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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

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

Comprehending the PET

Almost every lung cancer survivor has a positron emission tomography (PET) scan these days. Now, a PET is often given with a computerized axial tomography (CT) scan.  The diagnostician is a radiologist; a discipline that does not write in lingua franca. What do the report words mean? Here is a summary of my August PET-CT to interpret radiology speak. INDICATION: (Why am I getting this scan) “The patient…with non-small cell lung cancer of the right main bronchus diagnosed in 2003 status post

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Thirteen Years; Thirteen Toes!

Today we celebrate 13 years of surviving NSCLC.  I'm borrowing three toes from Martha, my wife and caregiver extraordinaire, who deserves most of the credit for my continued life.  Martha did the heavy lifting during treatment, asking the right questions at the right time, and prodding my medical team with just the right touch.  By comparison, I was at wit's end during my nearly 4 years of continuous treatment.  Doctors McK (GP), H (Oncologist) and C (Thoracic Surgeon) also deserve a lion's shar

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

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

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

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

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

Voyage of Hope

I am writing this from the pool deck of a cruise ship while on a transatlantic sojourn. Our fourth transatlantic and our favorite form of vacation, we cross then pick several countries and explore. This year, after docking at Barcelona, we fly to Ireland and tour the wild and unpopulated western coast, then spend a long weekend in Edinburgh, and fly home. The cruise and the touring after is wonderful. The flight back is a nightmare because my incision scars throb in pain in a pressurized aircraf

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

The Lung Cancer Conjecture

Start with any whole positive number. If it is even, divide it by 2; if odd, multiply by 3 and add 1. After a string of calculations applying the even-odd method, regardless of the starting number, the answer will always be 1.  Well maybe because all numbers have not yet been checked. But up to 10 raised to the fourteenth power have been. And that is a very big number! This mathematical oddity is called the Collatz Conjecture.  For example, here is the calculation string applying the even-o

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

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

Scanziety

Amazon Kindle Royalties Donated to LUNGevity.org During November:"I am not a doctor; indeed, I possess little medical knowledge.  I am, however, a very experienced and long-tenured lung cancer patient.  That gives me a unique perspective on the disease that kills more people­­—many times more—than any other type of cancer.  I do not intend to fill this story with statistics.  They are readily available from any number of reputable resources.  I have a firm belief, however, that lung cancer resea

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

Having and Eating Cake

I like thinking about choice.  It is an interesting concept and can involve logical, rational thinking and irrational and illogical thought — sometimes concurrently.  Choice is not just a human phenomena.  Animals make choices, some deliberate and some random. But when all is said and done, a choice is a decision that has an outcome (or consequence).  When we make rational choices, we are said to be informed of the consequences. Irrational choices are those where consequences don’t matter.

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Know The Enemy -- The Cure Scam Artist

The modern world is full of scams, lies, untruths, and junk science.  Indeed, for a lung cancer survivor or caregiver, finding truth about lung cancer in our Internet world of mis-information is extremely difficult.  How do we know what to believe?  Perhaps you've heard of Belle Gibson, the health food purveyor and wellness guru, who spent years convincing us she had a cure for cancer.  Don't know the story?  Read it here.  How did we buy into Gibson's claims?  How do we avoid another scam trap?

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

Predicting Doom

I am not a statistics wizard; an engineer, I value the predictive power of statistics.  Indeed, if one can precisely control variables, a statistics-based prediction of the future is remarkably accurate.  The joy of predicting end strength for a new carbon-nanotube concrete mix design melts the heart of this engineer.  But, concrete is a thing with but 4 variables to control.  Human beings have perhaps millions of variables, thus predictions about people are vastly more complicated and inaccurat

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

Ninety Percent Mental

Summer has ended and baseball is in World Series mode.  I’m a long suffering Philadelphia Phillies fan — a Phanatic!  To have a lifelong fascination with a mediocre baseball club requires supreme dedication, unusual perseverance, and a strong conviction that tomorrow will be a far better day.  These attributes are prerequisites for facing a daunting lung cancer diagnosis and enduring the arduousness of treatment. Danny Ozark, once manager of the Phillies, took the team from perennial cellar

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Survivor's Thanksgiving

Today, on our Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful that all in this photo, taken in November 2015, still survive. Stay the course.

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

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

A Picture is Worth 15 Years

I'm the guy who paints a toenail for every year I live beyond my February 4, 2004 diagnosis day.  This year our toes are LUNGevity Blue to honor the foundation that is dedicated to changing outcomes for people with lung cancer through research, education and support. There are many people who've been instrumental in my survival and making a life after; none are more important than my loving wife -- Martha Galli. If I can live, so can you! Stay the course. Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

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