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From Linda Zacharyczuk ~ New Jersey, USA

August 14, 2000

Hi Everyone,

I do have a special story from the Connecticut PBS show that I want to share.  I decided to share it here as perhaps it will reach others that need encouragement.

I had made a decision to ask a special favor of Michael at the CT show but was afraid I would chicken out at the last minute, so I decided to put the request in a card that I was giving him to say goodbye.  The message read something like this:

"Michael, would you ask me to please stop smoking as I know that I will never break a promise to you.  I'm having difficulty quitting and this would do it for me."  I also put a picture of myself in the card to help him find me if he wanted.

The evening progressed as many of you have read in reports.  I had many wonderful photo opportunities with Michael but nothing was said and I was unsure whether to say something myself.  Finally it looked like he was getting ready to leave so I came up behind him and said, " Michael will you ask me to stop smoking, please?"  He whirled around with a sudden look of recognition and took me by my arms and said, "No, Linda, I won't ask you to stop, I'm telling you
to stop.  I will be VERY upset if you don't stop!"  Needless to say, he took my breath away.  Then I told him that I promised never to smoke again and that I would never break my promise to him.  He looked right at me and said, "I hope not as I will be very disappointed if you do".  Then he gave me that wonderful smile, a big bear hug, and a kiss on the cheek ( I kissed his back by the way).  My best friend, Lynda was standing next to us and he took her arm saying ,"I'm counting on you to make sure she doesn't". 

It has now been five days without smoking and, although I won't pretend it's easy, it has been easier then I thought as I just look at a picture of Michael and remember my promise.  I even have one in the visor of my car to help when the urges hit.  I won't say so far so good as I know I am really finished.  What an amazing and healing man is our Michael!!!!  For one brief encounter I felt like I was really a friend of Michael's and know that he really cares.  As I know he does care about all of us, he's just incredibly special that way.

Ultimately, I hope my story can help others as much as it has helped me break this awful smoking addiction. 


Linda Z  (Zacharyczuk)

Michael's fans have been sending messages of hope, support  and encouragement

Your message really touched me!  Michael is so sweet, I wouldn't be able to break a promise to him either! Keep up the good work!  Marcia - Georgia, USA

Linda's reply:  Marcia,  Thanks so much for your encouragement!  He truly is the sweetest man I've ever met.  Hope you don't mind that I posted privately as I know we've had a large number of postings on the list lately.  Thanks again,  Linda Z

To Linda -   With Michael's encouragement and your "will power", you will succeed in breaking your smoking habit.  I quit 13 years ago, and have never felt better.  I had smoked for 34 years, and watched my Dad have surgery for lung cancer, which gave him 12 more years of life.  Cigarettes are not worth it.  Keep up the good work!!! Each day will be a "little" easier.   So glad
that you and all the other girls had such a wonderful time with Michael!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    I sure enjoy the RAH video.   Nancy Nichols  

Linda:  Thank you for sharing your pledge and how Michael reacted to your request.  He truly is a very special and remarkable person.  From  the reports I have read this past week, it seems  like Michael is totally sincere and cares about  everyone.  I am behind you all the way to quit    smoking and pray that it will be an easy task for me.  It is great that Michael has not started up    again, so the two of you together can make it okay.  Alilee - Alabama USA

Let me add my congrats also on quitting smoking - from one former smoker to another - WAY TO GO!!  :-)  Kathleen a/k/a Kruss - Illinois USA

Reply  from Linda: Hi Kathleen and Everyone, I can't believe all of the support and encouragement I've received from this group in such a short period of time.  You guys are incredible!!!  I have to admit that I am finding it a little bit harder since getting home but your messages have REALLY helped.  Our Michael gathers only the very best fans, that is easy to see.  Thanks to all!!  Hugs,  Linda Z

Hi Linda Z,
I just read your CT  story. I am so glad you thought to ask Michael for encouragement to help you to stop smoking.  Some people just have those special qualities that let their light shine through and the BEST  part is they share that light and others catch the rays and feel the warmth.  Michael is blessed with that capacity.  Being in his presence in the PBS setting was was an extraordinary opportunity for us. I will cherish it always. It was so wonderful  of him to connect with you and I bet you could feel his empathy since he is going through the same thing having recently quit smoking.

I agree with you that Michael has that healing power. He has it though his music and now as we have witnessed first hand, he has it through his humanity. Love, Linda /PA/USA

Awww, Linda! 
That was a GREAT story - thanks for sharing it with us!  Now aren't you glad you worked up the courage to ask him in the first place?  Anyone who can think of something that original to say to the man must have what it takes to achieve their goal!  Of course, a little help from your "friends" can't hurt either!  ;-)  Can I make a suggestion?  When you're getting those "urges" and you look to those photos of Michael for reassurance and support, why not also think of him singing "I'll Be There For You"?  Sounds as if he will be!  :-)

Congratulations and Good Luck! You CAN do it!  Cheryl - Illinois, USA

Linda, thank you for sharing your wonderful story.  It brought tears to my eyes when reading it.  What a guy that Michael Ball is, huh?  Good luck with not smoking.  It isn't easy but definitely worth it.  Terri - California, USA  :)

Congratulations Linda!  When I met you in NY less than a week ago you were a smoker, and now you are smoke-free!  You should be very proud of yourself. One of Michael's most endearing qualities is the sincerity with which he expresses himself.  I am sure that he is cheering you on, especially since he is all too familiar with the challenge that you face.  We all know that you can do it.  It was wonderful to meet you and my wish for you is the following:  When we meet again, may the cigarettes be a distant memory, but inspiration behind your decision to give them up, be ever-present!  B4N,  Gail - New York USA

Hi everyone,  I would like to add my congratulations to Linda on her decision to stop smoking.  What a great story.  Just goes to show what a wonderful person Michael is. Every time you get the urge to smoke Linda, think not only of your promise to Michael but also remember we are all thinking of you and how disappointed you, as well as all of us, will be if you decide to "light up".
As the song goes "....if I can do it, if I just believe it.  There's nothing to it" (or something like that from "I believe I can fly").  Well, the last sentence doesn't actually describe how hard it will be, but the thought is  
Best wishes to you Linda, you  have made a great decision. 

Kind regards Joan - Australia

Thanks Joan, I absolutely love that song as it makes me think of Michael's strength and courage.  It would be nice to live up to that image.  Thanks again, Linda Z

Linda,  YOU CAN DO IT.  

Love Sue - England 

Thanks for the sharing....

I am so glad you shared that story and I wish you success in your quitting.  Your story was very touching and I too hope it encourages others to stop smoking. Having being there when my father drew his last breath 15 years ago when he died from lung cancer I can tell you that it is a heart wrenching experience that I can still remember clearly to this day.

Then watching my husband's aunt die from the same thing this month was just as heart wrenching. She was a heavy smoker as was my dad. By the time the cancer was discovered if she hadn't had immediate chemo/radiation they said she would have been dead within two weeks. Unfortunately because of other complications from the chemo and a bad heart she was dead in about two weeks any way. As it turned out my daughter and niece were the only ones there when she died. I won't go into details but she had to be resuscitated and then the
machines were turned off and my daughter held her hand until she died a half hour later. No one should have to go through that or watch someone go through that because of cigarettes.

Maybe your story and what I have just written will help others. I know quitting is hard but I pray that those who try to quit succeed and I hope Michael sticks with it because I'm sure his voice and lungs will be happy he did.  Take care. Martha - Michigan USA

Thank you for your encouragement, Martha!  I have to admit that I found it a little difficult to post it knowing everyone would know my struggle but I also knew I was among real friends.  Thank you for sharing your painful stories and maybe, with Michael's help, we can prevent more from happening.  Thanks again, Linda Z

Linda, that is absolutely *WONDERFUL*!! Yay!! I really hope you stick to it.
I've seen so many family members succumb to lung cancer, and it's horrible.
You're so much stronger than all of that! GO YOU!!  And as (I believe it was) Joan said, think of that song "I Believe I Can Fly"!! Totally can give you courage. I love the song, it was my Bat Mitzvah song. But not the Michael version...a) I didn't know who he was at the time (I discovered him a year later) and b) he hadn't recorded it yet anyway, he he (it was '97)  Great Job!!
Love Always, Laura :)New York/USA =)

Note from Linda: Well put, Linda!  He is truly an inspiration!  I could definitely feel his empathy as well as his determination that neither he nor I will fail at this.  Powerful energy!!  Thanks Linda Z

Hi, Linda!  Bless you, girl, for taking that important first step to quit smoking!
Telling Michael was a stroke of genius!  :)  I wish you lots of success.  I quit 12 or 13 years ago, and it was hard, but well worth it.  I felt better, more energetic almost immediately.   Also, it had started to affect my voice, but fortunately, my voice returned to its pre-smoking state. (another reason I'm glad Michael has quit!) Keep it up, Linda!  You CAN do it!  

Hugs!  Terri :) New York, USA

Hi Linda,  I was really amazed at your courage in wanting to quit, and doing something about it.  Many people say they will quit, and then find it too difficult, and start again.  But you have done something that is wonderful, for both you and your family. 

This is another reason why people is so good to look up to.  He seemed genuinely interested and affected by your request, and I think that is remarkable. 

I wish you all the luck, and know that your courage means something, and it will take you to a better place in the end!  Congrats!!!   Elaine - New York USA

Linda, Your story was inspirational, and as one more former smoker, I can relate. What a creative way to seek support! 

Please let us know how you feel a week from now, a month from now, and then a year from now.  =)

Best, Joyce in Ohio USA  a/k/a Meredith

Linda, I can only say, Good Luck, we know you can do it!!!

Ivette den Butter - Netherlands

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