Cork woman who lost dad, 55, to cancer urges smokers to quit saying cigarettes destroy families

Natasha O'Leary with her father Geoff O'Connell who died after a battle with lung cancer

A young woman who recently lost her 55-year-old father to lung cancer is urging smokers to quit.

Natasha O’Leary, 20, from Ballyphehane in Cork, made the heartfelt plea on Cork’s Red FM as she detailed her father Geoff’s last day and the support he received from Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane.

Natasha revealed that her father, Geoff O’Connell, had tried on numerous occasions to give up smoking.

He died three months ago at Marymount Hospice in Cork City.

Natasha said her father was heartened by the kindness shown to him by Keane who regularly rang him and called to see him when he returned to Cork.

“After dad was diagnosed Roy took him out to Scoozis [restaurant] for dinner. We are so grateful for his kindness. Dad and Roy used to chat on the phone practically every second day.”

In Natasha’s final conversation with her father, he asked her to quit smoking. Natasha had smoked heavily in the final days of his illness but is now down to one or two cigarettes a day.

Having seen her father ravaged by cancer, she is appealing to members of the public to cut back or quit smoking.

“I got worse [with smoking] when my dad got sick. When he passed I got worse. One of our last conversations he said I should give up. He was very aware of what was going on. We were best friends.

“If he was here today he would be telling people to quit before it is too late.”

Natasha told The Neil Prendeville Show that the morning after her father’s death she lit up a cigarette in the car.

She was parked outside a church and an old man gestured to her to wind down the window. He then told her to put out her cigarette as he had lost a loved one to lung cancer and didn’t want to see that happen to a “lovely young lady” like her.

Natasha is keen to give up smoking as she says cigarettes destroy families. She sorely misses her father.

“It is hard but you have to get on with it. ”


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