Sunday 17 December 2017

Gerry again fronts 'QUIT' ad campaign

Mary Fogarty

BRAVE Greystones resident Gerry Collins has once again decided to take part in TV ads to help stop people smoking.

The Kilmacud native and former Dublin GAA senior footballer has terminal lung cancer caused by smoking. He took part in the campaign before, after beating throat cancer, however he and his family volunteered to do so again.

They hope that their story will inspire and encourage smokers to quit.

'The positive energy I got from doing the ads was amazing. I needed to focus on something other than the fact that basically I'm dying.'

In 2011, Gerry was one of three people featured in the QUIT campaign's films and TV adverts, telling his story of recovery from tobacco-related throat cancer.

In summer 2013, Gerry contacted the HSE to let them know that, sadly, he had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and to ask if this new chapter in his story could form a new phase of the QUIT campaign, which is a partnership between the HSE and the Irish Cancer Society.

He started smoking at 17 and became a very heavy 60-a-day smoker. 'Smoking was cool back then,' said Gerry. Doctors have now given him eight months to a year to live due to an inoperable lung tumour.

The super-fit man had injured his ribs boxing and took some time off training. 'The pains just wouldn't go away,' he said, describing the circumstances which led to his latest diagnosis.

'We just went into a church and cried, basically,' said Gerry on receiving the news alongside his family.

'I hope to continue in the fight against smoking. For me, it's a nice legacy to leave behind. People who are killed in a car crash never get to say goodbye. I've an opportunity to say goodbye. As sad and all as it is for the family, they're very lucky.

'There were three reasons I decided I wanted to do this,' he said. 'Firstly it was for myself, a positive thing for me to invest my energy in while dealing with my cancer. Secondly, I thought it would be good for my family, creating something powerful and meaningful for my kids to look back on.

'And finally, if even one person stops smoking because of what we've done, then it will all be worth it for me.'

'Gerry and his family have allowed us a window into their family life, and into how they are coping with and reacting to his diagnosis,' said Dr. Stephanie O'Keeffe of the HSE. 'By working with us to create new, hard-hitting TV commercials; discussing his smoking, his illness, his expected death and the anticipated loss to his family; Gerry hopes to inspire other people to quit smoking and help them to avoid the pain of illness and premature separation from their loved ones.'

The new adverts are being aired on TV, radio and online.

'We are very grateful to Gerry Collins who has shown extreme bravery and generosity in allowing us the privilege of sharing this precious time in his life,' said John McCormack, CEO of the Irish Cancer Society.

'I am certain that as a result of Gerry sharing his honest account of being a smoker and the impact smoking has had on his health, other smokers will be moved to take action and finally quit smoking for good and non-smokers will resist the temptation to start.'

Wicklow People

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