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About this blog

A blog by lung cancer survivor Tom Galli

Entries in this blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advocating For Profit

I am a capitalist!  I firmly believe profit is a reward for good performance and indeed it is an expected reward.  Nothing is more important in business than making a profit.  Nothing!  My purpose for writing this is to acquaint you with a new type of business on the lung cancer scene — a for profit advocacy company.  That’s right, companies have been formed to advocate for and sustain those in lung cancer treatment and expect to earn a profit -- off us!  Let that sink in for a moment. Why

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

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

Faith, Hope and Life

In the days before computers, college registration involved waiting in long lines.  Freshmen were last to register and my hope was an elective in social science, fine arts or music.  But when I reached the registration table, I was assigned the only open class, Theology 101—The History of Religion.  I was less than excited.  And, worse yet, it was a Monday-Wednesday-Friday 8:00 a.m. class. The professor was a Marianist brother, with PhDs in Ancient Languages and Cultural Anthropology, and f

Tom Galli

Tom Galli

Fearing Lung Cancer

The lights dim, the announcer’s introduction complete, now all the stand-up comedian needs to do is be funny. We’ve all seen one bomb.  Even the best have a bad night.  Overcoming fear must be a prerequisite for a comedian. Comedian and author Jerry Gillies developed an excellent approach for handling fear: “Confront your fears, list them, get to know them, and only then will you be able to put them aside and move ahead.” This is very relevant advice for a lung cancer survivor.  I practiced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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