On today, World No Tobacco Day, one Donegal woman reveals how she changed her attitude about smoking to change her life for good.

Serena Gallagher from Pettigo in Donegal has recently received her one year certificate from the HSE Donegal Smoking Cessation Service for quitting smoking and she is delighted to be back in control of her life. Here she shares her journey on how she managed to do it. ‘

When I look back my life revolved around smoking. I got up before the rest of the family so that I could smoke, I would be looking at the clock to see when I could next have one. If I had a cup of coffee I had a cigarette. 

I used to be spraying perfume and rubbing on hand cream so that I didn’t have the horrible smell of smoke.

Cigarettes owned me – after I made the beds I smoked, after I did the hovering I smoked, after the children went to bed I smoked.

My husband Charlie used to get onto me about smoking and the more he went on about it the more I kept smoking. I had to decide that I was giving them up for me.

No force

Once I made the decision I went to see my GP and she recommended that I get support from Fiona Boyle from the HSE Smoking Cessation Service in Killybegs Community Hospital and I agreed to go along and see what it was all about.

When I got there I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t being forced to stop smoking. Using the Smoking Cessation Service was the right way for me to do it as I was able to make an informed decision. Fiona caught me with the information she provided in a non-judgemental way.  

Serena receiving her one year certificate


I wanted to stop and got the information on all the treatments available and the ones most suitable for me. I decided to try the tablet Champix and I found that they were really helpful and made quitting easier for me.

Also getting my Carbon Monoxide level tested each time I went to the clinic helped to motivate me. I didn’t want to use the e-cigarettes as I didn’t feel I was stopping smoking with them.

Breaking the habit

The information on the 5 D’s was great because they helped me break the habit of how I used to smoke

  • Distraction,
  • Delay,
  • Drink Water,
  • Deep Breathing
  • Don’t dwell on it

About 2 weeks after I quit smoking one of my children broke their elbow. In the past I would have automatically had a cigarette but I remember thinking at the time, if I have a cigarette the elbow is still going to be broken, so what’s the point.

I now have more belief in myself and I feel that I can achieve anything; it was hard but worth it.

My advice to others is get as much support and information as you can before you quit. Going to see Fiona regularly helped and she was also at the end of the phone if I needed her between appointments. I thought the patches were rubbish but after speaking to Fiona I realised I wasn’t using them properly and I should have been using another product like the inhaler or the mist as well to keep me comfortable when I was quitting.

Saving money for what matters

I worked it out and I have not spent €3942 in the year since I quit smoking and probably more because I don’t have to go to the shops as often now.

We bought a new car and I have had some dental work done which I didn’t mind paying for and I would probably have left it if I hadn’t stopped smoking.

There is no ‘poor me’ this time which caused me to relapse in the past. My attitude changed this time and I found the distraction, drink water and don’t dwell on it worked particularly well for me. I don’t miss them at all and I am very happy and content and more relaxed than I ever was as a smoker.

I would like to think that I will never smoke again. I can go on holidays and to GAA matches and it’s great that I don’t have to have a cigarette. I am back in control and it feels good.


Where to go for support?

HSE Donegal Smoking Cessation Service (12 face to face clinics throughout the county)

Fiona Boyle 087 2514790 and Catherine Coleman 086 0492465

Ask your GP, Practice Nurse or local pharmacist for advice.

QUIT on 1800 201 203 or www.quit.ie