Cyberspace and Cancer
I have probably benefited from the birth of the Internet more than anyone else in the world. I realize that is a pretty dramatic (and somewhat self-centered) statement. I swear it is true though.
I know cancer has ruined many millions of lives, but I swear to you that it has saved mine. Another dramatic statement, but this one is true as well. Listen.
Four years ago, I was a mixed up Canadian boy fumbling my way through the American South. I was in a bad relationship and many years of disappointments were taking their toll of my spirit. I was becoming someone that I did not like, one of those people that hardly anyone likes. Weeks before I was due to come home, I met a girl that was very unique and completely opposite of me in many different ways. Now as a Canadian, I have vowed to never fall in love with an American. But this girl was so unique and so beautiful that I could not help be attracted to her.
Unfortunately time pulled me away before I could truly get to know her and I was soon back in Canada. I broke up with my former girlfriend and exchanged a few letters with this American girl. (Remember letters? They are pieces of paper, people used to "write" on and send to each other through the "mail.") Now, we hardly knew one another so as these letters were fairly infrequent and the relationship seemed to be fading into a beautiful memory of the South. Email was just being born into the public realm and it was a perfect way to keep up with this girl at a leisurely pace without much effort.
We exchanged emails now and again, but by February of the next year, that was about all that was left of our friendship. Then, one day, I got the email that I can see now as being the single most important piece of correspondence I will ever receive. No, it was not from the girl but from her best friend. It was a brief email asking for prayers as my American beauty had gotten cancer.
I remember crying and feeling absolutely sick inside. It was not that I knew her so well as it was such a terrible thing to happen to a person that was so obviously beautiful inside. Somehow, through a chain of events that I am still not quite certain about, I found myself on a plane Southward. My wonderful aunt and uncle, who are friends of her parents, had paid for my ticket in an effort to cheer her up after the surgery that was now scheduled in hopes of removing the cancer.
I soon arrived in the middle of Alabama, at her parents house, bleary-eyed and sweaty from the long, cramped plane ride. There she was, pale and drugged up, a tube coming from her neck. Even at her most vulnerable, she looked lovely.
I ended up staying a month, watching her get strong again and listening as the doctors announced that they seemed to have removed all the cancer. I fell in love with her over those thirty days. A little bit deeper with every cellular battle that was being won inside her. I have been in love since and I will never love another.
After I returned home in Canada, our email writing increased to three or four a day -- a library of binders full of thoughts, tears, arguments and love. Without those emails, we wouldn't be together today, I am sure of that -- the distance was just too vast to be spanned by letters or phone calls.
So you see why there are days when I can think that the Internet has been created solely for our purpose. There are days when I think of cancer and smile. Without the technology and the illness, I would have continued on the sad path I was on alone. Now, I have a partner and a much brighter path to tread. The Internet and cancer saved my life.