Sally Griffiths, from Lower Heswall, shared her family’s devastating experience and called for more support to help people quit smoking.
Sally’s mother, Sybil Eaton, had been smoking 20 cigarettes a day for most of her life. In 2010, at the age of 71, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and died just six weeks later. Sally, who works as an HR officer, vividly remembers the pain of watching her mother deteriorate.
She said: “I held mum’s hand as she slipped away. The whole thing knocked our family for six, especially my dad, they’d been married for 47 years when mum died.”
Reflecting on the void left by her mother’s absence, Sally expressed her desire to prevent others from going through the same pain. She said: “Now there is a gaping hole where mum used to be. I never want anyone else to go through what my dad, my sister and I went through watching her deteriorate.”
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Sybil, who lived in Shropshire with her husband Ron, had initially complained of pain in her arm. After a series of tests, doctors discovered a secondary brain tumour and confirmed the primary cancer was in her lungs. Despite the best efforts of medical professionals, Sybil never returned home from the hospital and died six weeks later.
Sally, deeply affected by her mother’s smoking-related death, has been participating in the Wirral Race for Life every summer for the past 13 years in memory of her mum.
She said: “My mum had smoked most of her life since being 14, and it killed her eventually. We looked at the x-rays and there were dark masses everywhere.
“Because the cancer was so far advanced, there was nothing the doctors could do. We just had to wait for the inevitable to happen. I am very thankful that I was with her when she died so that she didn’t die alone, and I was able to tell her how much I loved her and that I’d look after our family now.”
She is now urging people across Merseyside to support Cancer Research UK’s Smokefree UK campaign by signing a petition calling for more funding and support to help people quit smoking.
Highlighting the urgency of the situation, Sally said lives are being lost due to the current lack of resources and support for smokers. She explained: “People are paying with their lives for the current lack of funding and support to quit smoking and it’s got to stop. That’s why I’m backing this vitally important campaign and hope I can inspire others to do the same. We must do what we can to protect the next generation from a future of ill-health and disease by stubbing out smoking for good.”
Cancer Research UK is urging the Prime Minister to establish a ‘Smokefree Fund’ to finance essential interventions such as stop smoking services and public health campaigns. The organisation believes the tobacco industry should be held responsible for the damage it causes and should bear the financial burden, rather than taxpayers.
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Jemma Humphreys, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, said: “The figures are shocking, and we can’t help watching the clock. For every day the Government fails to act hundreds of lives will be needlessly lost across the country.
“Smoke-filled pubs, colourful cigarette packets and cigarette vending machines are all now things of the past. But from Sally’s experience, it’s clear the distressing toll of tobacco is not – so we’re grateful to her for rallying people in Wirral and across Merseyside to help make smoking history.
“Many of us know friends and family whose lives are at risk, or have lost loved ones to smoking, so we hope that as many supporters as possible will sign our vital petition to the Prime Minister. In a world without cancers caused by smoking, we can make more moments that matter and help people live longer, healthier lives, free from the fear of this devastating disease.”
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