With summer vacations in full swing, it is important to step back and celebrate the best moments of our lives, the victories whether large or small (or hard-to-find) to find joy for the future.

As I've written about countless times before in my past blogs, a Blue Zone island in Greece, Ikaria (or Icaria) is where people live to be over 100 years old while celebrating their daily lives. Living in this island comes with a great Mediterranean diet, active lives, and wonderful social gatherings.

The Panagiria—a series of traditional rituals connected with religious festivals— is celebrated in the summer with splendid local wine in a relaxed island location.

Dealing with hectic schedules, budgets, and stress on a day-to-day makes engaging in activities like this seem elusive, but this is what we need to strive for—at the very least, for the lazy days of summer.

Joyful, Long Lives

A striking quality among people in Ikaria is their relaxed way living.

Yes, they have a great diet, but they also have less stress compared to other people—getting up late, having a relaxed lunch followed by a nap, maybe some herbal tea along the way. Then, they prepare for a long evening with the company of family and friends.

Older family members are revered and given special attention. Fortunately, many western diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and chronic health issues are quite rare.

Faced with daily challenges, it is hard for most of us to even envisage such an idyllic lifestyle. But doing our best with problem-solving, stress reduction, and maximizing our support network to enhance resilience can be steps toward a more positive direction. Knowing our goals and the need for joy in our lives can make all the difference.

Stories from Ikaria tell us that sometimes, change needs to happen to reduce stress and get on a better path forward. But first, take a break, relax, enjoy, and re-energize. Your problems can take a break as well! Solutions will come, just think positive.

Good News for Myeloma Patients

The bigger picture paints a brighter future for myeloma patients, with many very promising new treatments and longer remissions happening.

However, a patient’s day-to-day reality can still be challenging. Getting access to the treatment you need might be difficult, side effects (such as an infection) may require attention, and all other challenges may be quite disheartening at times.

When faced with these challenges, talking to your doctor, getting a second opinion, and participating in joint decision-making can be very helpful and can help alleviate stress.

Quality of life has increasingly become the focus, not just extending remission. Longer remissions are wonderful, but make sure that treatment side effects are also acceptable and manageable. Take the time to discuss these matters with your doctor, family, and friends as needed.

Always remember that you are not alone in your journey, and that the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) is always ready to help.

Create Your Own Stress-Reducing Bubble

Summer days provide space to re-energize and focus on thinking about the future—take a break to rebuild your strength and resilience. Whether problem-solving, adding joy to your life, or simply relaxing and dreaming—do what works best for you.

Ikaria teaches us that life is not just about schedules and budgets. Take some time to breathe, read a book, sit in the garden, get together with family and friends, or do whatever relaxes you. Everyone deserves a much-needed break to refocus on life.

Celebrate the 4th of July with family and friends and have a wonderful one!

Image of Dr. Brian G.M. DurieProfessor of Medicine, Hematologist/Oncologist, and Honoree MD at the University of Brussels, Dr. Brian G.M. Durie is a co-founder of the IMF and a member of the IMF Board of Directors.


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