How five smokers kicked the habit

Free one-on-one coaching sessions with a ChristianaCare tobacco treatment specialist — along with free nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches and gum or quit-smoking medications — are helping Delaware residents increase their odds of quitting smoking.

Vito DiChiara

Vito DiChiara no longer starts his day with a cup of coffee. He also no longer starts his day coughing to try to clear his lungs.

By changing his approach to old habits and triggers — like morning coffee or drinks with friends — he now breathes easier, his clothes no longer smell like smoke — he knows now that he can smell things again — and he can really taste a meal for the first time in years.

DiChiara had already been thinking hard about ways to quit when he found himself in and out of the hospital, first with Legionnaire’s disease and then for subsequent breathing issues.

It was there he met his quit coach who helped him start the nicotine patch, free of charge. Having a one-on-one expert in the field as a sounding board was a big help, DiChiara said. Now almost six years later, he is smoke-free and his health is a lot better.

This self-employed father of two is back to enjoying trips to New York, dancing, horse races and a passion for cooking large Italian meals.

“Just to wake up and not cough is a good way to start the day.”

Larry Kleiber

Larry Kleiber started smoking when he was 10 years old.

When he wound up in the hospital 50 years later with high blood pressure, double vision and the inability to do much of anything physically, he knew he had to do something.

“Talking with my quit coach really helped,” said Kleiber, who also found success with Chantix®, an oral medication provided free of charge through ChristianaCare’s Smoking Cessation Program. “I had tried to quit before, but this face-to-face smoking cessation program was just what I needed. I didn’t want to let my coach down.”


Since he gave up smoking tobacco, Larry Kleiber is much happier doing everyday things, including working on car engines with his son, Jesse.

Smoking is no longer pleasurable for Kleiber. “It’s a miracle in my mind,” said Larry, who thought he could get off cigarettes. “Cutting out nicotine was the hardest thing to do, but it is such a sense of accomplishment! I don’t want to go back to where I was.”

His family also appreciates the benefits. “My son likes me better now!” he said, half-joking. The two enjoy working together on race cars now that Dad doesn’t hack and cough all the time.

“ChristianaCare’s Smoking Cessation Program — that’s where I received all the help that I needed.”

Dom DiChristopher

Dom DiChristopher

Dom DiChristopher keeps pictures of his grandchildren under his calendar and highlights each smoke-free day with a pink circle as a visual reminder of the healthier legacy he is creating for them. His wife also quit around the same time, and the two plan to use the money saved from not buying cigarettes for a Jamaica vacation.

When he was ready to quit, DiChristopher did his research and learned that coaching increased his odds for the best result. “Coaching helps determine triggers and find unique coping techniques that work with my lifestyle. I wanted the best odds to beat this addiction, and coaching certainly helped,” he said.

A smoker for 40 years, what DiChristopher likes best about being tobacco-free is not having to plan his life around cigarette breaks before and after meetings, sporting events, church services and other activities. He admits he gets cravings every day, but when they hit, DiChristopher reaches for a lollipop and remembers his sweet grandchildren.

Susan Yeatman

Susan Yeatman

The road to quitting started with a heart attack for Susan Yeatman.

“That’s it. I don’t want to do this anymore!” she said of her roughly 30-year smoking habit. And quit she did — cold turkey. Pills and patches didn’t agree with Yeatman, but regular meetings every few weeks with her ChristianaCare quit coach did the trick. It was a struggle, but well worth it. Yeatman has been smoke-free for two years now.

The key for this retiree, who enjoys painting classes at the University of Delaware’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, is to keep busy, take care of herself and drink a lot of water. It also helps that she doesn’t want to smoke around her grandchildren. Being here to see them grow is her motivation. Her quit coach provided the encouragement and tools to help her stick to that goal, and for that, she is grateful.

“My clothes and hair no longer smell like smoke. My house doesn’t smell. I no longer have sinus problems and I’m so much healthier. My body is better,” Yeatman said. “Thanks to this program, here I am today. I’m free!”

Cindy Sokol

Cindy Sokol

After nearly two weeks in the hospital with COPD, Cindy Sokol knew the time had come to quit her 40-year pack-and-a-half-a-day smoking habit. She started using nicotine gum in her hospital bed through ChristianaCare’s Project Connect smoking cessation program, and within a few weeks of getting home she  signed up with a personalized quit coach — a decision that she believes saved her life.

“I can breathe easier, I have more energy, my test results are better and I feel good about myself,” said Sokol, a retired paralegal and proud grandmother 11 times over.

Without her quit coach and the medications provided free of charge through the program, Sokol said she would likely be back in the hospital. Instead, she said, “I’m two-and-a-half years smoke-free and proud of myself!”

Sokol encourages others to join her in becoming smoke-free, but acknowledges that you have to want to do it for yourself to be successful. To anyone ready to make the call, she wholeheartedly said, “Do it! It’s worth it. Talking with your coach will give you encouragement and keep you moving forward. It’s a decision that will add years to your life.”

One-on-one coaching

Ready to kick the habit? Contact ChristianaCare’s Smoking Cessation Program at 302-623-4661 to register for free personalized counseling with a ChristianaCare quit coach today. To work with a quit coach over the phone from any state, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit the Delaware Quitline.