Losing three brothers to cancer in a space of only 12 months was a grief stricken time for Maria Borsi, but also one of great motivation for the former smoker. Maria, an Arabuna woman, 50 of Gepps Cross, said after seeing both her brothers pass away, she could no longer ignore the impact smoking was having on her family.

“Two of my brothers were really heavy smokers right up to the day they died or until they couldn’t physically smoke anymore,” she said. “It really made me take stock and think . . . gee we aren’t immortal, it actually can affect us.” A mother to three and grandmother to four, Maria says she remembers as a little girl running to the shops to buy cigarettes for her mum and other family members.

“When I was young, smoking was the norm, everyone smoked.  And I would often ask my mum if I could light her smokes for her. I was fascinated and thought it was cool,” she said. But it wasn’t until Maria was 24 that she took up smoking.

“The year my mum died I basically chain smoked and made myself really ill with bronchitis, all that really did was slow me down as I really relied on them at the time,” she said. More than 25 years later, Maria has given up smoking and her chest is the best it has ever been.

“It is still early days for me, nearly 12 months, but I don’t have that horrible, phlegmy, rattly chest. And I have a lot more energy,” Maria said. “I can run around with the grannies, without getting puffed out – that’s a real bonus!” For those people thinking of giving up smoking, Maria’s advice is to think about the advantages and what it would mean to your family.