I am a 35 year old Canadian who was born in Kenya as an Israeli citizen to parents from Poland and spent most of my adult life living in East Asia while travelling the world. Seven years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Initially it didn’t bother me that much, my symptoms didn’t really impact my life and I believed that I could continue living as though nothing had happened. But they don’t call this disease degenerative for nothing, over time my symptoms progressed to the point where I felt the need to take action to better manage this disease and prevent further decline. I moved back to Canada, giving up a promising career in China, to not only take better care of my health but also find a way to get involved in some of the research being done.
At first I didn’t really know where to turn. No one I knew had it, nor had I even heard of anyone with it outside of Muhammed Ali and Michael J. Fox. I remembered a video of Ali lighting the torch at the Olympic Games in Atlanta and seeing his quivering hands as he lit that giant flame. Most people probably look at that moment as a defiant act of courage from this great man who had conquered the world and not let anything stop him from getting what he wanted out of life, not Joe Frazier, not the United States government, and not Parkinson’s disease. But what I now saw when I looked back at that was the future I was doomed to live, hands trembling, frozen expression on my face, barely able to walk properly, probably reliant on a myriad of different pills just to make an appearance.
So, where to go? Who to talk to? At any other time in history the best I would have been able to do is travel for miles to the nearest specialist (or witch doctor) and rely solely on whatever ill-informed advice he or she would have had for me. But, we live in remarkable times and I soon realized I had more resources at my disposal than any king or emperor had ever dreamed.
To the internet I went where I found people all over the world working diligently to fix what was ailing me – patients and physicians and researchers in seemingly every corner of the world, each with their own story to tell and advice to give. And with email addresses to boot! So I began reaching out to people, telling my story, and asking them if they would tell me theirs.
I have since toured many of the top research labs in the world and met with hundreds of the best physicians and scientists on the planet. These men and women have given me hope that soon enough we will have more effective treatments for this and other diseases. This journey has also sparked a curiosity in me for the future of humanity as well as a belief that we are progressing towards a more enlightened and hospitable tomorrow. That spark became the impetus for starting Tomorrow Edition, my attempt to spread a little excitement and understanding for all that the future has in store.
– Benjamin Stecher