When chain smoker Jayne Campbell went to her dentist for a routine appointment, a strange “discoloured patch” was spotted underneath her tongue.
The mum-of-two was immediately referred to a specialist dental hospital in Cardiff where doctors gave her the devastating diagnosis of mouth cancer.
It led to the 57-year-old needing a section of her tongue and part of the floor of her mouth removed to stop the disease from spreading.
“Even though everyone knows smoking isn’t good for you, you still don’t think it’s going to happen to you,” admitted Jayne, from Brackla, Bridgend.
“When I was told [I had cancer] I was just stunned, I couldn’t believe it. My husband was with me and his face just went white.”
Jayne, who described herself as a “life-long smoker”, had previously smoked 20 cigarettes a day for 35 years.
But as soon as the diagnosis was confirmed in 2016, she knew it was time to kick the habit once and for all.
“As I cried, my consultant told me I had smoked my last cigarette. He was so right,” she added.
“I knew I had to quit smoking straight away. Even though I was really scared, I had to be brave for my husband and two daughters.
“The worst thing was I knew everyone I loved would worry and there was nothing that I could do to take that worry away. That was awful.”
Within four weeks, Jayne had the tongue and mouth surgery which was successful and allowed her to recover quickly.
She has not had a cigarette since her diagnosis thanks initially to the help of nicotine patches and an app which tells her how much money she has saved.
Jayne added: “As of today the app says that I have not smoked over 23,000 cigarettes and have saved £7,682.00 which is brilliant.
“I would say to anyone looking to give up: it is hard at first but it gets easier as time goes by.
“But you can do it and you will feel so much better. Just think of how good you will feel and how much money you could save.”
Cancer Research UK is urging the Welsh Government to set a target to reduce adult smoking rates to a maximum of 5% by 2030.
Around 17% of the Wales population smokes, a proportion that is on course to halve to 8% over the next decade.
But the charity believes cutting the smoking rate to 5% would mean the Welsh Government taking action to accelerate the projected decline in smoking rates by around 40%.
However, Cancer Research UK claims this will only happen if the Welsh Government takes a lead to ensure all smokers who visit hospital are routinely offered support to quit.
Other measures, including greater awareness, promotion and access to free Help Me Quit smoking cessation services, will also be vital, the charity claims.
Andy Glyde, Cancer Research UK’s public affairs manager in Wales, said: “Smoking is enormously addictive and difficult to quit. It’s also hugely harmful to health so more needs to be done to let smokers know about the support available.
“This new forecast gives the Welsh Government good reason to be bold and set a target in its forthcoming tobacco control action plan to be smoke-free by 2030.
“Targets have already been set in Scotland and England. Smoking causes around 3,100 cases of cancer every year in Wales. It remains a tragedy that smoking continues to devastate so many families.
“But we know that quitting reduces the risk of cancer compared with ongoing smoking, so the reasons to strive for a tobacco-free society in Wales are unequivocal.
“We know that people who engage with smoking cessation services are around three-times more likely to be successful than going ‘cold turkey’.
“For the health of our population and to reduce the strain on health services, it’s vital the Welsh Government picks up the pace, is bold and ambitious in its next tobacco control action plan. Much more needs to be invested in ways to prevent people from taking up smoking and to support people to quit.”
There are currently more than 440,000 adult smokers in Wales, according to the National Survey for Wales.
But mum Jayne believes more needs to be done to help smokers quit.
“If I hadn’t had cancer, I wouldn’t have known where to start in terms of how to quit. For example, I didn’t know that here in Wales you can get a free prescription for patches at your GP instead of having to pay – that was a huge help to me,” she said.
“It shouldn’t take cancer to realise there is help out there and you can quit, I did try to quit before but it’s so addictive and people really need a lot of support to be able to stop for good.”