No one has come right out and asked me what it feels like to have cancer. Whatever happened to inquiring minds want to know?

Wait… You don’t think it would be rude to ask me that, do you? Really? Wow. Well, thanks for being sensitive everyone. Far out.

But you have wondered, haven’t you? I mean, if for no other reason than you might be able to pick up tips on how you can avoid getting it. Right? In these days where social media is king, I can see a very interesting string developing. But count me out. I have no tips. One day I didn’t have it, and then I did. “Don’t take any wooden nickels” is a better tip than anything I could you give you about avoiding cancer.

In this column, I really try to write about me and my cancer; each person’s journey is so different. But I also know some bits are the same — the feeling of powerlessness, physical weakening, pain, fear, reliance on medicines. These things, and a lot more, are always with us, each day’s story is about how we live our lives. And it’s more than just cancer patients; we each have our demons to chase, battles to fight, fears to overcome, tears to shed. For me, though, right now, cancer is my elephant in the room, so that is what I’m writing about.

Since it would seem the whole inquisitive/interested/rude line has been blurred, maybe I should just ask myself how it feels for Jim Arnold to have cancer. You may have trouble believing this, but I’m kind of interested in what I have to say about it myself. That is why I write; for an audience of me, or of thousands, it makes me focus on the subject at hand. More than that, what I think I wanted to write often becomes what I was supposed to write, and I don’t always like the difference. I know. Creepy. I don’t get it either, but it’s why I can honestly tell you, with the written equivalent of looking you in the eye, that I’m as interested as you are to see what I have to say.

So, Jim Arnold, how do feel about having cancer? Well, what day is it? Did I get much sleep? How much pain am I dealing with today? Did my treatment plan call for taking my steroids today? What’s the reading on my denial-o-meter?

Don’t get me wrong. I feel crappy. I feel resentful. I feel angry. I feel betrayed. I feel lost. I feel scared. And despite an ever-growing number of people offering their support, prayers and love, there are times I feel pretty lonely.

Those things are in the mix, at one point or another, every day, along with all the other stuff involved in getting the malignant cells out of my bone marrow, putting them with the pile of manure I’ve cleared to find that pony, and getting on with facing the next life challenge.

I know I don’t talk much about being scared, probably because I don’t feel scared all that often.

There is no recovery in being scared; no path to remission; scared takes, it never gives. I focus on the support of my family and friends, in the gratitude I feel every day that I get to live the life that I live. That’s where the recovery is, with my slightly beaten up, beautiful smelling pony at the end of it.

I think that “scared” is the main reason I’m so determined to live one day a time. I can’t/won’t live scared all day, every day, especially since we aren’t far enough along in my treatment to know what, specifically, I have to fear. Multiple myeloma seems to have a fairly high remission rate overall, and there is some encouragement in that.

So, sure, there are times I feel scared, but they don’t last. Hey, wait a minute — I didn’t just sound like I had spunk, did I? I hate spunk. I’m just one person among millions who is trying to enjoy his days while co-existing with the knowledge that he is living many people’s worst nightmare.

Jim Arnold is a copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. He was born in Scotland and came to America with his parents in 1963, when he was 14 years old. He and his wife, Sheri, moved to Maine in 1998. He has two daughters, Jennifer and Alison.

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