Former smoker sings praises about Hollings program to quit smoking

May 25, 2022
picture of pharmacist Emily Ware, who helps people quit smoking, and patient Kimberley Trump side hugging and smiling at the camera
Emily Ware, Pharm.D., left, said that helping patients like Kimberley Trump quit smoking involves addressing the physical addiction as well as the behavioral component. Photo provided

Kimberley Trump, 58, sees her life as two parts – the first when she smoked and the other when she quit. Trump knows firsthand how difficult it is to kick the addiction. After trying and failing to quit several times, she now feels as if she has kicked the habit for good, thanks to the MUSC Health Tobacco Treatment Program.

“I’ve experienced just about every emotion possible while trying to quit,” Trump said. “I’ve been mad. I’ve cried. I haven’t slept well. It’s everything you’d imagine an addict going through. It makes me want to cry now because I know I’ve come a long way.”

Emily Ware, Pharm.D., a clinical pharmacy specialist who assists smokers in quitting, has been working with Trump since July. She said it is encouraging to see patients reach out for help to overcome an addictive behavior.

“I see Emily as my friend. She’s the only one who I’ll discuss smoking with.
She never once made me feel like I couldn’t quit."

Kimberley Trump

Trump said one of the driving factors in wanting to quit was to improve her health and reduce the chance of developing cancer. She has seen firsthand the impact smoking can have. Her grandfather died of prostate cancer, and her mother was treated for lung cancer at the age of 74.

MUSC Hollings Cancer Center is committed to helping patients kick the habit with the smoking cessation program. Tobacco can cause 12 different types of cancers and is linked to one out of every three cancer deaths. Trump said she doesn’t want to be one of those statistics.

A Pennsylvania native, Trump started smoking when she was only 13 or 14 years old to fit in with the other girls at school. What once was a hobby became a pack-a-day habit.

“I feel like I truly became addicted to nicotine in my mid-30s,” she said. “Smoking had just become something I did first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. It was part of my social life. My parents were heavy smokers, and I always told myself I wasn’t going to be. That’s when I really came to grips that I was addicted.”

Over the years, she had tried patches, gum and over-the-counter medicine to kick the habit. Once, she even quit smoking for two years. But every time, something would happen that made her start smoking again.

It wasn’t until March 2021 that Trump’s life really took a turn. After multiple tests and hospitalizations near her home in Pawleys Island, Trump was diagnosed with congestive heart failure caused by cardiomyopathy. Doctors told her that only 10% of her heart was functioning properly.

“I couldn’t breathe, and I was coughing all night. I thought it perhaps could be the cigarettes. After my mom’s diagnosis, the possibility of lung cancer crossed my mind.”

Trump was transferred to the MUSC Health Advanced Heart Failure clinic. It was here that she was introduced to the Tobacco Treatment Program and spoke for the first time with Ware about getting help to quit.

“I see Emily as my friend,” Trump said. “She’s the only one who I’ll discuss smoking with. She never once made me feel like I couldn’t quit. I slipped and fell off the wagon a few months ago and picked up a cigarette and started buying them by the pack again. I stopped on Oct. 13. Since then, I haven’t had a cigarette.”

"Quitting smoking can seem overwhelming to tackle all at once. Those small, achievable goals each day can, over time, turn into major progress and help prevent conditions like cancer and heart failure.”

Emily Ware, Pharm.D. 

Trump said it is the personalized care that the smoking cessation program offers that makes all the difference. “Sometimes I just need to have that long ramble about how I’m feeling and how I’ve been doing on this journey. Emily has never once made me feel like I was taking up too much of her time.”

Ware said she sees tobacco treatment from two sides of the coin that need equal attention. “The first side is the physical dependence. A lot of patients have been smoking almost their entire lives, so naturally their bodies have developed a dependence to a very addictive substance. This is where medications can come in and minimize withdrawal symptoms or cravings,” Ware explained. “Another huge factor is the behavioral side of smoking. Smoking is a part of patients’ routines and habits for many years, and you have to learn how to identify triggers for the habit.”

Ware said she instantly bonded with Trump when they met in July 2021 over their love for crafts. Ware said she used the hobby to show Trump how crafts could be a positive thing to do when she got an urge to smoke. Ware came up with a game plan and has helped Trump to stick to it.

“The first goal was to completely replace the nicotine she was getting from smoking with the patches and lozenges, which helped prevent 7,000 chemicals and toxins from the cigarettes entering her body,” Ware said. “Once she had succeeded with that, we slowly weaned her off those products. Each visit, we would discuss the benefits that were occurring as she remained smoke-free and her motivations of being a role model to her daughter, who is also a smoker.”

Ware said her best advice to those looking to quit smoking is to take it one day at a time. “Quitting smoking can seem overwhelming to tackle all at once. Those small, achievable goals each day can, over time, turn into major progress and help prevent conditions like cancer and heart failure.”

Trump is currently on the list for a heart transplant. She hopes her story – struggles and triumphs – can serve as an inspiration to others hoping to kick the habit.

“I want to live. I want to see my grandchildren graduate and get married. I want to live to see my great-grandchildren,” she said. “My daughter said if I can make it to 20 years, she’ll throw me a big party. Right now, I’m just taking it one day at a time.”