Why???

I have been absolutely shocked and outraged for days over the killing of Cecil the lion by a dentist, a so-called “trophy” hunter from Minnesota, a man who already has a felony record in connection with the illegal killing of a black bear in Wisconsin back in 2006…

I don’t think I need to go into any details, since in the past few days this dentist-lion story has been all over the news (even here in Italy) and social media…

But I do feel the need to write a post about it. My outrage needs an outlet, and my blog is a clear choice for that, even though this story has nothing to do with myeloma. So here goes.

Something clearly needs to be done. Lions may well be EXTINCT by the year 2050…and that isn’t too far from now. Indeed, scientists predict that many of the species that are currently targets of these so-called “trophy” hunters will be extinct three generations from now.

Extinct. In just three generations. WHY???

I’m not asking for Walter Palmer’s head on a platter as others have done on social media. Or for the head of any other “trophy” hunter, for that matter. Reacting with violence puts us on the same level as these sick folks.

However, the nincompoop Minnesotan dentist needs to be punished in some way AND, most importantly, he must be stopped from killing animals, any animals!, in the future. cecil-lion-zimbabwePerhaps, like Cecil, he could be fitted with a GPS collar or ankle bracelet to ensure he never harms an animal again. Anyone who enjoys tracking a wounded lion for 40 hours, shooting it, then beheading and skinning it, while attempting to destroy its GPS collar so as not to get caught (and then, when he gets caught, says he is “sorry”??? Hello??? That does not correspond to the definition of “sorry” in my book!), is someone who should be kept as far away as possible from any sort of weapon.

And perhaps someday, with some form of rehabilitation (a few suggestions: working, under strict supervision, in a national park; joining anti-poaching teams all over the world, at his own expense, of course; donating huge sums of money to the Oxford University project that was studying Cecil, and so on…), this dentist might be brought to realize all the harm he has done in his life thus far. He might even reach out to pick up a camera instead of a crossbow. That wouldn’t bring back Cecil or the countless other animals that have been victims of all the unbelievably stupid “trophy” hunters, but…but it’s a start.

And things in fact seem to be moving in that direction now, so I can only hope that Cecil’s death will mark the beginning of the end of senseless, cruel, and ILLEGAL “trophy” hunting.

Shoot photos, not bullets!!!!!! No more illegal poaching!!!!!

And now for a couple of links…

Jimmy Kimmel’s perfect thoughts on this story: https://goo.gl/HSW4vC (For the record, I agree with everything he says, except for the bit about hunting. Hunting “because it’s part of your culture or something” is also abhorrent, IMO…see the yearly cruel pilot whale slaughter in the Faroe Islands, e.g.).

There are many petitions you can sign online. Here is one of them: https://goo.gl/KWqqM8

The Oxford University project’s website: www.wildcru.org  In case you have any extra money lying around…

54!

IMG_5126Wellwellwell, I turned 54 on Saturday, July 18th. :-)

We didn’t really celebrate my birthday this year because Stefano has been recovering from viral gastroenteritis. So he and I spent most of the day in bed, trying to keep cool under the ceiling fan, watching TV series and eating delicious sweets…mmmmh!!! It was nice and restful…just the two of us, surrounded by our furry family of seven (here are two of them–Pinga and Priscilla. Pinga sleeps under a cover, even in summer, so this photo was not staged, in case you’re wondering 😉 )…

It was actually the smartest thing we could have done: this has been the hottest July on record in Italy in more than a decade. Even Italian cows, I read in the below article, now have air conditioning and/or are getting showers to survive this horrendous heatwave: http://goo.gl/W6HrCJ. Mamma mia!

IMG_5082Anyway…Fifty-four…definitely an important milestone for me. When I was diagnosed with SMM in 2005, I thought I’d be dead within a few years, based on statistics AND on what a few hematologists told me…

But almost ten years have gone by since then (sixteen years, in fact, if you include the six years of my 1999 MGUS diagnosis…), and here I am, still very much alive and kicking…AND celebrating another birthday!!! Yaaay! 😀

45 years…

Did you read about that doctor in Michigan who made millions (from insurance companies) by administering chemotherapy drugs to HEALTHY people? If not, then have a look at this article: http://goo.gl/y2ycx4

Makes me sick.

And yes, he told some of his healthy patients that they had multiple myeloma.

He just got sentenced to 45 years in jail…Do you think that’s enough, after what he did to more than 500 healthy people?

Well, I guess there’s a good lesson to be learned here: always ask for a second opinion…at the very least…

Spello

IMG_4841Boy, time does fly, doesn’t it? I mean, I haven’t posted anything on the blog in about three weeks…how did THAT happen??? Well, it’s just that life here has gotten quite busy…translations to do, but also quite a bit of fun stuff, such as Stefano’s birthday, gatherings with friends, day trips, etc. :-)

Before going on, I have a couple of quick medical updates:

  1. My doctor confirmed last week that I have no bone lesions. So I had indeed read my MRI report correctly. :-) Sure, I do have a few hernias here and there, but nothing to worry about….old stuff that is still there, basically.
  2. Last week I also had a test that in Italian is called “ecocolordoppler dei tronchi sovraortici,” which I found translated as “Doppler of the supra-aortic vessels.” It basically means that I got an ultrasound of the carotid arteries in my neck. IMG_4848My family doctor wanted me to have this test because of my high-ish cholesterol, which, for the record, HAS gone down a lot since I’ve been taking curcumin but is still above the normal range. Anyway, I think he’ll be pleased to learn that everything is fine…the carotids are clear!

Now, I should note that today’s post has nothing to do with…spelling. It has to do instead with an Italian town called Spello. Last week I accompanied Stefano on a sort of business trip that landed us near this ancient walled town located in the Italian region of Umbria, a two-hour drive from Florence. Since we hadn’t been to Spello yet, we decided to stop there for lunch. I’m so glad we did!!!

IMG_4853Spello, surrounded by well-preserved medieval walls built on Roman foundations, is listed among Italy’s “most beautiful villages”…and for a very good reason: it’s absolutely lovely…a real gem…and, BONUS!!!, off the well-beaten tourist path, which meant that most of the time we found ourselves wandering alone among its rose-colored stone houses…and up and down its stone alleys. Stunning. Absolutely stunning. My photos don’t do it justice…

In addition to the beauty of Spello, another thing that really struck us was the friendliness of its inhabitants…and how openly proud they are of their town…Stefano and I got stopped many times by the locals and told where to go for the best photos and so on (“Have you seen this? Have you been there?,” we were asked on more than one occasion). One guy sitting on a doorstep started telling us the story of his life…boy, what a character he was! Anyway, these chance encounters made our visit even more enjoyable…IMG_4855

Another characteristic of Spello: there were beautiful blooming flowers, plants of all sorts, and flower pots everywhere. Every year, in early July, the best plant and flower arrangements receive an official award from the town. All first, second and third place winners have a handmade ceramic tile stuck to the wall of their home (this, on the right, is a photo of the second-prize winner in 2014). These award tiles really show how proud the people of Spello are of their town…IMG_4931

Speaking of flowers, Spello is well-known for its annual “infiorata” (that is, flower festival), which takes place in late May/early June, precisely on the ninth Sunday after Easter. The night before the “infiorata,” hundreds of people work like maniacs, covering the squares and alleys of their town with intricate and spectacular flower arrangements…flower paintings, really. The artists have to abide by strict rules…for example, they can’t use wood or synthetic materials.

But…we just missed it…Oh well. Can’t have everything. 😉

After visiting Spello, I got to thinking that there are so many beautiful places that we still haven’t visited and that aren’t far from Florence…

We need to take more of these day trips! :-)

How mood/depression can affect cancer patients and their partners

A hot-off-the-press study (see this super-easy-to-read summary given by Cancer Compasshttp://goo.gl/HNtZk9) suggests that the mental health of cancer patients is strongly affected by that of their spouses/partners/caregivers….as follows: if your partner is depressed, you are more likely to get depressed, too; if your partner is in good mental shape, so are you. Actually, I wasn’t surprised at all by this finding…It makes sense.

But here’s something that did surprise me: “the mood of the cancer survivors did not have a significant influence on their spouses’ risk for depression.” Ah, so it’s not reciprocal…

Food for thought.

This article made me think about how cancer has affected my relationship with Stefano. It’s impossible to know how different things would/might have been, since myeloma (first MGUS, then SMM) has been in our lives almost from the beginning…          _1050543

Of course I can’t ignore the fact that I’ve been incredibly lucky…thus far, anyway (knock on wood!!!)–no CRAB symptoms, no conventional treatments…a very high QOL ( the acronym stands for “quality of life”)…and now I’m in my 10th year of living with smoldering myeloma…Yes, very lucky indeed!

But…what if I hadn’t been so lucky? What if my myeloma had been more aggressive? What if I hadn’t come across the curcumin-myeloma study at MD Anderson so many years ago? What if…hmmm, well, we can’t live by “what ifs,” so I’ll leave it at that…

Oh, one last thing: any thoughts or reactions to the Cancer Compass article would be very welcome, so please leave me a comment here on the blog or send me an email. Thanks! Hey, what can I say…I’m a curious gal! 😉

New case study: a patient with laryngeal amyloidosis and smoldering myeloma is stable after five years of taking curcumin…

More evidence supporting the use of curcumin in patients with MGUS, SMM, MM and, now, amyloidosis or AL.

Yes, true, this is “just” a case report, carried out at St. George Hospital in Sydney, Australia…an anecdote, many would say. But then again, so is my story, and so are the many similar stories of everyone who’s taking curcumin…

And these anecdotes do add up, don’t they?

At any rate, you can read the entire story here, for FREE: http://goo.gl/YFCM8Y (once you are on the Case Report page, look to the right and click on “Provisional PDF.”)

The report isn’t difficult to read, so I won’t bother giving you a summary or rather, BORE you with a summary. 😉 If you don’t want to read the whole shebang, though, just scroll down to the “Discussion” part…

Oh, I almost forgot: please note HOW MUCH curcumin this guy has been taking to obtain these results…Interesting, huh?

A highly recommended read…indeed!

More gray matter in the frontal cortex…

Thanks to my blog reader and Facebook friend Cathy for the link to an intriguing Washington Post interview with a Harvard Medical School neuroscientist on the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Now, we all know that meditation reduces stress and anxiety, but that isn’t all it does…Check out this link: http://goo.gl/KQCt3r

Now, if you’ve never meditated before and don’t know where to begin, you can go to this UCLA website and follow their FREE guided meditation sessions: http://goo.gl/nSJgwK Just close your eyes and listen, it’s as simple as that. The sessions won’t take up much of your time…one of them is just three minutes long, for example. I’ve found them very helpful…for starters, anyway.

Okay, off I go. I want to add some gray matter to my frontal cortex… 😉

“The many benefits of turmeric”…

The title of today’s post is part of the title of a Huffington Post article published four days ago, an article discussing the many disease-fighting benefits of turmeric and of its extract, curcumin, which many of us know so well! The article doesn’t provide ALL the benefits of curcumin/turmeric (that would be near to impossible!), but it mentions quite a few.

Here’s the link: http://goo.gl/kEvVC8

Enjoy! :-)

No lesions!!!

_1020387I had an MRI of my entire spinal column done earlier this week, and the results are in. Now, the doctor will have to confirm this next month, BUT I am almost 100% sure that I don’t have any bone lesions or anything else that has to do with myeloma.

I wrote “almost 100% sure” just in case I’m wrong, since these lab results are written in what I’m sure is an alien language…But I’ve looked up all the terms I didn’t know, and it all translates to a few small hernias (which haven’t bothered me thus far) and mostly insignificant stuff.

By the way, I had this MRI mainly because I hadn’t had one since 2009, not because of any back pain or whatnot…Just a checkup, that is…

True, my posture isn’t that great, and the MRI confirms that. I spend a lot of time in front of the computer doing research, etc., so I really must do something about that. I’ve already downloaded some easy-to-do postural exercises…

But today I’m celebrating. Because the main thing is…………………………………..

NO LESIONS!

P.S. I took this photo in April 2015, just outside of the town of San Quirico d’Orcia, in southern Tuscany. Such a gorgeous region…

The impact of an iron fish on anemia

Many thanks to a longtime blog reader who posted this link on Facebook yesterday: http://goo.gl/87YqMr

The link will take you to a BBC News story about how a a graduate from the University of Guelph, Canada, forever changed the lives of rural village dwellers in Cambodia, plagued by anemia.

In the spring of 2008, Christopher Charles moved to rural Cambodia to work on a three month project dealing with anemia, a “huge public health problem” in those rural areas. He ended up staying for 5 years. And, after many failures, he came up with the brilliant “iron fish” idea described in the article.

It worked. After 12 months, almost half the villagers in Dr. Charles’ trial were no longer suffering from anemia.

Such a simple but brilliant solution…

Dr. Charles held this TED talk in 2014: https://goo.gl/uOSuyr Here he tells the full story. Mesmerizing, absolutely mesmerizing.

In short, I very highly recommend both the BBC article and the TED talk, especially for anyone dealing with, or attempting to prevent, anemia.

One of my neighbors is a blacksmith. I’m going to ask him to make an iron fish for me. Why not? Can’t hurt…