The Internet has become a bazaar of bargains, creative merchandise, and -- every once in awhile -- remarkable kindness.
So it was recently with the story of a nine-year-old Virginia boy, his malignant brain tumor, and an outpouring of compassion so swift and so great that it could only have happened with the help of the Internet's virtual marketplace.
The boy, David Dingman-Grover, was more than brave. He was defiant. He gave his tumor a name -- Frank, short for Frankenstein's monster, from Mary Shelley's novel and a parade of horror movies.
It was a monster?a growing mass almost 12 centimeters across inside David's brain. Undaunted, David dressed as Frankenstein's monster this past October, as he and his friends trooped door to door, begging Halloween treats.
And his parents, who are people of average means, were equally resourceful. Facing a 20% down payment on surgery costs that would top $100,000, David's mother and father turned to the eBay online commerce site, offering t-shirts and bumper stickers in return for donations. On each product was David's own slogan: "Frank must die!"
And die he did last month, after chemotherapy had reduced the growth in David's brain from a monster to the size of a peanut. A surgeon in Los Angeles was able to excise the tumor, and a biopsy revealed no remaining cancer.
Of course, brain tumors do not always die. All too often, like Frankenstein's monster, they arise again and kill -- which makes this twist all the more heartwarming:
As it happened, the doctors and the hospital decided to donate their services, and David's mother turned over the $20,000 raised on eBay to a charity that is helping other young cancer patients fight monstrous Franks of their own.