It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was sure I’d never get used to a year with a 20 in front of it— since I had lived in the 19s for 51 years.

I can’t tell you when New Year’s Eve went from meaning a great party, complete with next-day remorse and January resolutions, to meaning just another day, albeit one where my stuff all got a year older overnight.

Last week, I wrote that Christmas usually finds us looking back on Christmases past. I think New Year’s tend to make us look back at things in general. Right?

Sure, you can spend time considering specific New Year’s Eves and how much stupid stuff you may have crammed into one evening, but surely you wonder where the years went and remember some fondly, some not fondly.

Here’s a funny thing you might not have seen coming: There isn’t that big a difference, looking back, between the years since I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and the years before my diagnosis.

It ties in with something that I’ve been saying all along: I’m much more than a guy with cancer. The years I live are about way more than having cancer.

So when I look back, I think about friends, lost and living, each still an important part of my life; places visited and visits not taken because of health reasons; visits from family not completely driven by their concern for my health; our cat Kenzie whom we lost to intestinal disease and our cat Wolfie who already has added so much to our lives.

And what about my cancer, you ask? The treatment has changed a lot this year. I stopped taking the oral chemotherapy because it was making me ill; likewise the medicine that was helping repair the damage done by cancer to my bones. My blood work has shown wonderful results almost all year long.

My stomach ailment, though, is something else all together. It has gone from a mildly irritating pain in my intestinal area to really severe stomach pains and daily waves of nausea. I have spent many more hours feeling ill than I have feeling well.

I’ve tried treatments from methods suggested by my doctors, to holistic healing involving passing hands over my stomach, which had a basket full off bottled tinctures and things on it at the time, with a side trip to acupuncture.

Virtually every medicine I was taking at the beginning of the year has been changed to something else, all in an effort to fix my intestinal woes.

As the year winds to a close, I have hope that some of the latest changes have been successful. We are, obviously, I think, pretty guarded about our optimism, but there is some sense that the latest round of changes have had an impact. I still feel really sick in fits and starts, but they seem to be coming less often and are a little less severe when they do come.

As 2016 gets under way, I, again, have no New Year’s resolutions to tell you about. I remain convinced that anything worth doing is simply worth doing. Decreasing the amount of gluten in our diet, for example. At one time in our lives, we would have put it on a list and likely postponed it until the next time we made a list revolving around our health. Now, we’re just doing it. Not full scale yet, but baby steps. We’re beginning with the obvious, even as we still research what the obvious might be, and we’ll go from there. That’s a new approach for us.

Like a lot of things we do, the decision about eating gluten is only tangentially tied to my having cancer — eating healthier can only help.

We do wish you a Happy New Year. May you meet your challenges and successes with the same spirit and may you grow stronger because of them.

Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog,

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