Watch and wait. A new blood cancer website

keep-calm-and-wait-and-watchI have a VERY important and exciting announcement to make today:

We finally have a NEW website dealing with the issue of watching and waiting for blood cancers. It discusses issues that are very near and dear to us, particularly “cancer-protective nutrition” and “supplements with CLINICAL evidence.” YAY!

“Watch and wait” doesn’t mean we have to sit back, do nothing, and just wait for the inevitable to happen. No way. There is a lot we can do, as I think I have shown in all these years…The worst thing is to feel helpless, but–as we can read on the homepage of this website–there is absolutely no need for that…

Here is the link: goo.gl/2y6FVn

If you go to “About Us,” you will find that one of the four founders of this great project is Dr. Terry Golombick (j’adore!!!). Incidentally, I owe a big-time apology to her, since I should have written this post a couple of months ago, more or less. But a lot has been going on in my life, and it’s only now that I feel that I can return to blogging on a more regular basis. Still, I apologize, Dr. Golombick!!!

Last but not least, I’d like to thank Dr. Golombick for having included my blog in the section devoted to curcumin.

Such an honor!!! :-)

Watch and wait…wait and watch…but be proactive…always! And, er, be calm, too,,, 😉

Normandy, August 2016

_1140683Continuing with my August holiday posts, I decided not to go for the standard format, that is, “on August 10 we did this, on August 11 we did that, blablabla,” which would turn out to be super boring, but rather jot _1140750down my thoughts about some of the places we visited…a bit similar to random diary entries.

So here goes…

_1140684When our friends arrived from Italy a few days later, we left Paris, and our Normandy adventure began.

The town of Giverny was our first stop. Giverny is famous for one of its inhabitants, Claude Monet, one of my favorite painters ever!!!, who lived and worked there from 1883 until his death in 1926. His house and gardens are absolutely fabulous. Lovely archways with climbing plants, beautiful flowers and plants everywhere, and of course the famous water lily pond…my photos don’t do it justice…

I should add that Monet’s house is also lovely…as are bthe paintings in Monet’s study. But the gardens and the ponds…mmmh, so pretty…well worth the visit…_1140822

The town of Vernon: stop there mainly to take a photo of the 16-century flour mill still hanging over the Seine river (photo no. 4, on the right). It was built on top of the first two piers of an ancient bridge. Before you leave, don’t forget to take some photos of the Medieval town center of Vernon, too.

The stop we made at the 12th century Moulin d’Andé, see goo.gl/2Z287d, (photo on the left, below…and yes, the two mills look very similar, don’t they?) turned out to be one of the highlights of our entire trip. We arrived at this ancient mill in mid afternoon one day and happened to be very thirsty. So, in my rusty but, I hope!, cute French, I asked the ladies in the mill’s office if we could possibly have something to drink. _1140842They very kindly told me that normally only their paying guests are allowed access to the tea room but that they would make an exception for us (we left some money in one of the boxes before leaving).

It turned out, as you can see from the above link, that this is quite a lively cultural center. As luck had it, we had its quaint little tea room all to ourselves, and one of our friends, who is a jazz musician, was able to play the piano for us. Absolutely delightful. We also visited the mill…inside and outside. I would love to stay there someday, as a paying guest I mean…It was so peaceful…I could easily see myself lying on a lawn chair by the river, reading a book, as some guests were in fact doing…

If you ever plan on stopping at the town of Les Andelys, which was next on our itinerary, let me know. I can recommend an excellent bed & breakfast. The ruins of its castle, the Chateau Gaillard, are definitely worth checking out…plus, it offers a great view from above of the Seine River and valley._1150025

Lyons-la-Foret (photo on the right). A very pretty little town, worth a quick stop (my photo depicts its main square, dominated by the 18-century timber-framed covered market place)…Have a wander around…the town isn’t very big, and offers plenty of pretty photo opportunities.

The city of Rouen–the capital of the region of Normandy. Ahhhh. I fell in love with Rouen immediately, in spite of what happened to me the night we arrived (keep on reading! 😉 ). Rouen has a lovely cathedral (the Notre Dame cathedral, see photo on the left), and _1150071interesting ties both to Joan of Arc and Claude Monet, but no, I’m going to skip the history “lesson,” since you can easily find all that information online. 😉

My photo on the right, below, which I took the day we arrived in Rouen, shows the city’s 14th-century astronomical clock, the Gros Horologe. Lovely. But here we get to the point: I don’t have any truly amazing memories of Rouen, unfortunately, because that is where I became quite sick with my “familiar” 24-hour virus, a virus that I’ve already described here on the blog. This lovely virus normally goes into “attack mode” when/if I get overly tired and/or stressed out. It hadn’t hit me in a long time, though, so I wasn’t expecting it…_1150083

But, in retrospect, I should have been more careful. After all, we had been walking on average about ten kilometers per day. And it was also unusually hot this summer both in Paris and in Normandy. This is an important detail because I don’t do well at all in the heat…never have, never will…absolutely hate it. I’m a cold temperature person… :-)

So yes, yes, yes, I should have rested a bit more instead of being on the go all the time. Easy to say now, after the fact. But, after all, I only missed one day. I mean, I was fine by the time we left Rouen, but that obviously means that I missed most of our planned tour of the city, which was a huge bummer. Of course, Stefano and our friends told me all about what they had seen and where they had gone, and I saw some of Stefano’s photos, and besides–once I felt a bit better–Stefano kept me well supplied with crunchy, buttery, delicious croissants. So, hey, it wasn’t all bad. 😉 Anyway, so much for Rouen…_1150204

Oh, I wanted to note that I’ll be skipping a few of our less interesting stops, such as a couple of abbeys we had a look at as we wound our way up from Rouen to the coast of Normandy. _1150191

We spent one night in Etretat, a small town right on the coast. It is best known for its “falaises,” that is, its famous white chalk cliffs and its three natural arches, which are quite a sight, including the one on the left, above, which Guy de Maupassant described as an elephant’s trunk, if I am not mistaken. We walked all around the falaises and took heaps of photos. Very pretty. Very crowded, though…

_1150275We also spent two nights near Dieppe, a bustling port up the coast from Etretat. I love my photo on the left of an illuminated sign on a building, “Tout Va Bien” (meaning: “Everything’s fine”). It’s actually the name of a restaurant located right on the port. We didn’t eat there, though… But, speaking of restaurants, we had a couple of our best meals in Dieppe…fish-based, of course. Dieppe’s most famous dish is called the “marmite dieppoise,” basically a fish stew. Not my cup of tea, to be honest, but I had other types of fish, which were excellent.

From Dieppe we went on to Le Havre just to visit the museum of modern art (André Malraux)…worth a stop, for sure. The rest of the city, well, can be skipped…just my opinion!

Okay, I think I’ll stop for today. I still have a lot of photos to go through, and it’s hard to pick the ones to publish on the blog, I must say. I have one more post to write, methinks, then I’m done with the holiday and can get on to other, more serious matters. :-)

Antidepressants seem to weaken bones

I just read this bit of news: it looks as though antidepressants have a negative impact on bones.

A Columbia University study found that people who took Prozac for at least a year were at a higher risk of bone fractures and depletion. So if you are taking “some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI),” especially any containing fluoxetine, you should definitely have a look at this “New Scientist” article: goo.gl/gYr8hs

Note that not all SSRIs have a similar effect on bones…

Holiday romance

_1140887It was late in the evening, a few days before the end of our French holiday, and we were in our hotel room in Saint-Malo. Stefano turned to me and said:

You know, I wouldn’t have traveled so much and seen so many wonderful things and places if I hadn’t met you.”

:-) 

Paris, the first stop on our August holiday…

_1140594Stefano and I hadn’t made any concrete plans to go on holiday this summer, a holiday that Stefano REALLY needed, actually, much more than I did. So when a couple of our closest friends asked us if we might be interested in joining them on a tour of (mainly) Normandy plus a small area of Brittany, we said “yes!” without any hesitation. Traveling with friends and sharing costs = an ideal situation. So off we went, from the second week in August until just a few days ago.

Stefano and I left for France a couple of days before our friends did, in order to visit Paris where we hadn’t been in more than a decade.

Ahhhhh, Paris. Splendid, beautiful as always.

But we did notice some changes. _1140376
There were police vans and heavily armed policemen a bit everywhere–at the Louvre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, in front of most of the bridges, etc. It was a constant reminder of the horrifying terrorist attacks (November 2015, etc.).

Speaking of which…our first night in Paris we chose to eat in a restaurant on the Seine river bank…We were inside the restaurant, but practically on the sidewalk via an open set of French doors.

Just as we were about to dig into our main course, we heard a loud noise of screeching tires.
_1140469We looked up and saw a police car come to a halt just a few meters from our table. No, I’m not kidding.

Two policemen carrying assault rifles jumped out and raced over to a car that was stopped in front of them…again, very close to our table. We could see them clearly, speaking with the driver. A third policeman also got out of the car at one point in order to inspect the trunk.

Anyway, nothing happened…but this was another reminder of what the city has been through.

The next couple of posts will be devoted to our adventures in Normandy and Brittany…But now it’s late, and I have to go feed the kitties! Ciao! :-)

 

Updates!

_1120585Where do I begin? So much has happened since I last wrote a post…wow, it’s been more than a month (ah, how time flies!)!!!

Back then, I thought I’d have more time to keep blogging on a more regular basis, but life and work got in the way, as often happens.

Well, let’s just jump right in. Today happens to be my birthday. :-) How old are you?, you might ask…I’m 55 years old. I never hide my age. Never have, never will. On the contrary, I’m very happy to be celebrating another birthday, and I imagine you can guess WHY! :-)

_1130765And since a birthday is a celebration, let me also mention that in January 2016 I celebrated my 10th year of taking curcumin. A big milestone for me. I have also almost reached my 11th year of being a smoldering gal…So yes, celebrations are most definitely in order.

Let’s jump now from celebrations to blood tests. Come to think of it, there’s a connection there, too…

My usual set of blood tests, which I had in early July, show that I’m no longer anemic. Cause for celebration, wouldn’t you say? YAY!!! In short, my hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red cells are all back inside the normal range.  _1120110

My total IgG is about the same as it was last time, but my monoclonal component has gone down a bit, as has my m-spike, So that is all good news…

Bence Jones: in 2014 a small amount of this protein was detected in my urine (you know, that’s the 24-hour urine test that we all love to take…not!!!). But then it disappeared. And now that small amount is back. However, there are two things to be said here. _1140177One is that the nurse who drew my blood told me that the hospital lab has found a cheaper way to test Bence Jones (and cheaper is not necessarily better!), and the other is that I read online that small amounts of this pesky protein can pop up in the urine sometimes, then disappear. So I expect it to be gone next time I have tests done. Just like it disappeared two years ago. No biggie, in sum.

Okay, enough about tests and whatnot. Bottom line: I am still stable and doing well. No CRABs!!! 😀

Now I should explain why I have all these sea bird photos. A little more than a week ago, Stefano and I were invited to spend three days in England. A business-pleasure trip to Northumberland.  _1130241We flew, low-cost, from Pisa (Italy) to the Leeds Bradford airport (Yorkshire), where a close friend of ours picked us up and drove us to Northumberland. It was such a wonderful trip. We spent almost an entire day on the Farne Islands, which is a summer breeding ground for all sorts of sea birds, including puffins, arctic terns, European shags, razorbills, and guillemots. The weather wasn’t that good, unfortunately, but we managed to get some excellent photos anyway, as you can see. And these are MY photos…you can imagine what amazing photos Stefano and our friend took, with their fancy big lens cameras.

We love puffins, in fact, we ADORE puffins, but this time we also had a lot of fun with the arctic terns (we tried our best not to bother these agitated, high-spirited sea birds too much, but it wasn’t easy…). _1140007Since they build their nests near and along the paths leading us humans around the island (Inner Farne, in particular), there is really no way of avoiding them. As you walk along these paths, here and there some furious tern parents will suddenly soar into the air much like noisy little helicopters, doing their best to scare you away: they will peck you on the head (see the close-up photo that I took of a guy wearing a white cap) or, worse!, wiil poop on your head and/or shoulders. Visitors to the Farnes are advised to wear hats and jackets. I’m so glad I had a hat and jacket, in fact, since I got pecked quite hard on the head (once) and, yes, also pooped on. As did Stefano. :-)

Anyway, lots of things going on…But I’ve run out of time. It’s getting late now, and I must get back to my birthday…and to feeding the cats, always a priority in this house.

Hope everyone is doing well! Ciao! :-)

It’s official: I’m old

IMG_5315On Friday my elementary-level students and I did a quick English grammar review. We asked and answered questions such as “where are you from?” “what’s your name?” “do you like chocolate?” “is he Japanese?” “where were you born?” and so on. Typical review questions.

But the answer to this particular one, coupled with the initially baffled look on my student’s face, almost made me die laughing:

I asked: “How old is Margaret?”

My student replied: “She’s old.”

:-)

“Educate your immune system”

I just finished reading a fascinating New York Times article on the immune system and thought I’d post the link. Remember my April 5 post, “The gut factor,” on the connection between gut bacteria and cancer? Well, this article provides more food for thought in that same area: http://goo.gl/cVDygk

Note: toward the end of the article, there is a reference to the Epstein-Barr virus and the risk of developing multiple sclerosis. No, no mention of multiple myeloma. However, I still think it is of interest to those of us who have had EBV in the past and would like to know about any possible repercussions…

Links, links, links…

P.S. By the way, since I have received a couple of condolence notes, I thought I should mention that my mother is not only alive but is actually doing a bit better these days. She has begun eating a bit more, gaining a bit of weight, and seems more interested in interacting with others. When Stefano and I left the U.S.A. to return to our home in Florence just a few weeks ago, her situation seemed hopeless. I didn’t think she had long to live, to be honest.

But now…who knows?