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Remembering Arnold Goodman

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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.

Photo of Dr. Arnold Goodman, monthly columnist at The Myeloma Beacon.
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40 Comments »

  • R said:

    Great Article and summary of a beautiful man.

    Thanks.

  • Michelle Gillet said:

    Thank you to the Beacon Staff for this very touching and extremely moving remembrance of a Great Myeloma Warrior. Together we WILL find a cure.

  • Stann said:

    I feel like I lost a friend. I was always happy to see an article with his happy beaming face at the top. I cannot believe he wrote such an articulate column only 3 weeks prior to passing. That must have taken much effort. What a nice, giving man. Condolences to the family. Stann

  • Denise H said:

    What a loss. Arnie was an inspiration. I guess he always will be, even though his earthly journey has ended.

  • Eric Hofacket said:

    It is hard to find the words for how I feel when I read news like this. I always look for the Beacon articles from those who are relapsed / refractory so I can learn from their battles to prepare for the day when I find myself in the same position. Arnold was one of those. I hope in the coming years we have more success stories and see less announcements about those who have lost their battles with myeloma.

  • Efra said:

    :(
    Thank you Arnie
    Shalom

  • stephen said:

    I am deeply sorry for Arnie's family for the loss of such a magnificent presence.

    I do not like this news. I do not like that Arnie, who represented the strength of will over the affects of mm, is no longer present in this life to tell me that it is possible to consciously push back this disease. This is selfish on my part, I know, but it is the truth.

    God be with your family, Arnie. Comfort them as you are able. Thank you for the strength I frequently took from your writing and I pray your peace is full of light and joy.

  • Jan Stafl MD said:

    Rest in peace, Arnie! Your contributions to MM patients worldwide in the last three years of your eight year battle with MM have been enormous, and much appreciated! The columns you have contributed to the Beacon have been expertly crafted, and very useful. This community will certainly miss you!

    I talked with Arnie in the last two years frequently by phone, and we exchanged many experiences and theories regarding our analogous journeys with MM. Similar to Arnie, I have now concluded my 33 year career as an OB/GYN due to recurrent disease, three years after diagnosis.

    My inspiration now is to study immunotherapeutic approaches to treating MM and other malignancies, both scientifically and personally. Arnie and I both agreed that these approaches, utilizing our own immune systems with the help of genetic engineering and other techniques, is the best hope for a real cure of multiple myeloma.

    But no matter how long we all have to live, we can resolve to live life to the fullest, in service to others, and with true gratitude for the many blessings we have. I truly believe that it is the quality, not quantity, of our lives that makes the greatest difference. Arnie, in many ways you have been a great inspiration to us all! Thank you for everything, Jan

  • Rebecca Babineau said:

    Rest in peace Arnie. My husband and I always got hope and inspiration in reading you columns. It always gave my husband the courage to keep fighting this horrible disease. Unfortunately my husband also lost his battle last Tuesday. I take comfort in knowing neither Arnie, my husband Ron, or all the others who have passed are no longer suffering. God has two very special angels watching down on all of us who are grieving and giving encouragement to those who are still fighting the fight. God bless you.

  • Brenda said:

    To Arnie's family, I am so sorry for your loss. Arnie was and will always be an inspiration to me and so many others. I loved reading his columns because they gave me a sense of how someone else with high risk disease was able to cope.

  • Gary Sullivan said:

    I don't think in my 63 years I have been so touched by a man I never met. Godspeed, Dr. Goodman. Thanks for encouraging and inspiring so many of us.

  • Ron Harvot said:

    I always looked forward to reading Arnie's columns. His determination and dogged persistence were/are inspirational. At some point I will likely relapse and face similar choices in my journey with this disease. I hope I can muster the same determination and courage that he has shown.

  • Rick Crow said:

    When I finally stumbled across the Myeloma Beacon a few months back, Arnie's article was one of the first ones that I read. I was so intrigued by his journey that I went back and read every one of his articles from the beginning. I will truly miss his insights into this disease that we all share. They gave me much hope in my own struggles to fight back and keep living. While his passing is tragic, his will to live and keep searching for another "rebound" is what I will think of when times get tough.

    Rest in peace, Arnie. I hope I face each of my challenges with the same strength and determination that you did. You and your articles will be missed. :(

  • Joe said:

    I once paid Arnie a compliment on one of his columns called Keeping it Real. I told him that if I was in a battle, I would want to be in a foxhole with him and everyone else on this website. I feel like part of me has died.

  • Suzanne said:

    I was so saddened to read of Arnie's passing. His Beacon articles were informative and thoughtful. I really admired his willingness to try new therapies and never give up. His wit and wisdom will be greatly missed.
    Shalom Dr. Goodman

  • Lou Ganim said:

    Dear Dr. Goodman,

    We will all miss you so much. Your fight against MM was inspirational to me as it was to many others I am sure. Our occasional exchanges over the past couple of years or so spoke to the fact that you were undaunted despite the nasty nature of your particular case. Even when you were put off by the repeating treatment failures,you kept at it. You never gave up. As I said once, you had one of the most difficult myeloma challenges, and you were tough and strong in the face of it. My thoughts are with your family.

  • Sue Trevathan said:

    Hearing this sad news, I feel I have lost a member of my family. When I was diagnosed in October 2013, I knew no one with this rare disease and felt very much alone. My PA recommended the Myeloma Beacon, and I happily came to know many of you through your columns and comments. Arnie was a true hero, always intent on telling it like it was, which was sobering, but also fearless and optimistic for his future. His columns were rich and thought-provoking. May his family find solace in knowing how much he meant to all of us. He will be greatly missed.

  • Lori Puente said:

    I'm very saddened to read this. I enjoyed his column very much. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

  • Nancy K said:

    I add my voice to the wailing chorus that is missing Arnie. I am one of the multitude of who never met Arnie, but will feel his loss deeply. He led by example and taught me a lot. Godspeed Arnie.

  • Kirsten said:

    This just makes me so sad. He wasn't ready to stop fighting and the choice was taken from him. This terrible disease.

  • marvin said:

    God bless Arnie's family, and Godspeed arnie, you will be missed.

  • Mike Burns said:

    "A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles." - Tim Cahill

    If the above quote is true, then Arnie's myeloma journey was a long and successful one. So many of us here in the Myeloma Beacon community consider him a friend, even without ever meeting him in person. His courage, determination, and honesty set high standards for the rest of us to try to follow.

    My heart goes out to Arnie's family.

    Thanks, Beacon staff, for a fine tribute to a good man.

  • Mike Burns said:

    Rebecca,

    I am very sorry to hear about your husband losing his battle with multiple myeloma on Tuesday. Thanks for taking the time to let us know this sad news. Please accept my condolences.

  • Nicole Racette said:

    Arnie has made a difference in so many lifes by writing his columns. Condolences to his family in this very difficult time and may you find some comfort in knowing this.

  • Thomas Palayoor said:

    Dear Merle:

    I am deeply saddened by the passing of your dear husband Arnie. I knew him through his column since my diagnosis. His steadfastness and persistence even in adverse circumstances were a source of inspiration and hope for me and many others. His incisive analysis of his disease in its various stages was very illuminating and educational. With hope and determination he confronted the disease; it was a lesson in courage and tenacity for all of us.

    My hearty condolences to you, Sam and Dori.

  • Thomas Shell said:

    Aloha Arnie.

    You were one of the inspirations for my becoming a Beacon writer. Thank you for sharing your journey and congratulations on a full life. I'll see you in the next chapter!

    Aloha
    Tom Shell

  • Joanne in Texas said:

    God bless him and his family.

  • Glenn said:

    I was so saddened to hear about Dr Arnie Goodman's passing this week due to multiple myeloma. I was diagnosed with myeloma in October 2011 and have found comfort in reading Arnie's columns these past few years. I felt that I personally knew Arnie and all of the other patients who write and share their experiences with us, and so I knew Arnie was encountering some difficulty lately. I'm just very sorry that he could not put up the good fight any longer and is with the Lord where he is no longer suffering with this disease.

    God Bless you Arnie and your family.
    Glenn

  • tiziano28 said:

    Does the word "courage" have any meaning yet after the death of such a man? Thank you Dr Goodman.

  • Maria said:

    I will miss him and his great column. He was a life force in helping many deal with this incredibly difficult disease, so many are battling. Thank you Arnie, you made many of my days brighter and hopeful.

  • John Allison said:

    I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach when I saw that Arnie had lost his battle with MM and passed away. I'm new to the disease and to the forum, but I had read everything Arnie had written. There was something both calming and inspiring in his columns; I thought he would live forever through sheer force of will. Sometimes we resort to trite phrases of condolence at times like this, but in Arnie's case, there is no danger of that. He really did touch people in a meaningful way - perhaps without even knowing how much he meant to the silent majority of visitors to this site. What a special man. Inspirational in every sense of the word. Fair winds and following seas, Arnie. My condolences to Dr. Goodman's family.

  • Nanette Goodman said:

    About 6 months ago, I compiled Arnie's columns into a book for Merle, Sam, Dori, my parents and my sister. (I called it Arnie's Rebounding World Volume 1 to allow for additional years of posts). I asked him if it should be just his columns or if I should include the comments too. Without hesitation he said. "Of course include the comments. It's all about the comments."

    I feel like Arnie drew a lot of strength by being able to share his experience (both medical and emotional) with people who could really understand and benefit from his experience. For him, it was a two-way street.

    We are really moved by your reflections and kind words. The whole family has read them and they will, of course, be included in the final version of the book.

    With many thanks, Arnie's sister

  • Nancy Shamanna said:

    Dear Nanette, I hope that the wonderful memories you have of your brother Arnie help to console you and your family now. He was really appreciated by so many as you can see by the many comments on his columns and on this article. He also helped us to set up a 'Book Club' by suggesting many titles. The Beacon put up a poll in June to choose the first books read, and the one with the most votes was suggested by Arnie, 'The Emperor of All Maladies'. Am also currently reading 'The Anatomy of Hope' by J. Groopman, an oncologist who was interested in how to advise patients psychologically, which was another suggestion from Arnie. Thanks so much for sharing about your brother.

  • asaryden said:

    I´m so very sad to hear this. As others have said, I felt I knew him though we never met. I also felt we had the same view on many topics, maybe because we both have/had high risk MM. We had our allogeneic transplants at the same time almost two years ago. He always had an encouraging word for me in the comment section. It´s a huge loss for his family, but also for us in the MM community.

  • Marcia K said:

    I am just so saddened by the news of the passing of Dr. Arnold Goodman. His training and experience as a physician brought great insight into his articles. My experience as a MM patient and my understanding of the progression of this disease has been significantly improved due to his writings. He passed along to us all the various levels of what had occurred during his travels in his battle with MM, as well as the impact the treatments had on all sides of his life. Thank you for all of that help. I loved his scientific and logical thinking.

    But Arnie was, first and foremost, dedicated to his family. He wanted to spend more time with his family. I am so sorry that he was not able to do what he wanted. I want nothing more than to watch my son grow up, and to personally interact with him and his future. Who would not want the same thing?

    I am glad that he is no longer suffering. I pray that our Father keeps Arnie's family in His care and helps them to accept the loss of their husband and father.

    Shalom, Dr. Arnold Goodman. You will be missed by those who are still here.

  • Sylvia B said:

    Dr. Goodman gave so much of himself to help others understand and deal with mm. He was a strong force for good. My sympathy to his family at this time.
    Sylvia B.

  • Beth M said:

    I'll never forget the kindness of Dr. Arnie Goodman when he spoke with me on the telephone after my November 2011 diagnosis. Being from the Tampa Bay area, he shared with me some of his experiences that helped me make some treatment decisions for myself. I am indebted to him for reaching out to me. I have consistently read Arnie's articles and learned so much. This wonderful man will be missed in the myeloma community. I pray that his family finds solace.
    Beth M.

  • Gary said:

    Warrior, Courageous, Tenacious, Unpretentious, Resilient, Kind

    THANK YOU Arnie for giving so much back to so many. As a non-mm patient you have taught me plenty.

    May the loving arms of God be wrapped around you.

  • Thomas said:

    Dr. Goodman has been very inspirating to the myeloma community. I have read every of his great written columns - often 3 or 4 times. That myeloma overwhelmed this remarkable man makes me angry and very, very sad. That such an outstanding fighter has only 5 years after diagnosis, is also bad news. We - I personally - will remember and miss a man, that I never knew personally, because I live in Germany. What a huge loss!!!

  • Andrew Banks said:

    Rest in Peace Dr. G!