So. I’m just sitting here thinking about having cancer.

For a while there, I could honestly say that wasn’t something I thought all that much about. But since my multiple myeloma has been active again, it’s something I find myself doing again. Mind you, there are times when the myeloma makes my bones hurt and it’s hard not to think about it. Likewise when I feel truly nauseous. But there are times, like now, when I simply wonder, “What’s THAT all about, Alfie?”

For example, would I have been better off, in the long run, not to have had the period we call remission, when the disease wasn’t visible in my blood work? That’s sort of a trick question, I think, because I was quite nauseous much of that time with stomach issues, so it wasn’t as if I was living large.

Still, having cancer is about a lot more than simply not feeling well. So would it have been better if we hadn’t had that “quiet” period? Good question.

I think for my friends and family it was a very good thing. It let them have some time off, kinda. When they knew it wasn’t there, causing further damage, that was a good thing

For me? I’m not really sure. I guess as I went to monthly appointment after monthly appointment and received glowing reports about how well I was doing, how terrific my blood work looked — during that time period, I think it was good.

I started to believe it might not come back, and that’s no one’s fault but my own, if fault is the right word. The logical, informed portion of my brain knew that wasn’t true, but a guy can hope, can’t he?

Anyway, here I am trying to remain positive … again. And I guess it’s no harder this time than the last. It is different, though. When a cure isn’t possible, having the cancer go away, at least for a while, becomes your wish. Now, I know that even that is something of a false hope. The next time it goes away, and I believe there will be a next time, I know I will be more cautious about getting caught up in the hype — enjoy it, yes, but don’t trust it to last.

One of the constants about cancer, I’ve found, is that, no matter what else, life goes on. Sheri and I are on a run of tough times right now. My cancer is back. She fell and broke her leg in three places. Our bathroom toilet isn’t working.

In the grand scheme of things, which of those would you pick to cause the most immediate distress? You betcha. No toilet. It has led to a number of schemes for us, all of which have given us new appreciation for modern toilets. As always, we manage, but it would be better if we didn’t have to.

It would be nice to given a free pass on all those sorts of little vagaries of life by saying, “But, I have cancer.” Or, “But I have… [whatever other difficult problem you find yourself facing.]” Of course, then you face the question of setting the standard. “I have cancer” is probably more deserving of a pass than “I have four overdue library books,” but is it more deserving than “I have chronic back pain”?

Like all of those types of things, it’s a fool’s game. Life is life and that’s all there is to it. If we take a look at our life — I mean, really look at the entirety of it — we’re going to find more good than bad, with a huge helping of “just OK” and some “not so bad” thrown in.

The difficult times doubtless seem to be larger in number because they take so long to pass, or at least that’s how it feels. Happiness, joy and all the good bits can be fleeting. It’s what makes it more important to hold on to them and really take your time with them.

And in the end, consider this: the song “Happy Days Are Here Again” was written in 1929, and first recorded in November of that same year, less than two months after the stock market crash that would lead to the Great Depression.

I’m just sayin’.

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,

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: