This was going to be a column about the June elections and deadlines for campaign letters to the editor.

It still is. But now it’s about cancer, too.

Two weeks ago, our staff writer Randy Billings found out the nagging pain he had in his chest was caused by lymphoma. In an instant, Randy’s life changed, just as it does for anyone diagnosed with cancer.

But as he came to grips with the challenges he will face, Randy also realized that as a writer, he has a unique opportunity to share his experience.

So starting this week, in addition to continuing as much of his coverage of South Portland and the Portland city schools that his health will allow, Randy will be blogging about his treatment, the emotional, physical and psychological ups and downs, and the day-to-day skirmishes in his battle against cancer.

His blog, which we called “Pub Fiction” when it was introduced a year ago, was originally conceived as a home for Randy’s satirical musings, named with a nod toward his interests in Irish music and beer. We described it as a “creative, and sometimes poetic, take on life, current events and the paradox of being human.”

You’ll still find it with that name and description in the Blogs section of our website, because we’re confident Randy’s cancer journal is a temporary detour – sort of an unplanned visit to “Pub Nonfiction” – that will just generate a different kind of poetry and paradox.

•  •  •

There are about four weeks until Election Day. While the gubernatorial primaries are capturing most of the attention from statewide media, here at The Forecaster our sights are on the decisions voters will be making that have more immediate impact close to home: elections for seats on councils and school boards, and a few local referendums.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be publishing roundups on the races, profiles of the candidates and summaries of the ballot questions.

We’ll undoubtedly be publishing quite a few of your letters, too.

We’ve been receiving and publishing letters on behalf of this year’s candidates and issues for several weeks, and will continue to do so through our print editions of May 26-28. That means our print editions of June 2-4 will be free of campaign-related letters, with the exception of those that correct or respond to claims in specific, previously published letters. It also means the deadline for election-related letters is noon, Monday, May 24.

Let me emphasize: election-related letters must be received, preferably via e-mail to [email protected], no later than noon on May 24.

As I’ve explained in past columns, the “no last-minute letters” policy levels the playing field. It prevents any particular candidate or letter writer from strategically getting in the last word – or worse, from making a false statement that can’t be corrected in print before the election.

Keep in mind that The Forecaster has a 250-word limit for letters in print. So please keep your comments, endorsements and arguments succinct and on topic.

But remember, too, that you can respond to a published letter at any time – right up to Election Day – by posting a comment on our website. There’s no restriction on length for the Web, but we monitor comments and remove those we believe are offensive, untrue or libelous.

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Mo Mehlsak is editor of The Forecaster. He can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 107 or [email protected]. You can also follow Mo @mmehlsak on Twitter.