Monthly Archives: June 2015

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! 😉