Wife’s breast cancer battle inspires man to instantly kick 60-a-day smoking habit and start running

Steve Arlington laced up his running boots after quitting smoking

Steve Arlington laced up his running boots after quitting smoking - Credit: Archant

A grandad who got through 60 cigarettes a day found that his wife developing breast cancer was the only motivation he needed to kick the habit for good.

Lead breast cancer nurse Angela Holford (centre) with Steve and Leigh Arlington

Lead breast cancer nurse Angela Holford (centre) with Steve and Leigh Arlington - Credit: Archant

Steve Arlington had tried to quit smoking many times before but managed to stop overnight in support of Leigh, who was diagnosed last September and treated at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn.

Steve, 51, was bitten by the running bug when he was one of nine family members and friends taking part in last month’s Asda Foundation GEAR 10k.

They raised £4,000 for the West Norfolk Breast Care Unit as appreciation for Leigh’s treatment, which completed in February, although she will remain on medication for five years.

The couple run Marshland Service Centre in Marshland St James and Steve told of his completely changed lifestyle as they presented the proceeds to the unit on Monday.


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“I used to smoke 50 or 60 a day, I’d always have a roll-up on the go,” he said. “But I went from one extreme to the other and stopped immediately without vaping or any other method.

“Leigh wanted to give up after her diagnosis and I knew if I didn’t there was no way that she would.

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“I have tried to stop many times in the past but always failed because it was other people wanting me to. This time I had a reason; I wanted to stop and was determined I would.”

Steve says he feels better for it and Leigh, 49, who has managed to cut down from 20 cigarettes a day to two or three, is relieved that his morning coughing ritual has ended.

Running was new to Steve prior to training for GEAR but now he is enjoying covering up to 30km per week with daughter Sharntelle and her friend Michelle Kemp.

Steve said: “It’s great because I’m also getting to spend more time with my daughter. So from something quite bad (Leigh’s diagnosis), a lot of good has come out of it.”

A pulled calf forced Steve into walking much of the GEAR course but he’s already committed to running it next year and hopes to win a place in the London Marathon.

Sharntelle and Steve and Leigh’s other daughter, Demi-Lee, completed the GEAR too, while their seven-year-old grandson, Dale, ran the 1.2 mile Mini GEAR with Sharntelle’s partner, Stuart Arlotte.

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