Rockwall Resident Celebrates 15 Years of Life After Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Tom and Martha Galli
Tom and Martha Galli Breathe Deep 2018.jpg – Caption: “Tom and Martha at LUNGevity’s DFW Breathe Deep event in November 2018.” Photo by LUNGevity Foundation

(ROCKWALL, TX – Feb. 3, 2019) On February 4, 2004, Rockwall Texas resident Tom Galli received a surprising diagnosis of lung cancer. He experienced no symptoms. A single tumor completely filled the main stem bronchus of his right lung, and Tom’s general practitioner said treatment success was a “long odds” proposition. Things didn’t look good.

Tom underwent chemotherapy, radiation, multiple surgeries, and more chemotherapy and radiation. There was no guarantee that any of the treatments would be successful.

There was only hope.

Tom saw a television interview with Dr. Phillip Berman, a radiologist who had received a surprise lung cancer diagnosis in January 2004. Berman resolved to paint one of his toenails red to celebrate each year of surviving. His goal was to paint all ten, then enlist his wife to continue the count. His attitude was to enjoy life despite treatment side effects.

Blue toenails
Tom and Martha Galli’s toenails celebrate 15 years of surviving late-stage diagnosed lung cancer.” Photo by T. Galli; Toenails by Cate’s Touch.

Tom took up the challenge against lung cancer, the nation’s number one cancer killer. This year Tom and his wife, Martha, are celebrating 15 years of survival by painting 15 of their toenails in “LUNGevity blue” to acknowledge LUNGevity Foundation’s dedication to funding lung cancer research.

Hope is an expectation of a good outcome. For those with lung cancer and facing long odds, many hope against hope.

“We rejoice at the possibility of successful treatment despite monumental probability of failure,” Tom Galli said. “Partly because of organizations like LUNGevity, there are more treatment options for lung cancer today than ever before. Still, more than 422 Americans die of lung cancer every single day. Because lung cancer almost always presents without symptoms, a late-stage diagnosis will kill more than 66 percent of those diagnosed. I am raising awareness about my 15-year survivorship of this disease to highlight the importance of research for lung cancer in the hope that one day no one will die of this disease.”

More information about Tom’s fundraiser:


By Tom Galli for publication in Blue Ribbon News. 

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