Remembering Arnold Goodman
Published: Jul 30, 2014 12:33 pm
The myeloma community has lost a courageous and inspiring soul.
Long-time Beacon columnist Dr. Arnold Goodman, known to most of his readers as just “Arnie,” passed away yesterday in the company of his family at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida.
Arnie had been a physician for two decades, practicing as an ear, nose, and throat specialist, prior to his diagnosis with multiple myeloma in the spring of 2006. He continued his medical practice for three years after his diagnosis, eventually deciding to stop work due to the physical demands of the disease and its treatment.
The particular variant of myeloma that afflicted Arnie was persistent. It did not take long for it to rear its head again after Arnie had undergone initial treatment with the older VAD chemotherapy regimen followed by a stem cell transplant.
The disease blinked just briefly when physicians tried to beat it back with Revlimid and dexamethasone, took a little bit of a respite when confronted with Velcade, and forced Arnie’s doctors to add Velcade back into the mix when they switched treatment back to Revlimid and dexamethasone after the single-agent Velcade therapy stopped doing its job.
Once the disease relapsed during the Revlimid-Velcade-dexamethasone therapy, Arnie was put on Pomalyst as part of a clinical trial, but the new drug barely elicited a response, and it was time to consider new options.
Eventually, Arnie underwent further treatment with various combinations of older and newer myeloma drugs, a second autologous stem cell transplant, an allogeneic (donor) stem cell transplant, and treatment with the potential new anti-myeloma therapy elotuzumab.
Yes, Arnie’s myeloma was persistent. But so was Arnie, who steadfastly refused to give in to his disease’s constant attempts to take him away from his family, friends, and community.
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Arnie selected “Arnie’s Rebounding World” as the title for his Beacon column. The title reflects both the persistence of the myeloma Arnie was fighting and the persistence of Arnie himself.
Arnie’s started writing “Arnie’s Rebounding World” five years after his diagnosis, in the spring of 2011. He would go on to chronicle his myeloma journey in the span of almost 40 columns for The Beacon. His last column, published just three weeks ago, carried a title that now has much greater meaning than originally intended: “Myeloma On The Edge.”
In his columns, Arnie openly shared the ups and downs of his myeloma journey. He did so, however, in a way that made clear his intention was to help others rather than draw sympathy.
His writing inspired Beacon readers not just because it clearly reflected Arnie’s courage and persistence, but also because it helped those less familiar with myeloma think through and better understand their disease and treatment options.
As fellow Beacon columnist Sean Murray noted after learning of Arnie’s passing, “His valiant battle against unrelenting high-risk multiple myeloma has made a deep and lasting impact on my life, and no doubt on the lives of many others … His reflections were honest and sobering. Although we never met face-to-face, I often found myself rooting for his recovery, cheering for his victories, saddened by the setbacks.”
Pat Killingsworth, the Beacon's first patient columnist, added "Arnie was quick to help others in the myeloma community, but what gets lost among the accolades is: Arnie was a really great guy! Never pretentious, I always felt comfortable around him. He loved his family and friends, and his family and friends loved him."
It may surprise many of the Beacon’s readers to learn that Arnie was a son of the Deep South, having been born 56 years ago in central Louisiana. He grew up, however, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and, after completing his college education and medical training in different parts of the country, he eventually made his way back to Florida, settling in Tampa to work and raise his family.
Arnie’s columns for The Beacon were just one aspect of his generous service to the myeloma community. After Arnie retired, for example, he and his family organized annual “Paddle for the Cure” races in the Tampa area that have raised more than $200,000 for myeloma research.
Arnie is survived by his wife Merle and two children, Sam and Dori, his parents, and his two sisters.
Arnie’s obituary is available online, and his funeral service will be held tomorrow (July 31) at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time at Congregation Rodeph Sholom, 2713 Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa.
Reflections on Arnie’s passing and the contributions he made to the myeloma community can be found in this Beacon forum thread and in the comments on this Beacon Facebook posting from yesterday and on this Facebook posting today.
The Argentinian poet Antonio Porchia once wrote, “One lives in the hope of becoming a memory.” If, in turn, a person’s life is measured by how many memories they leave behind after their passing, then Arnie led a very full life indeed.
Thank you, Arnie. And Godspeed.