Ocean Springs employee battles brain cancer

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Not long ago, Tony Gagliano was enjoying his new job as an Ocean Springs building inspector.  But something just wasn't right.

"I was having, I guess, little spells of memory lapses and things like that," Gagliano said.  "Doing things out of the normal for myself, and it started affecting my job."

"It just got to a point where somebody was going to get hurt if he didn't seek medical attention including himself," said Ocean Springs Building Official Terry Agar.  "I was really concerned for him."

He never guessed he had brain cancer.  Now his desk is empty, and his life is completely different.

"My legs and my arms have deteriorated, I've lost 32 pounds," said Gagliano.  He is undergoing radiation therapy and chemotherapy.  He's expected to receive treatment for over six more months.

Paying for the treatment is making this ordeal especially hard.

"I'm on unpaid leave and I have no health insurance," Gagliano said.  "It was supposed to kick in March 1, but I wasn't there to pay into it for it to kick in. So you know, its kind of a cruel paradox."

"Tony is not getting any income at this point in time," said friend Brenda Montgomery.  "They are having a really tough time paying their own every day bills. Not to mention the humongous medical bills."

There's a benefit Saturday night at Mary C O'Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs.  All proceeds are going to Gagliano, and some of the funds raised will be matched by the Lutheran Church.  The benefit starts at 7:30pm, and features live local performers, including WLOX's Karen Abernathy.  A silent auction will start earlier in the afternoon.

"Tony is the kind of guy who would do anything for anybody," said Montgomery.  "And he has kind of gone out of his way to help other people. Now it's our time to help them."

Gagliano said he's truly touched by the outpouring of support from the city and the community.

"It's been incredible the kind of support we've been getting," he said.  "I don't even know how to describe it. It's been way beyond what I would ever expect."

Agar said Gagliano will still have a job with the city when he's ready to come back to work.

"He was perfect for code enforcement, and I really miss him," he said.

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