Stomach flu

A couple of weeks ago I came down with a nasty case of viral gastroenteritis, more commonly known as the stomach flu. No idea how I got it…but…I got it. Well, at least Covid wasn’t involved in my case; my family doctor told me that a (small) percentage of his patients with my symptoms had turned up positive for Covid. That would have been a most unwelcome double whammy!

Petunia, October 2022

Anyway, I was quite sick for about a week, sleeping most of the time, eating nothing but bananas and toast, and watching heaps of TV series and documentaries…The cats were very helpful nurses, always by my side, or on top of me, making sure I was always warm…

Even now that I am better and almost back to my regular daily routine, I still feel very tired and weak and have to take frequent breaks. I am also concentrating on rebuilding my devastated gut microbiome, which will take some time, I think…

Speaking of microbiome, at the first sign of sickness, more or less in mid October, I stopped taking curcumin, for obvious reasons… Stopping curcumin scared me, of course, since the myeloma monster is always lurking about inside of me, but I think I’ll be okay…Positive thinking, as always. I took my first dose of curcumin today and, as soon as the doctor gives me the go-ahead, I’ll go in for my usual blood tests to make sure there haven’t been any big changes. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, that’s what has kept me “busy” in the past couple of weeks or so…And before that, I was spending my days cleaning and trying to keep the cats out of the way of the workers who are (still) working on renovating our house. It’ll be worth it in the end, but boy what a huge, dirty project…mamma mia.

That’s about it…I hope to feel strong enough to write some research-related posts soon. For now, I’m taking it easy. In fact, I need a nap right now, or a TV series… 🙂

Take care, everyone! Ciao!

An ancient and very important Irish creature

(No, not a leprechaun…hehe.)

Wow. What a trip! Stefano and I, and our friends, actually got back at the end of August, but since then I’ve been busy with finishing the translation of an article and other stuff…no time to write a post. Here I am, though, finally!

We spent three weeks traveling around Ireland, from Dublin to Kilkenny, then down to Cobh (near Cork), and then, after stopping at Mizen Head, Ireland’s most southwesterly point, up to Kenmare, Dingle, and Doolin.

It would take me hours to write about all the beautiful things we saw and all the things we did…and about the Irish people, warm and friendly and very funny. Today, though, I have time just to pick one of my favourite things, perhaps my most favourite, in fact.

Valentia Island, one of Ireland’s most westerly points, is where, between 350 and 370 million years ago, a tetrapod, which sort of looked like a big lizard, came out of the sea and left a series of footprints (and a bit of a tail and body drag, too) on a (then) tropical, muddy shore, which turned to rock over the years, as you can see in these photos.

This, incidentally, is one of only FOUR sites–the other three are in Scotland and Australia–in the entire world that documents the transition from water to land of a vertebrate…an enormous turning point in evolution, of course. Oh wait, wait, I just read of another tetrapod print site recently discovered in Poland…I will have to look into that. I was already planning a trip to Scotland to check out the other tetrapod prints! 😉 

Stefano and I have a fascination with dinosaurs…When we were in Scotland a few years ago, we spent quite a bit of time searching for dinosaur tracks on various beaches (I posted about this part of our trip, with photos). But this meter-long Irish creature lived and walked on Earth long before the dinosaurs…Extraordinary. I must say that I was a bit overcome with emotion when we got to the bottom of the cliff and were able to view and photograph these well-preserved prints. Imagine how it must have been back then…

Oh dear, I must go now, so I will quickly choose a couple of photos…I hope you enjoy them… Ciao!  🙂 

New curcumin myeloma clinical trial

Well, well, well, how about this bit of news??? Yesterday I wrote a quick Happy Holidays post that I would have published here today (Stefano and I are leaving tomorrow for a three-week holiday in Ireland, with two of our best friends and their young daughter), but then this morning I saw the news about a new clinical trial titled “Curcumin as adjuvant therapy to improve remission in myeloma patients: A pilot randomized clinical trial,” which I just had to share with you. How could I not? Wowsie!

Here is the link to the free, easy-to-read article: 

Check out the Conclusion: “Curcumin has an efficacy in improving overall remission and decreasing NF-kB, VEGF, TNF-a, and IL-6 levels in myeloma patients.”

And so we have more proof…and this proof comes from actual myeloma patients, not from cells grown in a Petri dish. The evidence is piling up!

I wonder when (or if!) our myeloma luminaries and organisations are going to wake up to the fact that curcumin has a real potential to help us myeloma folks at every stage of this cancer. If I could, I would tell them (the above luminaries and organisations) to ignore the profits and benefits (international conferences held in exotic locations, e.g.) they receive from the big pharmaceutical companies and to focus instead on us, their patients, and on our wellbeing. (Hah! Utopia, I know. Not going to happen…)

It’s so frustrating to see no move in that direction. And so we must move on our own, for example by printing out these articles and giving them to our specialists. It’s going to be a slow process, that’s for sure…But I see no other way at present.

We are the only ones who can push for a change…

Well, I’m about to go on a lovely holiday with some of my favorite people in the world, so, to be honest, right now I want to think positive, happy thoughts and not go on a long rant about big Pharma and the obvious (financial) hold it has over the cancer system. So…enough.

And now I have some packing to do, including putting my bottle of curcumin inside my carryon suitcase. Can’t forget my curcumin! 🙂

I hope you all have a lovely August and stay well (wear your masks!). I’ll see you after I get back, at the end of the month…I’m going to try to get some nice shots of the beautiful Irish coastline for the blog. Fingers crossed. Anyway, take care, everyone, and…ciao! 🙂

The hidden village: Isola Santa

Last Friday was a holiday here in Florence…San Giovanni,  = St. John, Florence’s patron saint. So Stefano and I decided to spend the three-day weekend in an ancient village called Isola Santa ( = Saint Island) up in the Alpi Apuane (Apuan Alps), a mountain range in northern Tuscany. Isola Santa is perched on the side of a mountain and reachable by a rather steep walk down from the main road where we parked our car. 

We were hoping to escape the horrendous heat wave that has hit Florence in this period…really awful, damp heat…

And, in part, we were successful, although it got warm there, too, during the day…but nothing like Florence.

We’d never been to what turned out to be a very interesting area of Tuscany, famous mainly for its marble quarries (Michelangelo!), which were clearly visible at many turns in the winding mountain road.

So…Isola Santa. The ancient, fortified village was originally built in the Middle Ages around a lodging for tired pilgrims and travellers…

In 1950, however, the inhabitants of Isola Santa were forced to abandon their homes, and the village essentially became a ghost town for decades.

The consequences are still clearly visible…caved-in roofs, ruined walls covered with ivy and other plants, and so on. What happened was that a hydroelectric power station/dam was built upriver, creating an artificial lake that submerged part of the village, including the old mill (we saw some ancient ruins emerging from the water).

View from our bedroom window

In 2001, though, a couple decided to bring the village back to life and embarked on an ambitious renovation project. To sustain the costs of this renovation, they began renting rooms and studio flats. They also built a restaurant and a cafĂŠ.

We stayed in a double room on the third and last floor of the ancient guard tower, with lovely views of the mountains and the lake and, of course, parts of the still-ruined village.

The village, its lake, and the woods surrounding it are super peaceful. Magical, really. Oh, and no TV, no Internet, no Wi-fi, very few people around. We spent two and a half days in almost total isolation from the world. Bliss.

One of the most amazing features of this lake are its reflections…it’s almost impossible to distinguish a reflection from the thing being reflected (as in the last two photos). Paintings, almost…

Ohhh, and our walks along the lake, in the woods…wow. Such peace. No noise, apart from the wind blowing through the trees…The best was just sitting on a bench in the woods and listening to the water…to the wind…so relaxing…

Such a treat…such a lovely treat.

P.S. I took these photos with my cellphone…

Châteaux de la Loire

Château de Blois

Wow, what a trip! The villages, the scenery, the food and, of course!, the castles, the fabulous châteaux of the Loire Valley.

Here’s the list of all the castles we visited from May 28 to June 4 (June 3, really, since we left for Annecy on the 4th). So, 7 full days in the valley.


During our two-day stay in Blois we visited the following castles: Château de Blois, Château de Chambord, Château de Cheverny, Château de Chaumont.

Chateau de Chambord (the exterior was being restored, so, unfortunately, my best photos are of the interior)

We spent most of our stay in Tours, and from there we visited these: Château de Chenonceau (perhaps the most famous, deservedly so), Château de Loches (it’s more than a castle, more like a fortified village atop a hill), Château de Villandry, Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, Château d’Amboise, Château du Clos LucĂŠ (Leonardo da Vinci’s last home), Château de Chinon (more of a fortress than a castle), Château de Langeais. And we had an outside look of the Château de Saumur.

Château de Chevergny

The towns we visited were Bourges (its cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site…but I remember Bourges best for its half-timbered houses, see photo 2, and its macarons, which were amazingly tasty, and, hey, I don’t really care for macarons, normally), Amboise, Chinon, Loches, ChĂŠdigny,  and, of course, Blois and Tours. Lovely Medieval centres.

Château de Chenonceau

And also a 12th century abbey, the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, where the body of Richard Lionheart is buried (but not his heart, which was embalmed and sent to Rouen, and his entrails, which were buried in Chalus…a bit gruesome, yes, but I thought it was really interesting) next to his wife and his parents.

Village of ChĂŠdigny, lovely roses everywhere

Speaking of the parents, I have read quite a bit about this period of history, especially about Richard’s mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine (have you seen the BBC series “She-Wolves: England’s Early Queens”? Well, I found it enthralling…And Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of the…she-wolves). Anyway, that was all very interesting…Lots of history, there…

Okay, here are a few of my million photos (the earliest ones, up to Villandry…I may post more in the coming days)…

Château de Villandry, famous for its stunning gardens 

Oh, a quick note: with my “new” (relatively speaking, since I had the operation in late November) hip, I walked between 10-13 kilometres a day without any problems. Up and down hills, up and down stairs, too. I was, and am!, very pleased!

Again, Château de Villandry (you can spot it in the distance), one of my favourites



A little holiday

Well, actually, for us it’s a BIG holiday: we’re driving to the Loire Valley tomorrow and will be traveling around the Tours and Blois area, visiting castles and pretty medieval towns for about 10 days. Bliss!

She hated the collar, but she didn’t complain, especially after she found a new…friend with a similar collar…

News snippets: 1. Petunia was sterilised last week and is doing beautifully. She is such a sweetie (unless you try to put her inside the cat carrier, in which case she goes absolutely ballistic and twists and turns and…well, those of you who have cats will know what I mean, I’m sure…)…Anyway, I took her to the vet for a check-up yesterday, and her wound is basically healed. So, all is well with Petunia, my little princess…such a relief!

2. A few days after we get back from France, in early June that is, I’ll be taking Puffin, her brother (see photo) to the vet clinic to be neutered. Ah yes, the…fun never ceases. Ugh. 🙁 

3. The renovation work on our house will begin in early July, not mid June as we’d been told. A bureaucratic issue, as it turns out. We are taking advantage of the Italian government’s so-called Ecobonus or Superbonus, which allows homeowners to deduct 110% of the cost of adding energy efficiency upgrades to their homes (and we will be doing just that…new roof, solar panels, etc.) and that sort of thing. In order to receive this Bonus, though, we obviously have to have all of our technical appraisal documents in order…and, as it happens, the last one only just came in. Uff! So…a bit more waiting. No problem. As long as it gets done…

4. Did I tell you that I am a dual citizen now? Oh yes: U.S. and Italian. As you (may) know, I am a U.S. citizen married to an Italian (a wonderful wonderful guy whom I love to bits!)…Well, I finally decided to apply for Italian citizenship a couple of years ago. After months and months of collecting and translating all the necessary documents, I became an Italian citizen in early November. I already have my Italian identity card, and a few days ago I also applied for my Italian passport, which I should have at some point in June. I’m so happy! I mean, HAPPY! Yaaaaaay!!! Oh, I love this country…

Anyway, sorry for the long ramble. I actually just wanted to mention that I won’t be blogging until we return from France, but then I got a bit carried away, hehe…

Well, until I get back and post some of our photos, do take care, everyone, and be well…Ciao! 🙂

Castles and croissants

Hi everyone! I hope you’re doing fabulously!!! I’ve been getting messages from blog readers with a variety of queries, and that made me realise that I haven’t been blogging for a VERY LONG TIME! So sorry about that! Yes, true, I’m still quite “blogged out,” but mainly I’ve been busy with a bunch of projects that I’ve been putting off for years.

Petunia, Florence, May 2022

In June we’re having our roof redone and solar panels installed, as well as a bunch of other stuff, including having air-conditioning put in the only (two) rooms that don’t have it. Our cat-vomit-stained-cotto-tile-floors are going to undergo a new sort of treatment that will be much more resistant to stains and whatnot.

This is only a partial list, of course, but the long and short of it is that we’ll have workers inside and outside and on top of the house for a month and a half…I’m certainly not looking forward to all the dust dust dust dirt dirt dirt…Just the thought makes me sneeze!!! But the work must be done, and the house will be fabulous in the end, and much cheaper to run compared to now…

Point is, and yes here we get to the point of all this rambling: in order to prepare for this long…ordeal, we have been going through and getting rid of heaps of stuff that we don’t use anymore and that is mostly stashed in the attic. A clean sweep, so to speak, before the dust and dirt covers everything…

Attics…wonderful places, you know. That is, until you have to CLEAN them, especially when you’re being followed around by a bunch of very curious cats intent on getting into bloody EVERYTHING. But I don’t mind…they are so adorable…!!!

Puffin, Florence, May 2022

Speaking of curious cats, our kittens, see photos, have almost reached the age of sterilisation, which will happen in early June, before the work begins. In Italy, kittens normally don’t get sterilised before they are seven months old. And these two little monkeys are almost seven months old…

Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with the long list of all the things I’m doing right now zzzzzz and will be doing in the next few months zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!! No. I just wanted to write a short, chatty post to let you know that I’m fine…just caught up in my life. Oh, BIG NEWS: I’m walking and have been walking for a while now…My crutches are a thing of the past! Yaaay! And where are the crutches, you might be wondering? Why, in the ATTIC…where else? Hahahaha! 🙂

So all is good…actually, VERY good…Stefano and I are going to take a break in a few weeks and drive up to the Loire Valley…Nothing but castles and croissants for ten days…mmmh, can’t wait…I will certainly post photos here when we return.

Okay, must stop blabbing now…Take care, everyone! Ciao! 🙂

“Why multiple myeloma returns”…

That’s the title of an interesting Science Daily article that I came across this morning (and that blog reader Ana also told me about in a comment I read soon afterward, thank you!). Here’s the link:

In a nutshell, a group of researchers at the CharitĂŠ – Universitätsmedizin Berlin discovered that the culprit to the HUGE problem of drug resistance (non-genetic drug resistance, in particular) in myeloma is the increased production of a protein, the CDK6 protein, which not only activates cell proliferation but also, interestingly, binds with one of myeloma’s best buddies, Cyclin D1 (about which I’ve written quite a lot…do a Search of the blog if you are interested in the topic).

Okay, so we now have a culprit: CDK6.

Guess what? Well, by now this should not come as a surprise: curcumin inhibits CDK6, just as it inhibits Cyclin D1.


Will the curcumin-CDK6 connection ever be studied in the conventional myeloma world? I doubt it, oh very much so, for what I believe are obvious reasons. No, what will happen is that a conventional drug, probably with lots of side effects, will be studied, tested, and put on the market.

It’s frustrating…so many missed opportunities to help us myeloma folks (as well as other folks with different types of cancer). So many missed opportunities…

To be honest, I think that’s probably the main reason I got such a serious case of burnout and stopped doing research…I knew it wouldn’t go anywhere, really, and that, no matter what I uncovered and wrote about, nothing would move in the conventional myeloma world. The only thing that has moved, which is a huge deal, of course!, is that many of us now take curcumin and other natural extracts that I’ve researched and posted about. And even though my blog is almost at a standstill now, I still get lovely messages on a daily basis from blog readers. It means a lot to me…thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Petunia and Puffin, March 2022

Anyway, changing topic before I get too carried away, I wonder what other natural extracts inhibit this blasted protein. Hmmm…

If I can tear myself away from our amazingly adorable 4.5-month-old kittens, I will definitely have a look. 🙂

Take care, everyone! Ciao!

P.S. Here’s the link to the article itself (I haven’t read it yet…zzzzzzz!):

Petunia and Puffin

Everything is going well. Very well. Two days ago I had my first orthopaedic checkup at the clinic and was told that I am their best patient, top of the class (hmmm, perhaps that’s what they say to every patient…nonetheless, I was pleased!).

I’m down to one crutch now, which has made a huuuuuge difference to me, since I can manage the stairs on my own and take showers now! Yay! So…all is well on the hip replacement front. So nice to be without pain…so nice!

In about three weeks, these two Maine Coon kittens will be joining our family. As I mentioned in a previous post, they have the same parents as our Potter, so we know that they will fit in this complicated feline family as well as he has. Or, at least, that’s what we hope! 🙂

Here is a recent photo of the two, taken by our friend (no idea how she got them to sit still and pose for the photo…hehe). On the left is Petunia, on the right is Puffin. Respectively, female and male. Aren’t they just the cutest little fur balls?

Well, that’s about it for now. I would like to end by wishing Very Happy Holidays to everyone!!!