A new commission looks into the adverse effects of blood cancer treatments

This morning I read an IMPORTANT Science Daily article on how the adverse effects, tolerability, and toxicities of conventional treatments for blood cancers (including myeloma, of course) have not been reported/disclosed as well as they should have been, to put it mildly. See: goo.gl/ou9CNg

Well, this may change soon enough: a new commission set up by The Lancet Haematology has been looking into these adverse effects and toxicities, considering in particular the long-term, chronic effects that don’t go away even after the completion of treatment, such as neuropathy, which can be crippling.

Quality of life has always been a big concern of mine, and I always look for adverse effects and toxicities whenever I read studies about patients and conventional treatments. Very rarely, however, are adverse effects mentioned…The first study that comes to mind is the Spanish SMM patient-chemo study, where there was no information on how the early treatment of SMM patients affected their daily lives. And yet their lives must have been affected, at least in some ways…

Excerpt from the SD article: “In particular, the toxicity over time and tolerability to the patient of new chronic or continuously administered therapies are not well defined, and are poorly captured by existing reporting mechanisms.

Well, the important thing is that FINALLY (about time!!!) there is a commission looking into this lesser-disclosed (to say the least) part of conventional treatments. This is very good news.

We, the patients, need to be INFORMED about any and all potential problems, both short-term and long-term…

Or, at least, that is MY opinion! As usual!!! 🙂

Food items we should avoid “like the plague”…

I just read a very interesting interview with/article about a food poisoning lawyer (imagine that…!!!) who shares his knowledge about food, potentially contaminated food. And some of it isn’t so obvious.

That is why I’m posting the link to the article, as a warning/reminder to those of us who have weakened immune systems: goo.gl/NG3oty

I never buy prepackaged (washed? Hah!) salad, e.g., or anything that has been cut and washed by others. I never go near salad bars, no matter how clean the restaurant looks. Bacteria bacteria bacteria! Better be safe than sorry…

After my SMM diagnosis, I began growing my own sprouts, which contain lots of vitamins and minerals (even protein and so on). Until…one day I read about the risk of Salmonella and E.coli contamination, and that completely killed my sprout-growing enthusiasm. I gave my sprouter away. Just a few days ago, in fact, there was an outbreak of Salmonella in Southern Australia caused by alfalfa sprouts. Yes, okay, these were store-bought, but still…I’m not taking the risk. No sprouts in my sandwich, thank you very much!!!

Anyway, the above interview/article may surprise you. Or not!

Do you have any additions/suggestions? Thanks! Have a great Sunday! Ciao! 🙂

Researchers test curcumin in new bone-building study

After enhancing the bioavailability of curcumin using polymers, a group of Washington State University researchers proved that curcumin can increase bone growth by between 30% and 45%  in a matter of weeks: “The presence of curcumin in TCP results in enhanced bone formation after 6 weeks.” (Quoted from the abstract.)

The researchers are currently testing other natural extracts as well, namely “aloe vera, saffron, Vitamin D, garlic, oregano and ginger [… ] that might help with bone disorders, including those that encourage bone growth or that have anti-inflammatory, infection control, or anti-cancer properties.” (Quoted from Science Daily, see link below.)

The bone-forming qualities of curcumin are nothing new to us (I’ve written a number of posts on this topic), but it’s always good to learn that researchers are looking for, and apparently FINDING, new ways to make curcumin more bioavailable, especially if it has to do with our precious bones!

Note: this study was carried out on 3D-printed, ceramic bone scaffolds, not on human beings. So there is still a long way to go. Still, it is encouraging to have one more study prove the importance of curcumin for bone health and growth…

Curcumin forever!

Here’s the very interesting write-up in Science Daily (easy to read, to boot): goo.gl/MRxtK2 There is a link to the study’s abstract there, for those who want to know more.

Happy reading! 🙂

“It’s just a cat…”

Last summer, when we were forced to put down our two eldest cats, Puzzola and Piccolo (Puzzola, in June; Piccolo, in September), Stefano and I were absolutely devastated…overwhelmed with grief. Losing a pet is like losing a piece of yourself. A piece that is gone forever.

Piccolo (left) and Puzzola in 2005

Plus, in addition to all this emotional (at times, physical) pain, we also had to deal with the “it’s just a cat/dog/etc.” attitude of pet-less friends/people who just don’t get it. Last summer I remember hiding my despair from some of my closest friends, the pet-less ones, which wasn’t easy AT ALL…

In time, it’s gotten easier. Life goes on…but I still think of my lost cats every day, and I cry for them now and again (like RIGHT NOW, as I write this post). I know it’s the same for Stefano…Nothing can replace Puzzola and Piccolo in our hearts and daily life, not even our two mischievous/funny/adorable sisters, Pixie and Pandora, who really keep us entertained and give us so much love (as do our other adult cats, too, of course!)…

Oh, but WHY am I going back in time today and talking about my lost cats? It’s because this morning I read an excellent, spot-on Scientific American article, titled “Why we need to take pet loss seriously”: goo.gl/ASy9rT


Spot on.

If you have ever lost a pet, you must read this article, which offers a few helpful suggestions…

Quick post

Wow, it’s been a long time since I last published a post. Everything is fine, more or less…This has just been a super busy period…

In a nutshell: our two mischievous kittens (see the awful cellphone photo on the right) were spayed a couple of weeks ago after the scare with Pandora’s heart turned out to be just that. I mean, it was just a scare, luckily!!! They are doing just fine and are as mischievous as ever.

Then Stefano and I spent four days at a cousin’s wedding in Avellino, a town near Naples, then there were a million things to do once we got back to Florence, teaching English blablabla…then Stefano came down with a cold, which developed into bronchitis, which he passed on to me this past weekend. And so I’ve been coughing up a storm since Sunday (oh how I hate THE cough!!!)…But I’ll be fine, no worries…I feel much better today. I’ve been taking antibiotics, probiotics, the usual curcumin, Reishi extract, and the most important thing: an expectorant cough syrup (yeah, gross, I know…but essential in these cases). Bronchitis in June…makes no sense. There you go.

And then…also…eh…last week a friend’s husband, who’d had myeloma for 12 years, died…He was just a few years older than I am…I’ve been in touch with his wife for years…for years…so sad.

Crappy, crappy myeloma, grrrrr!!!  👿

Anyway, lots going on, as you can see. But now I have to get off the computer, so I hope everyone is fine and dandy. Ciao for now!

Mice don’t vomit

The fact that mice don’t vomit is one of the many things that I learned while reading an extraordinary May 16 Boston Globe article about an experimental cancer treatment that cured, yes, cured a dog, a golden retriever, from soft tissue sarcoma. This cancer treatment, immunotherapy, might possibly (someday) help human patients, too.

Anyway, have a look here: goo.gl/DyBnJZ

Really quite amazing. Incidentally, many thanks to Cynthia for posting the link to this article on Facebook…

Quick update: our 8.5 month old kittens, Pandora and Pixie, were sterilized on Monday and are doing well, phew… Tomorrow I’m taking them back to the vet clinic for their post-op check-up. Everything seems to be going fine, but my fingers are still crossed! 🙂


This morning one of my best friends and I took Pandora and Pixie (my two 8.5 month old kittens) to the vet clinic for a pre-spaying check-up to make sure they are healthy enough for surgery…heart, lungs, etc.

Pixie was fine. But when Pandora’s turn came, I related this incident to the anesthesiologist: one day, not too long ago, Pixie (probably in heat) was zooming like a maniac around the house, with Pandora right behind her.  After a few minutes, Pandora threw herself down on the carpet, panting like a dog, with her tongue out. Pixie was resting, too, but normally (no panting, i.e.).

I’d never seen a cat PANT like that, so, worried, I picked her up and tried to calm her down. But when Pixie jumped up and took off again, Pandora struggled to get free. I let her go.

Based on this story, the anesthesiologist said she’d like to do an X-ray to see if Pandora might have asthma. Or…whatever. I agreed, of course.

Turns out that her lungs are fine, but the vets did see something on the x-ray that made them want to do an echocardiogram. I’m taking Pandora to the vets on Thursday to have that test done and to speak with the cardiologist.

One thing the anesthesiologist told me is that Pandora has a bigger-than-normal heart. Not sure what that means. Need to do some research…Anyway, I’ll find out on Thursday…

Then, on Monday, presuming all goes well (with the test results, I mean), Pandora and Pixie will be spayed, and I’ll be super relieved since they are making the other cats (all spayed and neutered) very JUMPY these days…

It’s time.

These are some photos I took during the check-up…The first two show Pixie being examined by the anesthesiologist, with Pandora in the background. Then it’s the post-visit relief/exhaustion before going home…Note: they’re in my beloved Piccolo’s carrier…

Incidentally, everyone at the clinic stopped what they were doing to come over and admire my babies. And, well, I have to admit that they are both…simply irresistible! 🙂

Positive reinforcement may have an effect even on…PLANTS!!!

Okay, this post really has nothing to do with myeloma (although one could argue that it’s related to stress, in some way…), but I found it absolutely FASCINATING.

It describes an experiment by IKEA, which recently placed two of its own plants in a school in Dubai and asked students to verbally abuse one of them while talking in a positive manner to the other. See: goo.gl/DJFsBF

As you will see in the video, after only one month, the “abused” plant looked terrible, all wilted, with brown-spotted leaves, while the “complimented” plant was healthy, with lovely green leaves.

As you can read in the article, some people were skeptical about the results of this experiment, which they even called a hoax.

Well, here’s what I think: I doubt that plants understand actual WORDS (except in “Little Shop of Horrors”  and perhaps other, similar horror movies featuring killer plants), but I do find it easy to believe that our TONE OF VOICE could have an impact…yes, even on plants…

It’s the difference, say, between whispering gently and shouting angrily. No, I don’t find that outrageous at all…

Besides, the article mentions another experiment carried out by Mythbusters in two different greenhouses. The “silent” greenhouse performed worse than the other greenhouse where “recorded messages” were played. In this case, it seems quite clear that the CONTENT of the messages was totally irrelevant. What had an impact, IMO, was the “noise”…Of course, it has to be a nice, gentle noise. I doubt that loud music such as heavy metal could possibly be beneficial to the plants. But hey, you never know… 😉

Okay, I’m ready to test this theory. I’m off to our terrace to whisper words of encouragement to my lemon tree, so that all of its pretty little flowers will turn into delicious lemons…mmmmh, yeah!

(Last year, you see, all its flowers fell off for unknown reasons, so we ended up with zero lemons…Fingers crossed for this year…).

At any rate, good job, IKEA! 🙂 

IgA’s role in maintaining and controlling bacteria in the gut

A couple of days ago, I came across a very interesting article on gut bacteria, a topic I’ve written about in the past.

The article focuses on a recent finding: our IgA helps a certain type of bacteria stick to, and become part of, our gut. This finding may not seem important, at first glance, but it could someday lead to the treatment of many diseases. 

But the main message that I got from this article is that we should supplement with probiotics on a daily basis (I’ve highlighted this issue more than once).

I didn’t realize until today, in fact, that my low levels of IgA might be having a very negative effect on my microbiome.

Anyway, do have a look at the article. It’s easy to read, to boot: goo.gl/zAAUZX

Excerpt: “…Without IgA, the microbes fail to permanently colonize the gut…” Yikes!

9/11 firefighters have an increased risk of developing cancer, especially multiple myeloma

I have read that firefighters in general are three times more likely to get cancer because of their exposure to toxic chemicals that they inhale and that also get stuck in their clothing. But it really saddened me last week to read a recently published report about the 9/11 firefighters…

In this NBC News article, multiple myeloma is the first cancer mentioned: goo.gl/XaZJsa

The fact that so many of these brave people were being diagnosed with MGUS and MM is actually not the news of the day. I’ve been reading articles about this for years now. But, as I wrote above, there is a new study, published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Oncology: ) that officially confirms this terrible trend.

And I quote…The JAMA “study shows that WTC exposure may be a risk factor for the development of multiple myeloma and its precursor disease.”

Here’s the link to the actual (full) study: goo.gl/BcyEqn

My best wishes to them and their families.