Jessica Therrien

Sudbury, Ontario

Do it Yourself – Commit to Quit Participant and $1000 Winner

At age 29, Jessica Therrien had been smoking for 10 years, was not physically active and never dreamed she could complete a 5 km run.

When a friend suggested she join the Canadian Cancer Society’s Run to Quit program, which incorporates learning to run or walk 5 km while at the same time quitting smoking, Jessica was reluctant. “I really didn’t think the Run to Quit program was for me or that I could do it, but my friend’s encouragement gave me the confidence I needed to take the first step and register.”

Busy planning a wedding, Jessica joined Commit to Quit, a part of the Run to Quit program where participants commit to quit smoking and complete a 5 km race on their own by a set date. To keep her on track, Jessica shared her goal with as many people as she knew and gained the support of her fiancé who agreed to quit smoking too.

Jessica’s biggest challenge was not buying cigarettes. “I would drive by a gas station and it would take every ounce of energy to keep going and not stop,” recalls Jessica. “To get over that feeling, I would remind myself why I am quitting and how unhealthy I will feel if I smoke now. Eventually, the urge to buy cigarettes went away.”

Race day was a bit overwhelming. Jessica always imagined that people who run 5 km races need to be fit, passionate runners and she didn’t relate. But when she arrived she was pleasantly surprised to see people of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels getting ready. “I ran the entire 5 km race surprising my friends, family and even myself. I stepped out of my comfort zone thanks to Run to Quit, I accomplished what I set out to do – quit smoking and run a 5 km!”

Jessica has advice for others who may be looking to quit smoking. “Sign up for Run to Quit, even if you are scared and think you can’t do it, you will not regret it,” she says. “The feeling after quitting smoking and running a 5 km is so rewarding.”

Jessica has been smoke-free since May 2016 and is currently training for her next 5 km race.