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About this blog

A blog by lung cancer survivor Tom Galli

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The Smoking Gun

We often hear smoking gun used to describe the “ah ha” moment of a who done it.  I was unsure of the meaning and asked Siri.  My Apple genius defined it as “as piece of incontrovertible incriminating evidence.”  I know two things with high confidence: (i) there is a very strong correlation between smoking and lung cancer, and (ii) implying smoking as a cause adds to the self-induced stigma that smacks down research for my disease. So, how do we address the stigma without pointing the smokin

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

 

Christmas Reflections

I've seen the star of Bethlehem, very early on Christmas morning.  While peacekeeping in Egypt's Sinai Desert, I would run before daybreak as soldiers are prone to do. Although the desert is quite cold in December, dawn running was a habit hard to break.  I ran the camp perimeter to check the defensive positions and greet soldiers enjoying the banter in three different languages.  Starting in the south perimeter and running counterclockwise, the predawn western sky was dark except for the stars

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

Thanksgiving

Today, in the United States, we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving.  Our first president, George Washington, called for an official “day of public thanksgiving and prayer” in 1789 and although the Congress heartily agreed, the proclamation was lost in the bureaucratic press of politics.  It fell to Abraham Lincoln to rekindle the Thanksgiving Holiday shortly after the pivotal battle of our Civil War—Gettysburg in 1863.  Thus in the mist of warfare and uncertainty, a holiday dedicated to thank

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

 

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

 

Royalties Donated to LUNGevity

I will donate all Scanziety Amazon Kindle Store sale royalties for the Month of November to LUNGevity.org to support much needed research. I wrote for the book for three reasons. First among them is “to raise a call to arms for funding lung cancer research.” Help me raise the call to arms! Read a book about surviving lung cancer and donate to sponsor research to find, fix and finish lung cancer. Stay the course. Get your copy of Scanziety here https://www.amazon.com/Scanziety-Retrospec

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

 

The Down Low on Low Dose

The other day, in conversation with a newly minted medical school graduate, he told me low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) was dangerous. Dangerous! If LDCT is dangerous, what is late discovery of lung cancer? He nearly fainted when I told him I had perhaps more than 40 CT scans in my treatment history, telling me I was a candidate for radiation induced cancer. It didn’t seem to register that I was a candidate for extinction by lung cancer. We are told the only effective way of treating our

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

 

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

 

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

 

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

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