Nothing could make Mrs Rumsey give up smoking, not even having half a lung removed. When at the age of 55 she was diagnosed with lung cancer, she vowed she would never smoke again. What she had not realised was that she was suffering from an addiction that even a close brush with death could not cure.
"I stopped in hospital - it would be difficult not to - but when you come out you just automatically go for one, I'm afraid," said Mrs Rumsey, a 68-year-old mother of two. "It's addictive, you see. You can't give up. It's terribly hard." She eventually kicked the 20 to 30-a-day habit two years ago ,with the help of her husband, Derek, 67, and nicotine patches.
The onset of lung cancer aged Mrs Rumsey overnight. Before the operation she was a spry 55-year-old looking after two teenaged daughters and working part-time in the family factory. Afterwards, she had lost all her energy; she had aged "all at once".
Now, after 13 years of living under the shadow of lung cancer, suffering side-effects from radiotherapy and a further three operations, Mrs Rumsey is seeking compensation from the tobacco industry. "I feel that my family and I have suffered enough," she said. "Seeing as they [the tobacco manufacturers] encouraged the smoking in the first place, knowing it was addictive, I feel that they owe it to me."
Mrs Rumsey had her first cigarette at 14 as a way of being "sociable". Her main aim in bringing her case to court is to make other people, particularly youngsters, more aware of the consequences. "It may stop them doing it," she said hopefully.
Mr Rumsey had every sympathy with his wife's inability to give up smoking after the operation. "It's all very well to say someone should give up because they are ill, but they are in a state in which it is even more difficult to give up." He feels passionately that people should not be put in her position in the first place.Reuse content