Maggie Bratton, 60, from Ponteland, Northumberland

Maggie smoked heavily from the age of 15. However, her life was turned upside down when she discovered she had mouth cancer at the age of just 45. She gave up smoking the night before she underwent surgery to remove the roof of her mouth. The experience has inspired Maggie, who also has COPD, to share her story to help raise awareness of the dangers posed by smoking.

“The operation involved removing skin from my leg to create a new lining for my mouth and I had an obturator fitted, a piece of plastic which basically holds my face in shape. I can’t speak or eat without it.

“I was in pain afterwards and had no feeling down the side of my mouth for a year. I had to learn to talk and eat again because everything was so different.

“I still get upset when I talk about what happened. It’s not an experience I would wish on anyone. I have to live with this every day knowing that it might have been prevented if I’d not smoked.

“If I had one message it’d be don’t wait until it’s too late to quit.”