Happy Holidays!

06.12.24-Christmas-0014Stefano and I are leaving for the United States tomorrow morning…very early…zzzzzz.

We’ll be back in Florence on January 6…so we’ll be spending exactly two weeks with my parents on Cape Cod. We are, as usual, leaving our cats in very good, capable hands, those of our fabulous house and cat sitter, also a good friend.¬†09.12.13-Christmas-0077


I didn’t want to post an anonymous Xmas greeting on the blog today, so I went through our old Xmas photos and, well, here are a few. Of course, the main theme is…cats, cats…and more cats!!! ūüôā


If you hover over the photos, you’ll be able to see the date each photo was taken, etc. You can also click on at least some of the photos to make them bigger. I don’t know why the “make ’em bigger” option doesn’t work for ALL the photos…technological mysteries…

I’ll be back online day after tomorrow…Again, I apologize to those who sent me messages to which I haven’t replied yet. I’ll try to get to them in January.¬†09.12.25-Christmas-0294
If you would like¬†an answer before then, please send me another message, since I won’t be able to access/read your “old” messages (which have been downloaded onto my main computer, this one, that is).¬†11.12.19-Christmas-0027


B-cell disorders and curcumin

A few days ago, a very kind and generous blog reader sent me the full study that I‚Äôd mentioned in my December 18 2015 post. Here are¬†a few highlights…

First, I‚Äôd like to say that what I really like about these researchers, Golombick et al, is that they are looking for NONTOXIC ways to ‚Äúdevelop early intervention strategies.‚ÄĚ As you know, the conventional myeloma world is looking mostly at TOXIC early intervention strategies, which, as we know, can be very risky (just read my December 7 2014 post about the subpopulations of myeloma…).

Before I go on, this study is really a sort of “summary” that combines¬†the data from previous studies carried out by these researchers on MGUS, SMM, and early-stage CLL patients. So we can actually access all the data on our own…

Since I’ve already posted about the MGUS and SMM patient studies (plus the one on a¬†patient with laryngeal amyloidosis, which you can find by doing a search of my blog…), I wanted instead to focus a bit on¬†a¬†study carried out on early-stage CLL patients, a study published back in June but that I didn’t know about until this morning (it’s not myeloma-related, you see…). And the only reason I found out about it is¬†because it’is¬†discussed in our¬†above-mentioned “summary” study. Here’s the link (to the CLL study): http://goo.gl/IPqo1n¬†You can download and read the entire shebang¬†for free…

Now for a bit of¬†VERY interesting information:¬†these CLL patients, 21 individuals with stage O/1 CLL (that is, early-stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia), took¬†Meriva curcumin. Meriva, non C3 Complex curcumin…

Well, well.¬†For the past three years or so, I‚Äôve actually been curious to try Meriva, and back in 2012 I actually wrote a post about it. I should really test¬†Meriva at some point…In fact, it makes sense to buy some while I‚Äôm in the U.S.A. for the holidays (we‚Äôre leaving day after tomorrow!). So now¬†it’s on my list of things to buy…funny cat Xmas cartoon

You’re probably curious about dosage, since I was, too. You may find this incredible, but the dose administered to the CLL patients was just two grams a day. No kidding. Two grams…

And at that dose, a small percentage of these CLL patients had¬†a more than 20% decrease in their absolute lymphocyte count,¬†which is very good…this decrease¬†occurred after just a few months in 4¬†patients out of 21. The rest of the patients didn’t respond to curcumin, apparently.

At least, they apparently had no response to this type of curcumin, and/or¬†to this dosage (this last sentence is my own, by the way…just a thought I had while reading the study…).¬†Hmmm, I wonder what would have happened if those CLL patients had taken¬†a higher dose‚Ķjust wondering‚Ķespecially since I can’t even imagine going down to 2 grams a day…nope…no way!

Well, perhaps a dose increase¬†might be an idea for a follow-up study‚ĶAnyway, this is an interesting study, and I know it’s not a myeloma-related one, but please go have a look, at least at the Results, Discussion, and Conclusion parts. There are a lot of details that I don’t have the time right now to post about…

Let‚Äôs get back to our MGUS, SMM, and CLL study now. It¬†ends by suggesting that curcumin may be beneficial to some folks with MGUS, SMM, or early stage CLL, and that early intervention with curcumin ‚Äúmay lead to prolonged survival and delay in progressive disease in some of these patients.‚ÄĚ

Plus, as we know, the obvious advantage of curcumin is that it is not toxic at all  (unless you have gall bladder issues, so please do be careful about that!!!).

I agree with the conclusion reached by these researchers: we need larger studies. The problem is where to find the funding for these larger studies…same old, same old…uff.

In the meantime, I would like to¬†send a message to¬†Dr. Golombick publicly: THANK YOU, THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!, for your¬†indefatigable work on behalf of blood cancer patients. ūüôā

P.S. I might have asked this¬†in a previous post, but does anybody here take Meriva? If so, with what results? And what dosage? Thanks! ūüôā

New study: curcumin may lead to prolonged survival and delay in progressive disease of some MGUS, SMM, and CLL patients

Hot off the press: http://goo.gl/F0whJs¬†Here’s what the abstract tells us:

“Clinical studies with patients with early hematological malignancies (ie, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, smoldering multiple myeloma, or stage 0/1 chronic lymphocytic leukemia) suggest that early intervention with curcumin, derived from the spice turmeric, may lead to prolonged survival and delay in progressive disease in some of these patients.”¬†

I’m curious to see the full study…But it hasn’t been published yet…Still, this is a rather nice Christmas present, don’t you think? ūüôā

Waiting for Christmas…views of Florence…

First of all, I’d like to apologize to those of you who have written to me and are still waiting for aIMG_5459n answer. This last period has been hectic for me, and it’s just going to get “worse” next week…I mean, more hectic. Mostly, in a good sense, though! ūüôāIMG_5466

For example, I finally met the woman who founded the Italian MGUS support group on Facebook (we celebrated the group’s sixth year “birthday” just last week). I “met” her on Facebook when I joined the group, about five years ago. At a certain point she asked me if I would help her co-administer (is that even a verb? Hmmm) the group, which back then counted about 200 members (it now has 419 members!…and more co-administrators, too). IMG_5473Anyway, throughout the years, she and I have¬†stayed¬†in touch in many ways–phone messages, emails, phone calls–but we’d never actually met “in the flesh” until two days ago, which is when she, her husband and adult son made a stop¬†in¬†Florence on their way back home from Rome to Trieste, where they live. And so we met. Finally.

And what a wonderful meeting it was. Indeed! It didn’t feel as though we were meeting for the first time. No, it was like¬†two old friends getting together after not having seen¬†each other for quite a long time.
We chatted and chatted…and…chatted…for HOURS. Her husband and son were¬†incredibly¬†patient, I must say! ūüôāIMG_5481

In the late afternoon I drove them to the Piazzale Michelangelo, a large square offering¬†the most stunning panoramic views of Florence, especially at sunset, as you can see from my not-so-splendid photos below…

IMG_5484A couple of cute things happened while we were at the Piazzale. Number 1) While we were admiring the views, we suddenly heard a small group of friends¬†whooping and clapping right next to us. Soon the entire Piazzale was clapping, jumping, and screeching with joy.¬†Everyone stopped doing what they were doing–taking selfies, mostly. What had happened, you ask? Well, a young man had just proposed to his girlfriend. And this happened right next to us. Such a happy moment.¬†IMG_5482

Number 2) About a half hour later, a very cheerful group of friends wearing Santa hats came up to me and asked¬†if I would take a photo of them. I said yes, of course, but¬†ONLY¬†if I could take a photo of them afterwards. I added, “you guys are too cute!” They said, sure, go right ahead. So I am posting¬†that photo, too (my next-to-last photo). Such a cute bunch, they were! ūüôā¬†IMG_5593IMG_5580

Anyway, from there we went to nearby San Miniato al Monte, one of the loveliest (in my opinion) churches in Florence. And then we drove back to my house to meet Stefano and go out for pizza.

Such a lovely meeting, such a lovely time. ūüôā

Apart from that, I’ve been working a lot, baking Xmas cookies for my friends and neighbors, wrapping presents, AND¬†getting ready to leave for¬†the U.S.A. Yes, Stefano and I will be spending Xmas and New Year’s with my parents on Cape Cod. Busy busy and…BUSY!

So…again…I apologize for not having answered any messages in this period. Please be patient. Or, if you really want to hear from me, write to me again, and I’ll do my best!¬†IMG_5577

I thought you might¬†enjoy these photos I took of Florence on two separate occasions.¬†I took most of them (the “day” photos) when I joined a close friend for a walk in the center of the city last week. The three¬†“evening” shots, that is, the last three photos, were instead taken at the Piazzale Michelangelo a couple of days ago…

By the way, if you hover over the photos for a second, you will be able to read a brief description of where each¬†photo was taken…

Animated myeloma 2015

Last year (you can¬†search my blog for “animated myeloma”…Hint: it’s my November 1 2014 post…), I posted¬†about a series of¬†short animations made by Myeloma UK. An¬†absolutely brilliant idea: myeloma explained with cartoons…short, simple, not scary at all.

And now we have a few more. So far I’ve watched the one¬†about¬†the clonal evolution of myeloma. Very interesting. Anyway, here you’ll find the list of the new animations, including one on amyloidosis:¬†http://goo.gl/LOSije

Well done,¬†Myeloma UK! ūüôā

P.S. By the way, I haven’t forgotten about cannabidiol and ion channels…I’ve been working on this topic¬†whenever I have some free time and FEEL like doing some research…To be honest, though, sometimes I’d just rather go take a walk through the center of Florence with a good friend (upcoming post)… ūüôā


_MG_3359I was just looking through some of my old blog drafts (delete delete delete!)…drafts that never reached the publication stage for one reason or another. Among them I found one that I¬†had written¬†exactly ONE YEAR AGO…on December 1 2014. No kidding. I didn’t publish it at the time¬†because one of our beloved cats became terribly ill soon thereafter¬†(the kitty is fine now, by the way). And after that period of much worry,¬†my Arezzo¬†draft simply got pushed aside and forgotten…until today.

So this post refers to a day (in late November 2014) that Stefano and I spent in the lovely Tuscan city of Arezzo with some good friends of ours.

_MG_3366We had reserved afternoon tickets to visit the 15th century frescoes painted by Piero della Francesca inside the Basilica di San Francesco. Piero della Francesca was among the first early Renaissance painters to use perspective, which may not sound like much today but back then was a huuuuuge innovation.

The sequence of frescoes depicting the Legend of the True Cross is considered to be an early Renaissance masterpiece.

It deserves that title, in my opinion. Among other things,¬†I was struck by the expressions of terror on the horses’ faces, which cannot be seen that well in that first photo…but I thought it¬†was simply extraordinary…

Anyway, here are a few of the photos I took (no flash allowed, of course!). The two photos of the Piero della Francesca frescoes look a bit distorted because I was looking up at them. In other words, they weren’t at eye level…same problem with the church in the third photo.¬†_MG_3388

If you look closely at the photo of the¬†fa√ßade of the church “Santa Maria della Pieve” (photo no. 3), you will notice that all the columns¬†are different. One is even a statue. This is its most striking feature…so, when you visit Arezzo, make sure to have a good look at this fa√ßade.

By the way, if you click on some of the photos, you can make them bigger.¬†The only photo that doesn’t do that for me is the second one. No idea why…_MG_3407

My last photo is of Piazza Grande, a stunning¬†Medieval square with¬†a sloping pavement in red brick. It used to be the main marketplace of Arezzo. The photo unfortunately gives only a partial view of it…

Anyway, even though this is hardly a recently-written post (!), I still hope you will enjoy it. ūüôā