Monthly Archives: April 2017

Revising my position on aspirin and myeloma

aaron-bacall-i-m-going-to-prescribe-something-that-works-like-aspirin-but-costs-much-cartoonI just finished re-reading a post I wrote in 2011 in which I stated that I would never take any aspirin…never ever ever ever again!

Well, since then a lot has happened, and I have read quite a number of positive studies on aspirin and cancer, so I am taking this opportunity to revise my former position, without going overboard, of course (no stuffing my face with aspirin every single night, I mean!). Proceed with caution, as always, since aspirin does have some side effects… Anyway, here goes.

A 2014 study, titled “Regular aspirin use and risk of multiple myeloma: a prospective analysis in the health professionals follow-up study and nurses’ health study,” suggests that aspirin might be beneficial to myeloma patients. To see the study, click on this link: goo.gl/P0su2f

Interesting excerpt: “Participants with a cumulative average of ?5 adult strength (325 mg) tablets per week had a 39% lower multiple myeloma risk than nonusers […].”

A 39% lower risk? Wowsie.

I was actually reminded of this issue earlier today, when I happened upon an intriguing Scientific American (May 2017 issue) article on aspirin and cancer, Among other things, the article discusses aspirin’s apparent interference “with the ability of cancer cells to spread, or metastasize, through the body.” It’s is an easy read and so, without further ado, here is the link: goo.gl/uAhwv2

But wow, aspirin may prevent metastasis…and it may be beneficial to myeloma patients…two articles and one stone…Not too shabby, eh?  :-)

An overcrowded bed

Stefano left last week on a business trip (he’ll be home in a couple of days, thank goodness…I miss him so much), but I have never felt alone. Alone, with SEVEN CATS? Not a chance.

Speaking of which, on the night of Easter Sunday, my cats knew that something BIG had happened. Especially Pinga.

After my niece called with the news of my mother’s death (it was 2 AM over here), I couldn’t get back to sleep. I didn’t go back to bed until 5 AM, in fact. During all that time, Pinga never left my side. When I quietly went downstairs, in the dark, so as not to wake Stefano, she followed me, got into my lap, rubbed all over me, and purred non-stop. Whenever I stood up, she made it crystal clear that she didn’t want to be separated from me. So I had to carry her with me, even just into the kitchen to get a glass of water.

A few days later, Stefano had to leave. The cats always hate that. I can’t blame them. I do, too!

Since then, they have been really clinging to me…more than they usually do… 😉

In the last couple of days, though, they have started taking over our bed. Now, we usually have three or four cats on the bed or rather, spread out on different parts of the bed. Unless it’s very cold outside (not the case right now), they don’t really cuddle with one another… _1190667

But look at this photo. It’s weird. I mean, they don’t normally arrange themselves in a row. By the way, from left to right, we have Piccolo, Priscilla, Prezzemolo, Pavarotta (ex-Pammy: we renamed her because she sings and chirps…a lot!).

I’m not sure what this behavior means, or if it means anything. Perhaps this is their way of keeping close to me…close to Stefano…and also close to one another. Perhaps this is their way of telling me that everything is going to be okay.

It’s very comforting…whatever it is.

But…hmm…WHERE am I going to sleep tonight? That is the question…

“Long-term stabilisation of myeloma with curcumin.”

This is the title of a case report concerning a blog reader with whom I’ve been corresponding for years now. Her case report has been the main object of our most recent exchanges, as you can imagine. We couldn’t wait for it to be published.

Well, this morning I received a note from her, telling me it had finally been…published! And so I sat down and wrote this post…I’m so amazingly excited for her…

Here’s the link to the FULL case report: goo.gl/YCMR0A

As you can see, it’s very easy to read…

An excerpt from the Discussion: “The fact that our patient, who had advanced stage disease and was effectively salvaged while exclusively on curcumin, suggests a potential antimyeloma effect of curcumin. She continues to take daily curcumin and remains in a very satisfactory condition with good quality of life. This case provides further evidence of the potential benefit for curcumin in myeloma. We would recommend further evaluation of curcumin in myeloma patients in the context of a clinical trial.

I couldn’t agree more!

P.S. in a recent comment, blog reader Charlotte brought the case report to my attention (thank you!). But I had just lost my mother, and, to be honest, I barely glanced at the abstract…I didn’t make the connection…until this morning, of course…

Per la mamma

IMG_6825My mother died on Easter Sunday.

She’d been in a nursing home on Cape Cod for about a year…a very difficult year, as you can imagine.

Thanks to my niece, I was able to see my mother on Skype and Facetime during her last few days.

On Saturday, in a moment of lucidity, she told Stefano and me, in Italian: “nessuno dovrebbe soffrire in questo modo. Voglio volare via,” which means, “nobody should suffer like this. I want to fly away.” I told her to let go.

Unlike previous times, our last Skype sessions were mostly silent. She didn’t have the strength to talk or even to pay much attention to whatever I was talking about. So I ended up just watching her…in silence…

On Sunday there was a change for the worse: she was having a very hard time breathing. Very difficult to watch.

But the last memory I have of my mother is of her blowing me a kiss through the phone…

Six hours later, she was gone.

No more suffering…

Ciao, mamma.

Still coughing

CoughSyrupWow, I STILL have a cough. I mean, it’s A LOT better than it was last week, but it’s still there…sporadic and annoying.

Apparently lots of people in Florence are sick with more or less the same thing, so I’m not alone. In fact, a good friend of mine called to check on me and to tell me that she’d coughed for an entire month (last month). Thanks a lot for the encouragement! 😉

This morning my family doctor put me on a second cycle of antibiotics. That should do it! But, I confess, I’m still feeling a bit on the sluggish side. However, I’m back to giving English lessons AND doing laundry, so that counts for something, right?

I’ll be fine in a couple of days. Just hand me some more cough syrup, please! 😉

No Bence Jones!!!

chicken-cartoonWow. I haven’t been this sick in…ages. On Saturday morning, I woke up with a nasty sore throat, symptom no. 1. But Stefano and I had already made plans to go outside of Florence, not a pleasure trip by any means ( = long story that wouldn’t add anything useful to this post), and I didn’t want to back out. So, after coffee and Manuka honey, off we went. By the late afternoon, the sore throat had vanished, but symptom no. 2 was about to rear its ugly head: THE DREADED COUGH. Whenever I’m about to get a cough, I get a strange, almost metallic taste in my mouth. I know it sounds odd, but that taste always precedes THE COUGH. As soon as we got back to Florence, therefore, I took an antibiotic. Good thing I did… Sunday, same thing. We couldn’t leave a job half done, so, instead of being able to sleep it off (which might have made this “thing” a bit less virulent), I was up and about the entire day. By the afternoon, THE COUGH had set in…and, yes, it was bad. To make a long story mercifully short, I haven’t really been out of bed since Monday. And, as though the debilitating cough weren’t enough, a fever set in, too. Today, thus far, is my first day without fever, and my cough is 90% gone. And so I’m up and about,…officially convalescent… :-) But the point of this post is not about my stupid spring “flu.” It’s about my test results. Yes, I had tests done last week…luckily, days before I got sick. Compared to my July 2016 tests, these April tests are so much better:

  • No Bence Jones. Back in July, a small amount of Bence Jones appeared in my urine. Its disappearance is excellent news.
  • ESR: the lowest it’s been since 2012.
  • Creatinine, calcium, CRP, etc.: all good.
  • Total IgG is down several mg compared to July. Indeed, compared to July of 2015, it is down a full 1000 mg.
  • My IgA went from a terrible 5 to a less terrible 6. You know, this is the FIRST time ever that I’ve experienced an increase in one of the other two immunoglobulins. A small increase, for sure, but for me it’s very exciting, even though 6 is nowhere near 70, which marks the beginning of the normal range, of course…
  • My m-spike and monoclonal component have both gone down. Yay!
  • My Freelite chain numbers: much much better.

My hemoglobin, however, has dipped under the normal range again. Just slightly, so it should be an easy fix. Nothing else sticks out to me…I mean, apart from the fact that I STILL have smoldering myeloma! Duh!  😉  But…I’m stable. Ah, before I go back to bed to watch another documentary, I have one more thing to tell you. A note on one of my test result sheets reads…in Italian, of course: “Paziente già conosciuto. Il tracciato elettroforetico non presenta variazioni significative rispetto ai precedenti,” which means: “The patient is well-known. The electrophoresis graph shows no significant changes compared to previous ones.” No significant changes…I definitely like the sound of that!!!