The Fan Letter

February 23rd, 2001, 9:07 pm#1

Joel's Reinforcement Library


The Fan Letter

Dear Julio:

I just felt I had to write you this letter to illustrate that I am truly your biggest fan. I know you hear it from others, but when you hear my story, I am sure you will agree that few will risk as much as I just have to see you perform.

You see, I have been having difficulty breathing, so bad in fact that I made an appointment with my doctor. Generally, I avoid talking to my doctor about any breathing difficulty. You see, I have smoked a pack and a half per day for over 40 years, and I know if I complain of breathing I will just get one of those stern doctor lectures. But this time it was bad enough that I thought I had better bring it to his attention.

I found out that I am in the early stages of emphysema. I never thought this would happen to me. This time when he said I have to quit smoking, I finally took it seriously. He was not talking about what might happen in the future, but what has happened and what would eventually cripple and kill me if I didn't take action. You see, every puff I take now destroys a little more lung and permanently takes away a little more of my ability to breathe.

I can tell you, I have never been so scared in my life. He suggested a clinic, and I signed up immediately. I went the first day, but I was really skeptical as to whether I could get off for even 24 hours. But, to my surprise, I actually stopped for the whole day. It was tough, though, and I was really shaky about making it for the next 24 hours, but I knew I was fighting for my ability to breathe.

When I went to the clinic the next night, I joined 11 other people-all who went 24 hours without smoking. They were all nervous--some were even physically ill from not smoking, but we were all off the full day and were proud of it. It was good to be with others sharing such a common bond.

The clinic meets every night the first week. Our instructor said that since it can be very difficult getting through the first 72 hours, focusing on just making it to the meeting the next day makes it seem a little more tolerable than thinking about making it for the rest of our lives. He said it was extremely important to attend those early meetings, not only for the information but for the support and motivation over such a crucial time period. Everyone in the meeting seemed to agree that being there each evening really helped motivate them to get through the next day.

The instructor reemphasized that we should arrange our schedules so we could attend every session. In fact, there was nothing else going on in our lives that week that was as important as quitting smoking. Anything we had to postpone at work or at home could be made up the next week and during the rest of our lives, but failing to quit smoking could permanently cost us our health and our lives.

When the instructor made the comment that there was nothing going on in our lives as important as quitting smoking he didn't know that I had tickets for your concert that next evening. I thought surely that would be an exception to the rule. After all, you would be gone next week. But, Julio, to my shock, when I told him the reason that I couldn't make it to the clinic, instead of agreeing he instructed me that seeing how shaky I was, I should forego the concert and attend the session. He acted as if missing the clinic for your concert was a lame excuse. But as important as my breathing is, I knew it was more important to see you.

So, Julio, I went to your concert. It was great too--everything I expected. I knew I made the right choice. The next day though, I went back to smoking. Funny, everyone else who went to the clinic that night made it through the next day and even through the weekend. In fact, they all are still off smoking. But they didn't get to see you that night. So who really got the best deal that day?

Anyway, my breathing is getting worse, and I am not sure now that I will be quitting again soon. If my instructor and my doctors are right, smoking the way I do, I may eventually become so impaired that getting to your future concerts may become difficult or maybe even impossible. I think you will agree I sacrificed a lot to see you, maybe even my life. But I am sure you would agree it was the right thing to do, wouldn't you Julio?

The next time you are in my area I may not be physically able to get to see you. Maybe as a reward for my sacrifice you can come do a private performance for me. But, I know you are a busy man, and even if you can't make it to my home or hospital bed, I will think no less of you. After all, I am your biggest fan and you have my unshakable devotion.

An Undying Fan?
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February 23rd, 2001, 9:10 pm#2

From: Joel (Mgr) Sent: 7/8/2000 6:00 PM 1 of 4
Thought this would help add perspective on the importance that should be put on the effort to quit. The odds are nothing else going on the week you quit has the long term implications of success or failure of smoking cessation. Give it priority. You are fighting for your lives.

Joel
From: Joel (Mgr) Sent: 8/7/2000 10:33 AM 2 of 4
Again, it is important for all Newbies to keep perspective of what is really going on in your lives at the moment and what is really the most important issue. What else is going on in your life this week that carries "life or death" consequences. I don't mean to minimize that other important issues are currently being faced but most other problems encountered in a typical week don't ultimately cause premature death. Smoking does and will if given the opportunity. Give the effort to quit smoking the importance it deserves. Again, you are fighting for your freedom, your self-respect, your health and most important your life. Keep focused on this and remember to overcome this now and for as long as you wish...never take another puff!

Joel
From: Stef Sent: 8/7/2000 3:04 PM 3 of 4
Didn't want any other newbies (like me) to miss this. Stef
From: Joel (Mgr) Sent: 11/25/2000 7:41 AM 4 of 4
I seem to be on a theme of giving priority to not smoking above all else the week you quit. But when it really comes down to it, you must give priority to not smoke the week after you quit, the weeks after that, the months after that, and the years after that too. Not smoking should always be a big deal. Never lose sight of this. To keep from having to go through another quit that may or may not take, or from relapsing until smoking kills you, always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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February 23rd, 2001, 9:21 pm#3

Hello everyone:

I haven't had a chance to be around all that much the past few days. But as I did get a few minutes here and there I have been so impressed by the level of support and great information coming out from many of our regulars as well as from many new members. The posts on attitude were great. I saw that we had 29 new people accepted for membership this week so I know there are a lot newbies here participating and some quietly reading and absorbing and hopefully well into their quits. I want to make sure that each and everyone of you recognize the importance of the week you quit and as this post addresses, keep your priorities straight on the importance of this quit. I also saw some past members poke their head in to deliver the message that it does get better. These short comments, while taking a minimal of time, do deliver a maximum punch to people in their early days of quitting. For that I thank all who have done it, and for our newbies, I hope you remember how that has helped you so that one day soon you will be able to return the favor to our next generation of people here fighting to regain their freedom, their health, their life.

Keep your quit important, whether this is your first day or thousandth day, not smoking should be considered an important aspect of day to day life. To be able to sustain the benefits, always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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February 23rd, 2001, 10:19 pm#4

Now that I have quit smoking I have a better chance at living a fuller life. Smoking really interferred in my life and to think that I had accepted it to smoke ,is insane. Two days ago I became ill and my breathing was shallow. I was scared. I told myself, it was too late that I had lung damage from smoking for 20 years. Instead of avoiding the doctor like I normally would as a smoker. I bravely told the doctor that I was having difficulty breathing. He asked me if I smoked. Proudly I told him no and that I had quit almost 2 months ago. He praised me for quitting. Meanwhile, I was sweating out the fact that I could have been to late. The doctor ordered x-rays. As I waited for the results my mind raced with every wheeze. Every minute that went by caused me more anxiety. I was and still am so regrettful that I have smoked for so long. The doctor came in and he was carrying my x-ray of my lungs. Without saying a word, I tried to read his face, he raised up the x-ray to the light. I wasn't sure if I wanted to stay in this room or leave at that moment. The doctor then started pointing out areas of my lungs telling me that he thinks that things are just fine and that I have an upper respiratory infection. All I need is some antibiotics. Whewwwh what a relief, boy did I dodge a bullet or what? The doctor then sternly lectured me on how important it is to continue not to smoke. My lungs are going to be fine from what he could tell in my x-ray.

So, I am glad that during my first weeks of not smoking I came here. I got good advice and support. My first week I did cancel plans that were possible triggers to start me back up. My life is better for it. This doctor appointment could have been entirely different. It could have turned out like the "Fan Letter" I am still careful on plans I make. Quitting for me will always be a big deal. I want to live and I want to be free. I want to experience what life is like not smoking.

I found this quote the other day and I want to share it with you all. Here is goes:
It is humanly impossible to keep sucking down hundreds of times a day a hot, poisonous, toxic, caustic, corrosive, noxious and carcinogentic gas filled with pesticdes and all kinds fo **** without your body and your spirit eventually breaking down! I don't know who wrote this. But, it's true.

Thanks to all
KatieMarie
One month, three weeks, five days, 5 hours, 57 minutes and 3 seconds. 2289 cigarettes not smoked, saving $400.74. Life saved: 1 week, 22 hours, 45 minutes.
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February 24th, 2001, 3:10 am#5

Thanks again, Joel, I love it when I find an extra boost to my quit. I always remember to tell myself each morning, during my daily meditations, that I WILL NOT SMOKE TODAY!!! Also, during that time, I thank my Higher Power for helping me to not smoke the previous day. It is important to me that I do this daily---I need to remind myself that I will not smoke--or Nicodemon will sneak up on me and as Hal puts it--bite me on the butt!!! An addiction is not something that ever goes away--if you are not on top of it all the time it will jump right back into your active, daily life. I, myself, will consciously fight against that ever happening to me...to become complacent with my quit is to let down my guard, and letting down my guard could be all that Nicodemon needs to try and get me back under his thumb....I WILL NOT SMOKE TODAY---just for today...that is all I have to do, and someone in another post said it rightly, tomorrow never gets here--it is always today...I can do today...I can do this minute---I will never take another puff--because the first puff is the most deadly....I now have not smoked for 1 month, 1 week, 2 days, 12 hours 12 minutes, I have left over 1,243 yucky, stinking cancer sticks unsmoked and stolen over $186.45 from the tobacco turds-----I am breathing deeper, hugging harder and living longer...lol yqs, shelle
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February 24th, 2001, 3:22 am#6

I do the same thing every morning Shelley. I wake up and make sure I tell myself 'I am NOT going to smoke today.' And before I go to bed that night, I make sure I congratulate myself by saying 'Way to go, another day gone, and you didn't smoke!' I know the only way I can stay quit is to keep reminding myself I am an addict and I can Never Take Another Puff. Thanks again to the great people who keep Freedom going, you are all doing a wonderful thing.
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March 17th, 2001, 6:32 pm#7

I saw yesterday where some people were nervous about drinking and social events. The weekend is when people first quitting are often the most apprehensive about such events. We were posting yesterday about keeping your priority on the quit. There is nowhere you are going or nothing you are doing that is as important as success in this effort. You are fighting for your health and your life and should never lose sight of this.

So what ever comes up, know you always have the option to leave and shoot back here if necessary. If you are concerned about a specific event, come here first and articulate your worries. It will help get you focused, it will also give many who have had similar experiences an opportunity to tell you how they got through it.

Then when the activity is over, come back, find the string and let us know how it went. It will be a learning exercise for all.

Have a good weekend everyone. It will be a good weekend too as long as you remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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March 17th, 2001, 10:09 pm#8

amen. it is all about priorities. it has to be.
(and for those passengers who are traveling with children or others needing assistance, please secure your own mask before that of the other person.)
peace,
maggie
day 36 CT
Never Question Your Decision To Quit
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March 18th, 2001, 5:21 pm#9

Joel, thank you so much for bringing this article up today. I don't believe I had read it since early in my quit.
I was out almost all day Saturday and I didn't give a thought about smoking. It was some other things that were bothering me and this article helped put things back into perspective again. I have sat here crying while I read it and thinking, but for the grace of God there go I. If I should ever weaken enough to take another puff I might not have the strength to quit again. So I plan to never take another puff.
Nora
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March 24th, 2001, 8:59 pm#10

Hello everyone. This letter has special importance to me today. Yesterday I had my panel night of the Stop Smoking Clinic. I always do my panel nights on the Friday night, to get people psyched up and prepared for the weekend. The panel as always was great. One of them was even a near and dear friend of this board, and was able to share her quit experiences with people just getting through their third day. I think all who were there greatly benefited. Three of the panelists were in fact more than 9 year plus ex-smokers and you could still feel the enthusiasm they felt for the decision to quit made so long ago. One of the panelists was just off four months, but she had at one time been off smoking for 20 years before a relapse. People like this serve as real eye openers for all. One 9 year ex-smoker was likley reinforced by meeting a one time 20 year ex-smoker who had lost a quit. Even the long term success stories learn from each other.

While this is all well and good for the people in attendance, it was sad to note that about 8 people from the clinic were not there. They may never again have the chance to hear these stories. The recollections of successful quitter may not only be helpful the day you hear them, they may be etched into your minds to prepare you for things that happen days, weeks and even years from now. Being prepped for the unexpected is important for everyone. The reasons they were not there were bowling commitments, tickets to school plays, sporting events and a few other reasons I don't know yet. But whatever they were, I know they were not as important as reinforcing the participants resolve to stay smoke free, not when you consider the implications of success or failure in this effort.

My point for the Freedom Board members is the initial time period when you are quitting is likely to when you spend the most time and energy learning and reinforcing your resolve to quit. Use this time wisely. Try to read as much here and in the library as possible and reinforce your resolve. See quitting smoking as a big deal, the biggest deal in your life right now, one that is basically saving your life. Try to remember this always, that not smoking is still a big deal. Even if it is easy now, it is still important. If you ever start to take not smoking for granted, come back again and read away. It will become clear to you that quitting was among the most important health decisions you have ever made in your life, if not the most important in fact. To keep that decision worth the efforts that you have already put into it, always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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April 5th, 2001, 8:57 pm#11

I am bringing this one up for Joanne today. The day I addressed it last was a couple of weeks ago after a panel discussion. As noted, there were several people who missed that session, and at the time I know it was a mistake for many of them. One of them relapsed a few nights ago, and I know Joanne took the loss hard. We really do become close to people in live clinics. We want everyone to succeed. It is hard for anyone to get lost in the crowd when seeing them day after day live. The person we lost was only 19 years old, and I actually made an impassioned plea for her to catch this particular session when I knew she had social plans up that night, as well as another she missed. But you can't force people to set priorities.

I do wish everyone who I ever met either live or online would quit smoking, but the reality is that some will not make it. Usually over half do in my clinics, and while we don't have any accurate tracking mechanisms for our Freedom boards statistics, it appears we have a good track record from overall appearance of things here. We all have to keep ourselves focused on those we do help, and also understand that we have educated everyone who comes through our doors, whether our real or virtual doors. Hopefully that education will help even those who we lose before it may be too late.

But for everyone who is here today and smoke free, whether it be for a day or a few years now, we should all feel great that we have a site to keep us all focused on this life saving venture. For those of you who primarily use only the board, do try to read all the letters in the library at some point. The material there may give you just a little added boost that while, it may not be essential today or even tomorrow, it may prepare you for unseen eventualities that can happen down the road.

Keep your guard up and ammunition reinforced to keep your resolve strong to never take another puff!

Joel
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October 14th, 2001, 6:57 am#12

Again I had nine people miss my panel discussion at my clinic last night. I have reached all but one of the people this morning and they were okay, but I always feel bad when participants miss such a valuable session. While it is true that life must go on even when quitting, there is seldom other things happening the particular two hours that carry such life and death implications as quitting smoking or not quitting smoking. I hope everyone here always treats not smoking with the utmost importance and due respect, and always do as much as they can to keep their resolve reinforced and their desire strong to never take another puff!

Joel
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November 11th, 2001, 9:04 pm#13

Keeping your focus as to why you quit and why you want to stay off should always be given a little time and a lot of priority over other issues that may be happening in your life. If you are in the early stages of your quit, devote as much time as you can to learn and understand as much as you can of the importance of quitting and staying off of nicotine. Longer-term ex-smokers probably don't need to spend an inordinate amount of time or effort, they just need to remind themselves of how far they have come and equally important, how far back they never want to go by quitting when they did. For them to stay free now simply entails remembering that they made the decision and have now committed to themselves that they will never take another puff!

Joel
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December 10th, 2001, 11:27 pm#14

Again I had my panel night on Friday and again about seven or eight class members skipped the session because of Friday night commitments. It never ceases to amaze me how many people mix up their priorities. One of the panelists was a woman who had gone through one of my early clinics back in January of 1978. After almost 24 years she reiterated how she still viewed quitting smoking as one of her greatest accomplishments of her life and that every day is still a big deal. I think our 15-year panelist agreed with her, as well as all of our other panelists, ranging from four months to almost a year smoke free.
In the beginning it is of course crucial and obvious that you should keep not smoking a big deal, but as time goes on it is still important to remind yourself that quitting smoking is a big deal and still deserves a high level of priority. It doesn't take a lot to reinforce a quit; probably just a few minutes a day. Read the post "I will not smoke today," and every day remind yourself how proud you are of yourself and renew your commitment for tomorrow to never take another puff!
Joel
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May 21st, 2002, 7:34 pm#15

For Jonas:

Keep in mind that as important as other things seem to be, even final exams, the test you are taking to prove that you can quit smoking has even more serious implications for your life. Passing this test of staying smoke free will literally save your health--flunking it carries ramifications that are crippling and deadly. Good luck on all your tests, but keep this one among your highest priority--prove to yourself that even under tests you can stick to your goal to never take another puff!

Joel
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June 7th, 2002, 2:40 pm#16

I had a few people miss tonights session because of prior committments. I know Friday nights this is often even a bigger problem because of weekend plans. I figured in the longshot that any of them happen to look in at Freedom today, this one may push them a little into rearranging their plans around to coming to the clinic. But also all of our members should recognize that there is nothing that they are doing that is as important as keeping themselves focused on the importance of staying reinforced to never take another puff!

Joel
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September 17th, 2002, 6:07 pm#17

This is a letter that just illustrates the importance of keeping your priorities straight. It is aimed more at our newer members than our members in a more mature quit state. We want our newer member to spend a lot of time reading here at Freedom and basically, going through the whole quit library and materials at www.whyquit.com.



We want all our new members to have all the basic information available here as ammunition whenever they need it. The messages or materials may not even be crucial the day you read them but they may be preparing you for triggers and situations that happen well into the future. So for you earlier quitters put your priorities now into getting as deep and thorough of an understanding now as to why you smoked, why you knew you should stop, how much work and effort you put into quitting and most importantly now, how to stay off cigarettes.




For our longer-term members, know that dropping in and lending support to our newer member is doing a great service to people--the same service that others had likely done for you that helped you reach your Freedom too. Helping will reinforce your resolve too. As is said in many other recovery programs, "To keep it, you have to give it away." This adage is particularly true in the case of your knowledge and motivation of smoking cessation.



Whether you are off smoking for hours or decades, the way to stay off now is by always remembering your addiction, appreciating your Freedom and reaffirming your commitment to never take another puff!



Joel
Last edited by Joel on January 15th, 2012, 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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October 28th, 2002, 3:16 am#18

Nicotine addiction is a terrible reason to die yet half of all adult smokers miss
out on roughly 5,000 days of life. Nicotine addicton cost Bryan and Noni
over 14,000 days of life. Haven't each of us given enough already?  
Last edited by John (Gold) on January 15th, 2012, 6:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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December 22nd, 2002, 11:57 pm#19

Joel, The information in your library is to the point, concise and a joy to read. Some people tend to over analyze , sometimes loosing the point completely. Thanks for keeping me focused in a simple manner. Birky 1 mth Plus
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July 31st, 2003, 12:13 am#20

The next few minutes are a big deal!
Only one rule - no nicotine today, Never Take Another Puff!
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September 26th, 2003, 5:15 pm#21

Keeping your focus as to why you quit and why you want to stay off should always be given a little time and a lot of priority over other issues that may be happening in your life. If you are in the early stages of your quit, devote as much time as you can to learn and understand as much as you can of the importance of quitting and staying off of nicotine. Longer-term ex-smokers probably don't need to spend an inordinate amount of time or effort, they just need to remind themselves of how far they have come and equally important, how far back they never want to go by quitting when they did. For them to stay free now simply entails remembering that they made the decision and have now committed to themselves that they will never take another puff! Joel
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October 3rd, 2003, 8:13 pm#22

The baseball playoffs are affecting my attendance in the clinic this week. This letter is particularly appropriate in addressing this issue. Working at reinforcing your quit should always be a top priority considering it is really an a life-saving effort. Very few other issues in your day to day life which may be important actually carry the life threatening consequences of the magnitude that losing your quit does. Don't let other issues get in the way of sustaining your focus and your commitment to never take another puff! Joel
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December 27th, 2003, 2:18 am#23

I recently received word that a participant who relapsed on the first night of my second clinic has died of lung cancer. Although Joel reassured me that her cancer was in all likelihood well-rooted long before the clinic, it doesn't make word of her passing any easier. Please take recovering "you" seriously! Please!
Just one day at a time, yes you can!
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December 27th, 2003, 2:46 am#24

John I am so sorry to hear of this person's losing the fight with nicotine and paying the ultimate price! Listen to Joel on this one--it is not your fault!

Thank you for the (not so subtle) reminder that we are all engaged in a life and death struggle with nicotine and that if we let nicotine win we lose big time!

No nicotine today, never take another puff!

yqb, David One month, two weeks, five days, 4 hours, 48 minutes and 54 seconds. 885 cigarettes not smoked, saving $66.42. Life saved: 3 days, 1 hour, 45 minutes.
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December 28th, 2003, 12:29 am#25

John, I am sorry to learn of the death of your student. I have been quit for
one month and 10 days and some days are harder of course. I tend to think
that I would not be the one to get sick if I smoke. I do not want to smoke
and do not plan to ever take another puff.
But, I still must take my quit one day at a time and remember why I don't
smoke. Have a great day.
jery
-----Original Message-----
From: John (Gold) [mailto:john@whyquit.com]
Sent: Friday, December 26, 2003 12:19 PM
To: Freedom From Tobacco - Quit Smoking Now
Subject: Re: The Fan Letter


-----------------------------------------------------------

New Message on Freedom From Tobacco - Quit Smoking Now

-----------------------------------------------------------
From: John (Gold)
Message 27 in Discussion

I recently received word that a participant who relapsed on the
first night of my second clinic has died of lung cancer. Although Joel
reassured me that her cancer was in all likelihood well-rooted long before
the clinic, it doesn't make word of her passing any easier. Please take
recovering "you" seriously! Please! Just one day at a time, yes you
can!

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