I soon got on my computer and began researching my options. I looked at conventional and alternative treatments. One day (January 2006), while scrolling down the list of clinical trials on the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation website, I noticed that there was a curcumin clinical trial taking place at the MD Anderson Cancer Research Center of the University of Texas. Curcumin? A joke, surely. I searched the words curcumin and myeloma on Google, and came upon the studies published in Blood (February 2003 and April 2004). I read all I could about curcumin.
In the end, I was convinced. I had to try it. Clearly, because I live in Italy, participating in the curcumin myeloma clinical trial in Texas was not an option. However, my main problem was that I had no idea how much curcumin I should be taking. In the beginning, I also mistook turmeric (the spice) for curcumin (turmeric’s active ingredient). In Italian, these are very similar words, hence the confusion. Indeed, I bought a huge supply of turmeric, which, more than a year later, I am still using in my cooking!
I wrote an e-mail to the head of the MD Anderson curcumin research team, Prof. Bharat Aggarwal, attaching my test results. I didn’t really expect him to answer. But answer he did, with a very nice message, encouraging me to try curcumin, and explaining the difference between turmeric and curcumin. He included the initial eight-week curcumin protocol. I ordered curcumin, and started the protocol, after having blood tests done and consulting with my haematologist and family. After 8 weeks, I redid my blood tests, and for the first time since 1999, my IgG count had gone down, from 34.5 grams per liter to 29.8 grams per liter. Success!
Curcumin and Myeloma Blog
The focus of my blog will be on my personal experience with multiple myeloma and curcumin. However, I will also write about other alternative treatments with which I have direct experience or that look particularly promising. When I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in late December 2005, my Italian haematologist suggested that I do two cycles of Velcade, and then have an autologous SCT in the summer of 2006.
When, shortly thereafter, I approached him with the curcumin-myeloma studies, he was very polite, but I could tell he was sceptical. However, he agreed that postponing the Velcade treatments for eight weeks wouldn’t make much difference in my case, so I went ahead with the curcumin protocol. Some time after reading my March 2006 test results, my first curcumin results, my haematologist told me that he was sprinkling turmeric over his food. Like me, my family and friends, he was stunned by these positive results.
My discovery of the curcumin-myeloma studies and clinical trial changed the direction of my treatment. I have never had chemotherapy. There has been no need for it. Curcumin has kept my myeloma stable for more than two years, now. My quality of life is very good, even though, like all myeloma patients, my other immunoglobulins are low, which means that I try to avoid crowds during the peak flu and cold season. When I get a cold, I usually develop a cough and have to take antibiotics. In 2006 I came down with a very bad case of pneumonia that quickly turned into pleurisy. It took me a couple of months to recover completely.
But apart from that, I enjoy life here. I am married to a wonderful Italian, and we have 4 house cats. We live in a row house surrounded by green fields and hills, under Fiesole. It’s like living in the country, but it’s a five minute walk to the nearest bus stop and a short ride to the city center.
Life is good.