Daughter of Morecambe woman who died from emphysema urges others to quit smoking

Thelma Burrow pictured with her daughter, Cath McLennan.
Thelma Burrow pictured with her daughter, Cath McLennan.

A woman who lost her mum to emphysema is supporting the latest anti-smoking campaign by asking smokers to make a quit attempt this month.

Cath McLennan, 54, from Morecambe, lost her mother, Thelma Burrow, in 2002 from the smoking related illness when she was just 62 years old.

Thelma Burrow on holiday.

Thelma Burrow on holiday.

Thelma, a mother-of-three, started smoking at a very young age and was only able to quit when she hit 40.

Mrs McLennan said: “She always smoked very heavily. I remember going to her office when I was younger, and she would have an ashtray on her desk which would be full to the brim with cigarette stubs.

“She would always have a cigarette hanging out of the side of her mouth – even when she was styling her hair.”

Even though Thelma did manage to kick the habit, the years of heavy smoking had already caused irreparable damage to her lungs and she was diagnosed with emphysema just two years before she passed away.

She chose to keep her illness quiet from her children for as long as she could to spare them any upset.

Mrs McLennan said: “I started noticing that she would get out of breath easily and I just kept telling her that she needed to improve her fitness levels and start exercising. Then one day she was round at my house, having tea and I noticed that she was struggling to eat. She told me she wasn’t feeling well, and she needed to go home.

“The next day she had a doctor’s appointment, which I took her to, and she told me that she couldn’t get out of the car and I needed to go and get the doctor to come out to her.

“As soon as he saw her, he told me that she needed instant medical attention and I needed to get her to A&E straight away.”

Thelma was admitted and remained in hospital with an oxygen mask for a number of weeks. This is when Cath and her siblings became aware of just how seriously ill their mum was. Despite being told that she could potentially only have days left to live, Thelma lived another four months, spending her last few weeks at home, where she peacefully passed away.

Cath said: “I look back and sometimes think, if she just hadn’t smoked then I’d have had so much longer with my mum. I miss her every day. She was such a good laugh, a brilliant role model and a right character.

“With the amount of information out there now about the dangers of smoking, I just think it’s daft that anyone would pick up a cigarette. There’s so much support out there, no one is saying you have to succeed the first time, just start the ball rolling and make a quit attempt this month.”

More information on how to make a quit attempt can be found at http://quit16.co.uk/ or www.nhs.uk/smokefree.