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About this blog

A blog by lung cancer survivor Tom Galli

Entries in this blog

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

Social Security Disability by Disapproval

Perhaps you’ve heard?  The federal government is a large insurance business with a standing army.  Social Security is insurance — a specific kind of insurance called an annuity.  The insured and employer pay premiums every month to fund a defined benefit at a specified year (normally your federally mandated retirement year).  Everything is peachy-keen till a disability affects work because one has late stage lung cancer.  And, when a lung cancer survivor files for disability, allowed by law and

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

My Friend Randy

It was mid-morning on a beautiful February Sunday in Texas when my phone rang.  Randy’s name flashed on my phone screen and on realizing who it was, my mind raced to recall the last time we spoke. Pam his wife greeted me, a mild surprise. Randy and I grew up in the same Pennsylvanian township and attended high school together.  Our lives parted with college and after an Army career took me everywhere but home. Randy settled in our hometown.  We had many things in common including surviving

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Celebrating Sixteen Years!

I continue the tradition of anointing my toes with paint for each year I survive this horrid disease. Till year 14, I applied red paint; now it is Lungevity blue. The tradition of painting a toes was started by Dr. Phil Berman, a never smoker radiologist diagnosed with Stage IV, NSCLC. He started RedToeNail.com, an early online cancer survivor blog and painted 5 toes of life before lung cancer claimed him.  My tenure of life is a message of hope. If I can live, so can you. Stay the course.

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Fourteen Years, Three Right Feet!

This is my fourteenth anniversary surviving a lung cancer diagnosis.  Granddaughter Charlett's decorated toes join mine to keep our right feet forward! I paint my toes every year as a celebration of the joy life brings. In early treatment, there was no joy.  There was fear, frustration, pain, uncertainty and scanziety. I'd not yet discovered Dr. Phillip Bearman who taught me the reason for lung cancer treatment -- achieving extended life.  Phil decided he would live every moment to the fullest d

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Grandfather and Survivor

Meet Charlett Emilyrose Wilson, my first grandchild.  Her parents, daughter Melissa and son-in-law Bill, are overjoyed.  I am ecstatic!  Proud would be a vast understatement! Charlett was born 12-years, 8-months, and 13-days after my diagnosis with NSCLC.  I celebrate this joyful milestone in my life for but one reason.  If I can live, so can you. Stay the course.

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

A Life Well Lived

A lady with lung cancer passed early this morning. I knew her well. She survived two surgeries claiming a lung, radiation, and many many infusions of chemotherapy. Indeed, her disease was being treated like diabetes or heart disease — a chronic but controlled condition. Lung cancer did not claim her and death is not a celebratory event, but living a full and meaningful life despite lung cancer is indeed praiseworthy. In characterizing the lady’s life, full and meaningful are an enormous und

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Cursin' On a Sunday Afternoon....

We are "locked and loaded" for our fifth Transatlantic cruise since I was diagnosed with lung cancer. This Sunday, we depart from Ft. Lauderdale and fifteen leisurely pamper-filled days later, arrive in Southampton, England. Along the voyage, we'll visit Bermuda (a first), the Azores (an other first), Lisbon (been there), Bilbao, Spain (a first), and Le Harve, France (been there). And best of all -- no jet lag! We are serious cruisers and are thrilled to cross the pond in a brand new ship (Celeb

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

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

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

The Cadence of Scan Days

"Count-off...One, Two...Count-off...Three, Four...Bring it on down now...One, Two, Three, Four, One-Two...Three-Four!"  My life is filled with counting.  As a young soldier on the march, we counted cadence to stay in step.  The rhythm of the cadence was an elixir to the mile-upon-mile-upon-mile of forced march in full combat load.  They always scheduled the forced march on the hottest day, or the wettest day, or the coldest day of the year.  One memorable march was the day after a hurricane

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

My Thoracic Surgeon Comes to Dinner

I've survived a lot of medical treatment. The most sophisticated and creative was while in the care of an extraordinarily gifted, courageous and talented surgeon. We invited him and his wife to dinner to renew our acquaintance and review the bidding.  The dinner was memorable. I could launch into the details of my 8 surgical procedures performed by this brilliant man but that story is told elsewhere. Of more interest to this community is what are the indicators of brilliance in a surgeon? 

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Twice A Veteran

I’m an armed forces veteran. Also, a late stage diagnosed lung cancer survivor veteran. A smoker, I once had little doubt that smoking caused my lung cancer. Yet almost everyone in my immediate family smoked and none developed the disease. Could the unique hazards of armed forces training and warfare played a role in my disease?  Looking back, early in my career were demolition projects involving World War II era structures that were filled with asbestos. On deployment, burn pits predominat

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

A Day of Thanks

It is a beautiful Thanksgiving Day in Texas. Amid COVID mayhem we are suffering, Mother Nature decided to intervene and give us this gorgeous day to remind me about the important things in life. I've been blessed in so many ways since my surprise lung cancer diagnosis in February 2004. I married the love of my life, walked my daughter down the aisle, experience the birth of my granddaughter, enjoyed glorious vacations, and perhaps most important found meaning and purpose for life after lung

Tom Galli

Tom Galli in Stay The Course Blog

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

Breathe Deep

How does one find joy in lung cancer?  I find some of mine by celebrating survival, and there is no better way than to attend a LUNGevity sponsored Breathe Deep event. Our's was a pleasant but breezy fall Texas day and about a hundred of us showed up to the celebratory walk-jog-run event.  Our pleasant jaunt around the Arlington Texas park also raised thousands of dollars to undertake LUNGevity focused research for new diagnostic and treatment methods for lung cancer.  But, while fund raisi

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

And Major Means What?

“Drug-related deaths have grown to be a major US public health problem over the last two decades.  Between 2006 and 2015 there were more than 515,000 deaths from drug overdoses.…” This from a March 26 article in Science Magazine. The death rate averages 5,722 per year over the cited period.  Further, “the drug epidemic is a pressing concern among policymakers.” This concern translates to a $865 million research budget for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This budget funds $151,117 per indiv

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Deja Vu All Over Again

I'm writing this from a Florida Hospital radiation clinic waiting room. My daughter is having intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) to treat her meningioma residual left over from surgery 3 months ago. This was her second brain surgery and in between was the birth of my granddaughter. Ironically, our greatest joy was sandwiched between our greatest fear.  She'll have at least 30 fractional sessions. I'm here doing grandfather and father stuff, the former fun, the latter hard as nails

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Second Opinions

I had an interesting chat with my general practitioner over the Fourth of July holiday.  He’s a gentleman rancher with an abundance of tomatoes so I brokered an invite to his beautiful ranch to relieve him of his abundance. A social cup of coffee segued into a wide ranging conversation about medicine, ranching, politics, engineering and cancer treatment.  Doc has lots of opinions but they are founded on deep study and comparative analysis.  But, unlike most intelligent people, he rarely use

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Ring That Bell

There are advantages to receiving lung cancer treatments in small clinical settings.  Among them is everyone knows your name and treatment circumstances.  Scheduled for a CT scan with contrast yesterday, when I checked in I was routed to the infusion area to have my IV device installed.  Chris, the radiology technician who’s been scanning me for almost 14 years, is well aware of the difficulty of installing an IV.  So he passes me to the infusion nurses who yesterday managed to capture a vein, f

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Tis The Season

Today we pause to celebrate new life, life continued, and hope renewed.  For me this is a holy season but it has a much broader meaning, especially for those struggling with lung cancer. Christmas Day is a celebration of new life and a continuation of life. The new life is Christ while continuation is everyone alive.  Including especially, those who live with lung cancer. We have at first glance an insurmountable challenge: to live with a disease that consumes our body with cells made of our bod

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Free and Invaluable

Using the words free and invaluable to characterize lung cancer medical care is a hard sell. I’ve seen so many scams promising this, that, and the other thing that deliver nothing more than a money pit.  So I was indeed skeptical when Dr. David S. Schrump introduced his National Cancer Institute Intramural cancer treatment program, at our April 2018 LUNGevity Summit, with the words “no cost to patients, including travel and lodging.” Why didn’t I know about this resource?  I’ve encountered

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Acme Elixir - The Miracle Cure

Remember the western movie scene — the debonair dressed pitchman rides into a small frontier town in a wagon whose canvas sides are emblazoned with Dr. Arturo Pedic’s Acme Elixir.  He sets up a stage, draws a crowd, and delivers the pitch. Yessireeebob! My specially formulated Acme Elixir is a sure-fired medicament for any illness. One bottle of this miracle wonder is guaranteed to cure any malady.  It is an antidote for ablepsy, ague, apoplexy, barrel fever, biliousness, dropsy, camp fever

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Trekking The Green With Seventeen

Today I celebrate 17 years surviving lung cancer. COVID is a nightmare. But, I am celebrating nevertheless. Life after lung cancer is precious and most worthy of celebration. You might note I’ve run out of toes to paint. I do this to honor Phillip Berman, MD, a radiologist with Stage IV lung cancer, who was instrumental in my survival. Phil resolved to paint a toenail red for each year he survived “this madness.” He painted 5 before passing; I continue the tradition using LUNGevity Blue. My
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