“I choose to be happy”

Many thanks to my friend Joanne for posting this five-minute TED video on Facebook:  Without her recommendation, I probably wouldn’t have watched it…I mean, I wouldn’t normally be very interested in a man talking about how he survived a plane ditching in the Hudson River (New York City)…

But it’s much more than that, as you will see if you click on the below link. And now I’m really glad I watched it: http://goo.gl/kvSf2L

I imagine lots of people before me have compared a plane accident to a cancer diagnosis. It’s an obvious comparison, methinks. And in fact, while I was listening to Ric’s story, I couldn’t help thinking about my own cancer diagnosis and how it changed my life…in a positive manner, in many ways.

When something major (cancer diagnosis, surviving a plane accident, whatever…) happens to you, the things that you thought were so important, such as your career, suddenly don’t matter so much anymore…As Ric says, “it all changes in an instant.”

And that is why I really liked this comment: “I no longer try to be right. I choose to be happy.”

It’s not possible to be happy all the time or have a perfect life, of course, but it is possible to make some changes…and rearrange your priorities.

I have.

(Or at least, I think I have!)

Meeting with Prof. Morie Gertz, Mayo Clinic…this Saturday!

I met Prof. Gertz in March 2012 at a patient-doctor meeting organized by my friend Vittorio’s charitable association, which he set up in memory of his uncle who was a myeloma patient. If this doesn’t ring a bell, just do a search of my website to find the posts I wrote about this encounter.

Well, Prof. Gertz is returning to Florence. To meet with us. This Saturday, Jan 18, in fact. So if you happen to be in the area (Tuscany!), I really hope you will consider attending.

I have the program of the meeting (where it is taking place, when it begins, info about lunch, etc…It’s all FREE, by the way), so if you are interested in attending, please let me know, via a comment or contact form or email, and I will forward it to you.

As happened last time, I will help Vittorio translate part of the meeting. I have to admit, I’m still suffering from a bit of jet lag (and cats walking over my body or hugging my head and purring madly in my ear at 2 and 4 a.m. certainly doesn’t help!!!), so I hope I won’t make any mistakes…zzzzz…!

Please note: if you want to stay for lunch, you will have to let Vittorio know ASAP. Just quickly: the meeting will take place at the same hotel where we met last time, Hotel 500 in Campi Bisenzio, just outside of Florence. It’s an all-day event, but you can leave before lunch if you must. My advice would be to stay, though…

Okay, I’d better post this…Saturday is fast approaching! Hope to see you there! 🙂

Like Tom Hanks in “The Terminal”

Remember that movie, “The Terminal”? In a nutshell, it’s about a man (Tom Hanks) who gets trapped in New York’s JFK International Airport after being denied entry to the U.S.

I don’t mean to imply that Stefano and I are trapped in an airport somewhere. Nope. On the contrary, we are safely back in Florence, at home with our beloved kitties. So, apart from a major, beastly case of jet lag (we are having so much difficulty sleepingzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…), we are absolutely fine…zzzzz.

Now that I’ve cleared that up, I can go ahead and tell you what happened just a few days ago… 😉

Late Saturday evening, as we were checking in at Logan Airport in Boston, I realized I’d forgotten my Italian “permanent resident” visa at my parents’ house on Cape Cod…

Oh no!!! Now what?!!! Without that precious document, I doubted I’d be allowed to leave Germany (the first leg of our journey). But Stefano said, “it’s too late to freak out now. There’s nothing we can do about it. Let’s get on the plane and see what happens when we land in Germany.” “But,” I squeaked, “won’t I be deported or, worse, kept forever in the airport, just like Tom Hanks?” “No, of course not,” he said, in a reassuring tone, “and don’t worry, I’m with you…”

And so, after my first “TOTAL PANIC, FREAK OUT!!!” nano-moment, I calmed down and, for the first time ever!!!, was happy that we’d have a five-hour layover in Germany…That would give me plenty of time to explain what happened and deal with any ramifications…I stopped worrying (sort of) and managed to watch three movies on the plane…

We landed safely in Germany and proceeded to the airport security checkpoint. With a winning, bright smile on my face, I chirped “Good morning!” and handed my U.S. passport to the customs official. He smiled back at me, then noticed my surname, which happens to be German (= my “maiden” surname, that is). He asked if I spoke any German. I answered, “Ah, I really wish I did…but no, I don’t.” Then, faster than you can say “Tom Hanks,” he stamped my passport and waved us on.

Ehhhh???? That’s IT??? All that worrying for…NOTHING???

It would certainly seem so…

Sigh of relief.

We celebrated my “no muss no fuss” re-entry into Europe with a yummy organic carrot and orange juice…No kidding, an organic juice place in the airport…how civilized! 🙂

I now have a 3-month tourist visa. That gives my parents plenty of time to send me my permanent Italian visa, which they found safely tucked away in a drawer…you know, those blasted “safe” places where you put important stuff so you won’t lose it (!)…those places you forget to check when you’re busy with a million other pre-travel things/errands (!)…

Yeah, those places…uff!!!

Before my next trip, I’m going to have my visa tattooed on my forehead…

Back from Arizona

I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful our stay in Arizona was…overwhelming, wonderful, happy, beautiful, exciting, moving…extraordinary…

And I have fallen head over heels in love with saguaros = huge, tree-like cacti (or cactuses) that can be seen all around Phoenix, even in people’s yards…wow…I wish we could have one in our yard in Florence! 😉

I have heaps of wonderful (I hope!) photos, but I don’t have time to download and go through them now, so that will have to wait until Stefano and I get back to Italy.

Let’s see. Just briefly, Stefano, Mom, Dad and I returned to Cape Cod last night. What an adventure THAT was…I don’t have time to tell you about it now…but, just to give you an idea, on December 17 we left for Phoenix in the middle of that major winter storm that hit the East Coast (flights were delayed and canceled…a mess!), and only narrowly escaped returning from Phoenix to Boston in the middle of ANOTHER blizzard! Sheesh.

But the main thing is that we’re safely home now. This morning I got up at dawn and went outside to take photos of my parents’ house covered in snow. I also got some photos of a big, fat robin perched in a tree. And Stefano and I are about to set out for the beaches to see what we can find. My biggest hope is that we will also come across a snowy owl…apparently there are many here this year, and I’ve never seen one in the flesh…Will we get lucky and see one today? Mmmmh…

Okay, really must go now. A (belated!) very Happy New Year to everyone!!! 🙂

Happy holidays!!!

We’re in Arizona, at my sister’s place in Scottsdale. Wow. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing this trip has been, how wonderful it is to be reunited with my sister and niece, and with a nephew I hadn’t seen in a very long time… But I’m typing this on my iPad, so I’ll have to make it short.

We’ve also been sightseeing. Yesterday Stefano and I went to the Botanical Gardens and were blown away. It was spectacular. We got photos of a sleeping screech owl (?) with its head resting outside its nest, which was a hole in a saguaro cactus. Stefano also got some amazing shots of a hummingbird drinking nectar. Paradise. So different from anything we’ve ever seen…anywhere!

The day after Xmas Stefano and I will be leaving on a 5-day tour of the area around Sedona. We’ll be back here in Scottsdale on New Year’s Eve.

well, typing this way is a bit of a drag, I must admit. So let me just wish everyone a very happy holiday and good times with your loved ones.

Buone Feste!!!  🙂

Dogs that are scared of walking past cats…

We’ll be in Arizona tomorrow night…I haven’t seen my sister in years (and my niece since August)…it’s going to be a great Xmas family reunion…can’t wait!

I may not have much access to the computer while we’re there, but I’ll try to pop onto the blog now and again during the holidays. Oh, I probably won’t be answering any emails until after the New Year…sorry about that…but it’s a bit complicated from here…I’ll do my best, though…

This morning I watched this hilarious video (see post title)…Hope you enjoy it, too! http://goo.gl/Gct2fy   😀

Cousin G

Yesterday Stefano informed me that his cousin had died in a hospital in Rome during the night…one of our favorite cousins.

Cousin G was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer about a month ago. As soon as we heard, I went to PubMed and did some research, so I knew it was bad…

But…this soon? Why? WHY??? So bloody unfair. I mean, cousin G was only 48 years old…full of life, funny, always ready with a joke…his wife is one of the nicest, sweetest women on the planet…they have a vivacious, smart 7-year-old son…and they had just bought and moved into their first house…

Oh how I wanted him to beat those bloody statistics…

Still in shock…absolutely devastating news…

U.S.A. Xmas 2013…a bit of a bumpy start.

Boy, what a trip…On Saturday morning Stefano drove me to the Florence airport where I was supposed to board a flight to Munich (and, from there, a connecting flight to Boston). Well, that didn’t happen…

The Florence airport had basically shut down. All morning. Why? Because of FOG. Yes, fog. I didn’t know this, but if Florence is enveloped by fog, as it was on Saturday morning, all incoming and outgoing flights get canceled. The Lufthansa personnel told me to wait…and so Stefano and I waited…and waited and waited…

Something amusing did happen, though. Between 11 AM and 12:30 PM, as flight after flight got canceled, we’d hear similar announcements from all the airlines, more or less like this one: “Air France regrets to inform all passengers booked on flight blabla, bound for Paris, that the flight has been canceled due to adverse weather conditions. Passengers should report to the Air France desk, blablabla…”

And then, no kidding, about two nanoseconds after EACH announcement, the same loudspeaker voice informed “all passengers that the newly opened cafe’ on the second floor of the airport has a panoramic terrace.” A PANORAMIC terrace. 🙂 I mean, one minute you’re telling me that my flight has been canceled due to fog…the next, that I can go up to the new panoramic terrace on the second floor of the airport to admire…THE FOG. I was mightily amused…

At 12:30 PM Stefano and I finally heard the announcement that my flight had also been canceled, duuuh…By then I knew that I wasn’t going to make that Munich-Boston flight…

While standing in line in front of the ticket desk, waiting to find out what Lufthansa was going to do with me, I began chatting with an Italian guy in front of me…the “where are you headed?” sort of talk. (This is relevant to what happened later in the day.)

In a nutshell, Lufthansa rebooked me on a flight to Frankfurt from Bologna (a city that is about an hour’s drive from Florence), which I reached by shuttle bus with all the other stranded passengers. Note: as we were waiting to board the bus, the fog suddenly lifted, and the sun came out to mock us. 😉 Oh well.

After a long wait at the Bologna airport, I finally boarded the plane to Frankfurt that evening and immediately recognized the guy sitting next to me: the above-mentioned Italian with whom I’d exchanged a few words with at the Florence airport. A welcome coincidence. We spent the entire flight time chatting up a storm. He was on his way to the American Geophysical Union’s congress in San Francisco, so during the flight I learned a lot about earthquakes and volcanos and lava and so on…fascinating, I must say. When we landed in Frankfurt, Lufthansa put us up in the same hotel, together with two other stranded passengers, so we had dinner together. It was nice not to be alone in this unexpected and unwelcome, er, adventure…

I finally got to my parents’ home on Sunday afternoon. Almost 24 hours late. Tired but mainly verrrrrrry happy to see them…And I immediately filled myself up with curcumin and have also been taking my Manuka-curcumin concoction to ward off all the nasties to which I had been exposed this weekend, especially on the Frankfurt-Boston flight…ugh!

So far, so good. I feel fine, and the jet lag hasn’t been bad at all. 🙂

Thankful…

I know, I know. Thanksgiving 2013 is over, so I should have written this post last week. But, to be honest, I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving over here in Italy, so I can be thankful any day, right?

It happened on Saturday, as I was baking my first batches of Christmas cookies (I spent the entire weekend baking like a madwoman, while listening, dancing and singing to all sorts of music…until I ran out of butter, that is…bah…I mean, how can a baker RUN OUT OF BUTTER????).

Sure, I’ve always known this to be true, but it really hit me on Saturday. Simply put, I realized how lucky I am to have someone like Stefano in my life…My tall, dark, handsome, totally devoted ( to me, of course!!!), brilliantly intelligent and wickedly funny Italian sweetie…

Now, what I’m about to write is going to sound even cornier, but here goes anyway: I really doubt that two people could love each other more than we do. What binds us isn’t “just” love, actually: we have a lot of fun together, we share many of the same interests (bird watching, traveling, cats, etc.)…list goes on…and on…and we’re best friends…AND he scratches my back in bed (= one of the reasons I married him, in fact, hehe)…Ti amo tantissimo, Stefano.

OKAY! Quick change of topic, before this post gets too gooey and starts melting the blog!!! 😉

I have an update on my test results. Yesterday I spoke with my doctor who told me that my myeloma has indeed “moved” a little bit, as I already suspected. He added, however, that it’s probably because I fell off the curcumin wagon (by taking a lower dose, that is…stooooopid me!), and that my test results in late January or early February will be better. For the record: I think so, too. Ah, in case you’re wondering (I wondered, too), this doesn’t mean I’m not smoldering anymore. We’ll just have to see how my next results are (and the ones after that).

He did note the fact that many of my important markers, such as B2M and CRP, haven’t budged at all (or have, indeed, improved a bit). A very good sign, he said. So he feels sure that I can knock the myeloma back to where it was…a gentle knock, mind you (my doctor and I don’t believe in throwing kitchen sinks, as the saying goes, but rather in giving gentle pushes in the right direction…). All in all, therefore, it was a very positive discussion…

I’ve added 1.5 grams of quercetin to my daily dose of 8 grams of C3 Complex curcumin, and I’m probably going to add some ashwagandha (see my “article” on the right, titled “ashwaganda/withanolides”), which did me so well on two separate occasions in the past. And, since my parathyroid is a bit up, too, I’m also taking vitamin D…

Gentle pushes…

Oh, my doctor gave me a welcome bit of news: my albumin levels are about the same as they were last time. I was looking at the wrong result, duh. That is a huge relief…So I am going to correct my recent test result post in that sense…

Another, unrelated!, bit of news: I’m leaving for the United States on Saturday. This Saturday, Dec 7th. I’m going to be staying with my parents for about ten days, then the three of us are driving to Logan Airport in Boston where we’re going to meet up with Stefano (flying in the same day from Italy). The four of us are then getting on a plane to Arizona. We’re spending our Xmas holiday in Phoenix (where Stefano and I have NEVER been!) with my sister and niece, my niece’s family, plus a nephew and his daughter. This reunion was planned months ago…We haven’t all been together for YEARS now, so, well, I can’t wait!!! Verrrrrry exciting!

No promises, but I’ll try to read, and post about, a couple of studies before leaving… 🙂