So, here I am on this journey called cancer.

Looking at it now, I feel like it began with me being thrown in the back of a car, blindfolded and then dropped on a back road in the middle of nowhere (which, given where we live, and if I’m going to be honest with you, could actually be just a couple of miles from our house), and told to find my way. Not my way home, mind you, but find my way to the next thing that happens. Get on that cancer path and go, mister.

I was allowed to take the blindfold off, so I can at least look for guideposts. Since I have no idea what I’m doing, let alone where I’m going, useful guideposts can be few are far between.

I suppose that “the next thing that happens” is generally some special moment in time, some event that has an anniversary or something else special about it, and I get to check it off the list of things I wasn’t sure I was going to live to see.

I was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma in September, so the first big thing I wondered about would be whether I would see Christmas that year. This was very early on, obviously, yet to this day I have never been given a prognosis, nor do I want one. Still, it became quickly apparent that we were talking months, years even, rather than weeks.

It’s been just about 2½ years now, and Sheri and I are pretty happy about that. We’ve had three Christmases together, and plenty of birthdays for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. We saw our oldest grandson, Jacob, graduate from high school. Well, we didn’t actually see him. I was going through a period where I was really too sick to travel, but at least we celebrated it, and there were pictures.

Sheri and I have had all that time together, to enjoy each others company and help each other over the rough bits, not the least of which was her current broken leg/ankle/sprained knee adventure.

And I was able to reunite (by phone) with a person who has been my friend longer than anyone currently in my life. That’s Peters, whom I’ve mentioned before. At one time Peters was not his real name, it was his radio/TV name. But I guess he had it changed at some point in the 20 years we were out of touch and now it is his real name so I can’t really give him a cool pseudonym like Walter or Sheila or Wanda June or Hank.

We met when he was doing news and I was the nighttime disc jockey at a small radio station in New York’s Fingerlakes. We stayed in touch, no matter where life took us, for 20 years, then… we didn’t. And now we do again. I’m glad I was around for that to happen.

He’s currently head of my Greater Boise, Idaho, area fan club. Besides him and his wife Bonnie (that is her real name), I’m not sure how many people that entails, exactly, but I have a feeling he isn’t going to go broke spending money on postage to distribute the club newsletter.

I suppose you’re probably wondering what’s got me thinking about all this, since it isn’t really a very cheery subject, or is it? Discuss.

Well, on April 6, I will have been in this country for 53 years. Fifty-three years. We arrived from Scotland on a Saturday morning at New York’s principal airport, when it was still named for the Idlewild Beach Golf Course that it displaced.

At first the anniversary was a big thing and I kept track, always aware when the date was approaching. Somewhere in the purple haze that was the early 1980s of my life, I stopped caring about it. I was here to stay and I’d been in America longer than I’d been in Scotland. Those seemed like the only good reasons to keep track.

So, my cancer journey continues, and we’ll continue to make check marks on the way. Though I’ve never asked, “Why me?”, no matter where we were in the journey, I would be lyin’ if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind: Would I have cancer if we had stayed in Scotland? But that’s quickly followed by, “Who cares?”

What I have is beyond my ability to express gratitude for, so what does it matter that I’ve also picked up a crappy little disease?

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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