WHEN Jacqueline Lapping was given the devastating news she had cancer just days before Christmas she had one thought: how could I have done this to myself?

The 51-year-old smoked up to 20 cigarettes a day, yet it had never occurred to her that she might succumb to the illness.

Mrs Lapping, a care assistant with a 25-year-old son, said: “When you’re busy, all wrapped up in life, you never think that cancer is going to come knocking.

“I just feel so sorry that I’ve done this to myself and to my family and I would hope that any smokers reading this will get help to stop.”

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After receiving her diagnosis at the end of 2019, Ms Lapping was referred to the Quit Your Way Stop Smoking Service at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre where she was given nicotine patches.

She has been in the programme now for six weeks, and her husband Edward and several family members have also sought help from their local pharmacy to quit following Mrs Lapping’s diagnosis.

Mrs Lapping, from Mount Vernon in Glasgow, said: “When I found out I had cancer I knew I had smoked my last cigarette. But I was advised to take up the offer of support to increase my chances of success and it’s been really helpful.

“Hopefully young people now are more aware and will know that smoking is really bad for you and won’t start.

“If you want a long life, to see your kids grow up, meet your grandkids, then you’ve a better chance if you don’t smoke in the first place.”

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Her cancer was discovered after she developed a cough that would not go away.

She said: “The hospital staff have been amazing and have said that my husband’s insistence that I get a GP appointment saved my life.

“If the cancer had been caught any later, the doctors have told me that they wouldn’t have been able to do anything for me, so I’m lucky to have a chance.

“I’m receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy and, while this might get tough, I do feel like I’m lucky to have been given hope.”

Donald Milne, a father-of-three, also got help to quit from the Beatson when his cancer relapsed last August.

Mr Milne, a former offshore worker from Cumbernauld, Lanarkshire, had smoked since he was 20.

The 59-year-old, who has three sons aged seven, four and one with his partner Kim Nairn, said: “The first time I was diagnosed with cancer, it was caught early and I was told that surgery offered me a good chance of a cure.

“My son Cameron was induced two weeks early so I could be there for his birth, just before the operation. It was an emotional time.

“With the help of a tablet that stopped the cravings, I was able to stop smoking before surgery.

“Nine months later, and around a year after I was diagnosed, I went back to hospital for a check-up because I felt unwell and was sleeping all the time. The news wasn’t good.

“Scans showed the cancer was back on the other side of my lungs. It was the worst feeling, like a punch in the guts that knocked me for six.

“I went home and thought ‘I need a fag’ and I started smoking again. It was stupid, crazy. But at the time, I just thought, ‘what’s the point’.”

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He says his latest quit attempt feels very different.

For the first two weeks of giving up smoking, Mr Milne took tablets to help stop his cravings. He also has a weekly call with an advisor from Quit Your Way to offer encouragement and support.

Mr Milne, who also has two grown up daughters, said: “I think the support’s been tremendous.

“My advisor has been fantastic. She never gave up on me. She’s been so encouraging. I know I’ve got somewhere to turn if I need to.”

He is now taking part in a pioneering immunotherapy treatment trial which has shrunk his tumour.