The time had come. I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I was going on Zoom.

I was probably the last person in the free world to get on the platform when I joined a meeting Friday morning.

As the world has gone largely virtual this past year, I’ve embraced online shopping and food delivery and adopted other necessary habits. But something about Zoom just didn’t sit well with me. Early in the pandemic, I’d read a number of articles about security breaches and data collection that gave me pause.

I’m in a program called Survivors Teaching Students. We go into college classrooms and speak with students pursuing health care careers about ovarian cancer. We talk about the deadly disease’s symptoms and statistics and share our own stories. Members of our chapter have presented locally at schools including Lorain County Community College and Cleveland State University and some have traveled as far as Zanesville and rural western Pennsylvania.

But the pandemic put a halt to our travels last spring. We didn’t do any presentations for a while, but eventually the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance OK’d making the program virtual. The students were attending classes online anyway, so we needed an alternative to in-person presentations. I resisted for a year, but I gave in to support the cause.

I had planned to Zoom with another presenter at her office so she could show me the ropes. But I practiced beforehand and told her I felt comfortable Zooming from home.

Our presentation was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., so I joined the meeting around 10:45 to say hello to the other presenters and make sure everything was working. All was well. I could see and hear Peggy and Joanne, the other presenters, and Kelly, the instructor, and they could see me. I learned shortly, though, that they could not hear me.

The three of them started suggesting I do all the things I’d already tried to unmute myself. I told them that, but of course they couldn’t hear me. Fortunately, I found a way to get my sound on and I could be seen and heard at last.

Then my Chromebook shut itself off.

It has done that occasionally, although never at a worse time. Let’s just say it’s a good thing the others couldn’t hear me at that moment. But my Chromebook came back on before the presentation started. Ready to go.

Except now my camera wasn’t working. I could see the other women when they spoke, but they couldn’t see me. Finally, a kind but frustrated Peggy said “I love you, Molly, but it’s more important that we hear you than see you.” True, but I had put on real clothes and makeup for this!

So I shared my story sight unseen. It was weird because I didn’t know how many people I was talking to or whether they were even paying attention. Getting a reaction was impossible because everyone else had muted themselves.

But I told my story and that was the point. I’ll get on Zoom again. Clearly, I need the practice.

Molly Callahan is a writer and editor from Rocky River.

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