I figured if he cared about me that much, I could give ’em up! So, I threw my pack of cigarettes in the trash and never smoked again!”
As a practicing pulmonologist, I was amazed.
Ways to Help
While I’ve always read that up to 3-5% of people may quit smoking when a healthcare professional tells them that it’s the best thing for their health, here was a real-life example in front of me!
His doctor gave him nicotine patches and gum. Jimmy added that though it was difficult to quit, that particular interaction with his own doctor made him feel like his life really mattered and that motivated him to quit.
Key Points: You never know how your compassionate words and actions affect others. Depending on how slowly you speak, it takes me less than 7 seconds to say the following phrase in a non-judgmental tone, “The best thing you can do for your health is to stop smoking.”
I believe it’s worth the breath and energy of one caring person when running across a ‘Jimmy,’ You can drastically change a life and probably lengthen it, too.