Media Release

‘My wife’s breast cancer inspired me to instantly kick 60-a-day smoking habit’

A chain-smoking 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.

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 QEH.

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

Steve Arlington running
Steve sets off in the Asda Foundation GEAR 10k in King’s Lynn on May 6.

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.

“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!

“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. And Leigh has taken to joining some of the runs on her bicycle.

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.

Leigh said: “We were really pleased with the amount of money raised and particularly want to thank Mark Dicks and Sandy Foster for their support.”

Steve added: “We’re delighted to have been able to raise this money for the breast care unit. Every member of staff was fantastic. I know they see people like us every day but they really made us feel special and that made a big impression on us.”

QEH lead breast cancer nurse Angela Holford said the unit was very grateful for the terrific fundraising effort, adding: “The money will go towards improvements and equipment to enhance patient care.”

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust supports staff and patients to quit smoking through its partnership with East Coast Community Healthcare.

Members of the public wishing to access advice and support on giving up smoking for good should visit the Smokefree Norfolk website (


Main photo caption: Lead breast cancer nurse Angela Holford (centre) with Steve and Leigh Arlington,

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