A family hit twice by cancer have told of how their ordeal inspired them to quit smoking together.
Henry Pridding went to the doctor’s with what he thought was a mouth ulcer – only to discover he had tongue cancer. The diagnosis followed his wife Tina’s own struggle with lung cancer.
Since then they have both, along with their daughter, given up smoking – and now they are telling their story to motivate others to stop smoking too and join the thousands of people who quit in Greater Manchester last year.
The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of smokers in Greater Manchester fell by more than 27,000 in 2018.
Henry, 66, from Greater Manchester, said: “Smoking has devastated our family, that’s why we all stopped smoking. We want to share our story in the hope that it will help other people stop – like we wish we had done before cancer struck.
“If you make one New Year’s resolution, make it to quit smoking. It might not be easy, but it’s worth it. We did it, you can too.”
The family have shared their story as part of the Greater Manchester ex-smoker campaign, which is drawing on the real-life experiences of former smokers to show that you can stop.
Henry said: “I started smoking when I was 12, then one day I was having trouble eating because there was something on my tongue. I just thought it was a mouth ulcer. Of all the places to find cancer, they found it on my tongue.
“Most people say this won’t happen to me. I said that, but look at me. I’m proof of what can happen.
“I went in for the operation in 2016. I had a roll-up just before, threw it in the bin and thought, ‘well, that’s that’ and I’ve never smoked since.”
Tina, 57, found it harder to quit but after being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012 and, after several attempts, has beaten the habit.
Tina said: “I didn’t stop smoking like Henry, it took me loads of goes. I had the patches, the drops, the chewing gum. I’d give anything not to have started.”
Tina’s love for her family meant she knew she had to leave the cigarettes behind.
She added: “I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my children and husband. I mean, we’ve been together 40 years.”
Henry and Tina have five children and 12 grandchildren and one more on the way. After seeing first-hand the damage smoking caused, their children followed their lead and also stopped smoking.
Talking about Henry and Tina’s ordeal, their daughter Vikki, 35, said: “My parents’ cancer is the biggest wake-up call anyone could need. It genuinely has made me quit smoking.
“I’m the mother of two children, aged 14 and 11. I don’t want them to go through what I’ve been through with mum and dad.”
Henry, Tina and Vikki are featured in TV and radio ads that have been created for the ex-smoker campaign.