“If I had one message to smokers it’d be don’t wait until it’s too late.”
At the age of 45, Maggie Bratton gave up smoking the night before she underwent surgery to remove the roof of her mouth.
She said: “I never really thought much about smoking and its link to mouth cancer, it just wasn’t something I was aware of.
“It all started when I got an abscess on my gums. I had to go for a biopsy but I still didn’t think anything of it. I had a couple of teeth taken out and I honestly thought that was it. They did a few more tests and I suddenly went from losing two teeth to losing half of my mouth.
Maggie took a long time to come to terms with how dramatically her life has changed as a result of her smoking.
She said: “Before cancer, I was an adamant smoker – I always had been. I never bothered trying to quit because I just thought I would make a fool of myself and fail but it changes when you get that scare.
“I remember being at the hospital the night before the surgery and I was still smoking at that stage. I went outside for a cigarette and I thought, what am I doing?
“I went back in and put my clothes on and told the nurse I was going to go home! She asked why and I said it was because I can’t quit. Thankfully, she told me to sleep on it and to think of my kids and I haven’t smoked since. I can honestly say I have never craved a cigarette since.
“If I had one message to smokers it’d be don’t wait until it’s too late”.
Since first sharing her story, Maggie’s journey to quit smoking has reached so many people across the globe.
She said: “The reaction to the campaign has been absolutely wonderful. I’ve had responses from all over the world and so many people have packed in smoking since they saw the video. It has had quite an impact.”
Brave Maggie sadly died in April 2020. Her story and her strength continue to inspire smokers to quit and we’re incredibly grateful to Maggie’s family for allowing us to share her story.