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We are Not Concrete

I just completed a most unusual intellectual assignment—evaluating molecular biology and pathobiology research grant applications.  When I learned of my assignment, I wondered how I’d make the academic stretch from civil engineer to biologist.  Sure, on a good day, I can spell pathobiology correctly without aid of a spell checker. Why would someone deliberately assign me to review molecular biology stuff?  I’d forgotten.  I was a lung cancer survivor and expert, not by education but by expe

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

Lung Cancer Accounting

LUNG CANCER ACCOUNTING—A METHOD TO WIN THE BILLING BATTLE Treatment for lung cancer was, hands-down, the hardest thing I ever endured.  What’s the second hardest?  Without a doubt, it is settling treatment bills.  After nearly 13 years, I still get them.  Despite all of the advances in information technology, medical invoices, including medical insurance invoices, are the most unnecessarily complex documents ever created.  Their level of useless intricacy bests even lawyer generated minutia

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

Chemo Doesn't Work and Oncologists Get Rich

Chances are you pay attention to new treatment developments. I was aimlessly scrolling through a social media app when I happened on a dramatic interview.  Everything was staged to look legit.  The interviewer looked like a TV reporter, the background scene looked like a doctor’s office, and the set up question “doctor, let me talk about cancer a little bit” got my attention.  The camera changes views to the doctor as the reporter says, “what are some of the things you’ve seen in terms of y

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

Olympic Surgery

The summer Olympics kindles an unpleasant anniversary.  I was in hospital recovering from a failed bronchopleural fistula surgery complicated by pulmonary embolism, further complicated by pneumonia, and then aspirational pneumonia. After surgical mayhem and ensuing coma, I settled into a nil per os or NPO recovery from a uncooperative epiglottis.  July, August, and early September of 2004 were clearly the worst days of my life.  The only joy was watching Katie Couric’s daytime TV Olympic broadca

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

If it Walks Like a Duck

“Terminal stage IV lung cancer patient miraculously cured by cannabis oil.” “Frankincense oil kills cancer cells while boosting immune system.” “The real reason pharma companies hate medical marijuana is because it works.” If you are a lung cancer survivor, you’ve read these pronouncements. Hopefully, you don’t believe them. The purveyors of miracle cures are so persuasive that some people avoid conventional treatment and rely instead on the unconventional. I remember my frantic web search

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

A Political Test for Physicians?

I’m reading of a Yale University study that advocates we choose primary care physicians by testing their political views. It is political open season and medical reporters want to join in the feeding frenzy.  The danger is some will believe a political test (views on motorcycle helmets, pot smoking and firearms to name a few) is necessary physician competency criteria, especially since the test is aimed at our closest and most important connection to the medical system—the general practitioner.

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

Uncertain Treatment Outcomes: A Baseball Model

Baseball is a game that requires patient players and fans. Like lung cancer treatment, there is a lot of waiting for something to happen. Also like lung cancer, the game is unpredictable. A single pitch can change the outcome of a game like a single cell can change the outcome of treatment. And like lung cancer, baseball has many uncertainties and these are defined by odds. The best hitters succeed a little better than one in three times; the best teams winning about six in ten games. Baseball p

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

Targeting My Type With Chemicals

“Squamous cell cancer offers distinct therapeutic challenges by virtue of presentation in older patients, its physical location in the chest, pattern of metastasis and association with comorbidities that can compromise treatment delivery and exacerbate toxicity.” This quote is from the article Targeted Therapy for Advanced Squamous Cell Lung Cancer. When diagnosed, almost 13 years ago, I didn’t realize lung cancer had types. Pathologists visually classify lung cancer cells seen under a micr

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

I'm new and scared

Hi all, I hope this is not stupid. I'm going to see a pulmonary doctor Saturday and I'm scared to hear the news. I'm almost positive I have lung cancer. Can someone tell what the first consultation will be like? thank you!

Mike Martinez

Mike Martinez

 

Lung Cancer's Painful Quadratic Equation

Early on, we learn Algebraic equations with only one solution. Then we encounter equations with two solutions -- Quadratic Equations. Consider: x2 + 3x – 4 = 0. This has two solutions:  x = -4 or x = 1. Both are correct; one is negative and one is positive. Algebra students get very comfortable with solutions having a positive and negative outcome -- lung cancer survivors are less comfortable! The positive outcome for lung cancer is extended life. But like quadratic equations, there can be

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

Hope Is A Good Thing

Red, in white shirt and loose thin-black tie and sweating in Maine’s summer heat, is leaning on a rock-wall fence.  He’s just opened Andy’s letter found under the black obsidian rock.  In the background we hear Andy reading his evocative description of hope: “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies.” The movie Shawshank Redemption is a powerful story about hope and life with a message that should resonate with every lung cancer survivor. I wa

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

Depression in Lung Cancer Patients

It’s normal for someone diagnosed with cancer to experience feelings of sadness, fear, anger and grief.  It’s when those feelings prevent you from functioning in your everyday life and you feel emotionally paralyzed in your situation for an extended period of time that you need to seek help. Cancer patients experience depression two times more than the general population and studies have shown that mental health and social well-being can affect the success of treatment.  Those diagnosed wit

KatieB

KatieB

 

Submitted by Melissa Crouse

10 years ago I was diagnosed with NSCLC and was told that with an operation and treatment, I had 3-5 years to live .   After an upper left lobe resection followed by systemic chemo I went into remission and enjoyed 2 1/2 years of precious time.  Then, a checkup revealed that I had 17 mets to my liver and a couple of “hot spots” in my lungs. At that time I joined the already very full ranks of stage 4 NSCLC patients.  The day I was to begin another course of chemo, my oncologist recommended

KatieB

KatieB

 

Submitted by Dann Wonser

Last year, after seventeen months on Tarceva, I got the news. My lung cancer was off it's diet and was starting to get fat again. It was time to try a different treatment. But what was left? Seeing my doctor's scrunched-up face while he stared at the floor said it all: He had run out of hope that anything would work. Chemo and Avastin had kept my cancer at bay before Tarceva, and together these three drugs had given me three extra years of life. But they had all eventually run their course.

KatieB

KatieB

 

Submitted by Jan Gibson

My cousin Kathi, who was more like a sister to me, died of lung cancer in December 2003.  She was 46 years old.   At the time, I didn’t know the first thing about lung cancer.  Since Kathi smoked for years, I thought that’s why she got lung cancer.   I didn’t think too much more about lung cancer for the next year, although I thought about Kathi every day. Then, about a year later, I had a sharp pain in the right side of my chest, like a knife stabbing through my chest and back.  I thought

KatieB

KatieB

 

Submitted by Donna Fernandez

When my Stage IV lung cancer was discovered in October 2012, I was, as far as I knew, as healthy as I have ever been in my life. I was playing agility with my two dogs three or four nights a week and every weekend. For those who do not know, agility takes a lot of stamina and energy! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCFrUCu6F_g) I went to the doctor because I kept gaining weight. No matter what I did, I couldn't lose it. Since I had always been tall and thin, the extra weight was disturbi

KatieB

KatieB

 

Submitted by Bobbie

I was diagnosed with SCLC January 2009 and as of today, 10/6/15, there is nothing in my lung except a scar from radiation. No sign of cancer. I beat the odds. I had 5 rounds of Chemo and started chest radiation after the second round. I started PCI 2 weeks after the final chest radiation. My radiologist gave me a lower dosage for the PCI and an additional 2 treatments because I also have MS and PCI causes demyelination. I am cold all the time. I used to be hot. I don't sleep well. I am scar

KatieB

KatieB

 

Submitted by Katie Gilley

My hubby of 19 years, Jeff was diagnosed with stage 4 NSCLC on July 31, 2015. He has the EFGR mutation and is responding well to Tarceva. He is 49, never smoker. He has three tumors in his lungs and a page and a half of mets in his bones! Lots of tumors. He lost 35lbs and he was already a lean bean. I tell you all this, so you know there is hope. He was in bed for two and a half months. Two days ago he was climbing a ladder and swinging a hammer. He was on 75mcg of Fentanyl and now is is NO pain

KatieB

KatieB

 

Therapy Online?

The nature of the World Wide Web is the essence of its creators. We’ve made a conduit of ideas and information that chronicles every facet of human behavior and lots of non-human behavior. One can find a searchable version of the bible and then click to something that would be an embarrassing find in the bible. The Internet is encyclopedia, newspaper, entertainment, and abstraction all available with only one precondition, access. I was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer in 2004. The Int

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

Few Patients Understand Their Prognosis

Just reported is a Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Cornell University study showing but 5% of terminally ill cancer patients understand the gravity of their disease and prognosis. Moreover, only 23 percent of these had a discussion about life expectancy with their doctor. At first pass, I questioned the validity of the percentages.  They were so low they bordered on unbelievable. This had to be mainstream press sensationalism at work! Then I spoke with an expert, and she convince

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

10 Steps to Surviving Lung Cancer from a Survivor

MY STEPS TO SURVIVING A LUNG CANCER DIAGNOSIS Step 1 – Invest in sophisticated diagnosics before diagnosis If you smoke, were a long-term smoker, or are in an occupation that exposes you to carcinogenic toxins (asbestos removal, auto mechanic, painter, etc.), I suggest getting a computed tomography (CT) scan, often called a CAT scan, of the chest once a year. Insurance now covers it and CT will detect tumors far earlier than a chest x-ray. Early detection of small tumors dramatically e

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

The Caregiver's Plight

Now, long after the commotion of active treatment, my wife and I often share recollections. Martha is my caregiver and for more than 3 years of near constant therapy she held the long thin line. In doing so, she had to confront my anxiety, discomfort and fear. These were variable; the constant foe was my general irascibility towards medical treatment. Now a 12-year survivor, we both laugh at some of my antics. But during treatment, there was high drama to deal with. It is not easy to watch

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

Connecting People to Hope

I recently read a quote from a cancer survivor about online support.  "When I stumble, there are so many virtual hands to catch me.”  This is the same sentiment that has been expressed about LUNGevity’s Lung Cancer Support Community and the many support groups on Facebook.  People impacted by lung cancer can come online and be embraced by others who have walked the same journey and who understand what they may be going thru. There is power in the written word and from receiving support from a gr

KatieB

KatieB

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