Join 3,550 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Past the Point of Safe Return
June 24, 2009 3:36 PM   Subscribe

In 1999, Dr. Jerri Nielsen was the only doctor in the winterover crew at the South Pole Station in Antarctica. While there, she discovered and treated her own breast cancer until she could be airlifted out. She died yesterday of breast cancer at age 57.

Chemotherapy drugs were airdropped in July of '99, and with the help of specialists (via satellite) and fellow winterover crew members, who helped her biopsy her lump and administer chemotherapy, she began treatment as best she could. She was airlifted out at the earliest possible opportunity (it was only 58 degrees below zero). She wrote a book about her experience.
posted by rtha (55 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
.
posted by rtha at 3:36 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by xingcat at 3:38 PM on June 24, 2009


Reminds me of a real-life Stephen Maturin operating on himself while at sea, without anesthetic, to extract a musket ball from underneath his own rib.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:40 PM on June 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


.
posted by lobstah at 3:47 PM on June 24, 2009


"Everyone has to get something. Some people are ugly, some people are stupid. I get cancer,'' she said at lecture in Denver.

.
posted by peep at 3:51 PM on June 24, 2009


wow, it sounds like she was a really amazing woman. thru her own bravery and the amazing help of others she was able to add another 10 years to her life. it sounds like she embraced them.

let that be a lesson to us all.



.
posted by supermedusa at 3:52 PM on June 24, 2009


from the first link: A machinist helped her with her IV and test slides, and a welder helped with chemotherapy.

wow. just. wow. it must have taken a lot to suck the life out of that woman.

.
posted by msconduct at 3:57 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 3:57 PM on June 24, 2009


.

I remember hearing about her diagnosis and treatment, I can't believe it was 10 years ago now. What an incredible human being.
posted by hnnrs at 4:04 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by yeloson at 4:11 PM on June 24, 2009


Her book is amazing. She was an amazing woman.
posted by rtha at 4:12 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by dbiedny at 4:12 PM on June 24, 2009


Wow, I remember her story from way back when. She was badass and I'm sorry to see that the big C beat her in the end.

RIP, Dr. Nielsen.
posted by ooga_booga at 4:21 PM on June 24, 2009


What a remarkable woman.
posted by headspace at 4:22 PM on June 24, 2009


Cancer sucks.
posted by The World Famous at 4:26 PM on June 24, 2009


Cancer fucking sucks.

.
posted by msali at 4:49 PM on June 24, 2009


This is one of those stories that you just never forget.

.
posted by contrariwise at 4:53 PM on June 24, 2009


But the cancer is part of me. It's given my life color and texture. Everyone has to get something. Some people are ugly, some people are stupid. I get cancer

Wow, you don't see no BS acceptance of tough circumstance like that very often. Sounds like a cool person. RIP, Doc.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:53 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by humannaire at 5:00 PM on June 24, 2009


Who are these people who inspire me so? Whose story read so well when told?

It's as if there is a little legend inside all of us, always building while we are busy doing being.

I live my life everyday to do the best job I can at being here, at being my part of everything.

And when I read stories like this? That little piece of legend insides swells so I want to cry!
posted by humannaire at 5:06 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


She was tough as nails. Here's to her.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:08 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by kjs4 at 5:10 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by languagehat at 5:27 PM on June 24, 2009


'
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:36 PM on June 24, 2009


I wasn't going to . because I hadn't paid attention to her story at the time.

They played an interview clip with her on NPR as I was driving home.

.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:46 PM on June 24, 2009



posted by FritoKAL at 5:52 PM on June 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


I remember hearing about this and admiring her courage.
Fuck cancer.
.
posted by Heretic at 6:06 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by OolooKitty at 6:11 PM on June 24, 2009


What a brave and strong soul.

.
posted by lord_wolf at 6:25 PM on June 24, 2009


She ain't had no quit in her... Here's to the explorers and the field scientists and the crazies and the badass motherfuckers.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:46 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by bentley at 6:53 PM on June 24, 2009


I read her book. Beyond the medical drama, it was a great insight into the world of scientists ("polies") wintering over at the SouthPole.

.
posted by intermod at 6:54 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by Hobgoblin at 6:57 PM on June 24, 2009


.


Fuck cancer.
posted by mogget at 7:03 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by liza at 7:33 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by futureisunwritten at 7:45 PM on June 24, 2009


.

To my sister and other survivors: This was only the way her fight ended. Please don't assume your cancer will come back, too. Keep fighting. Fuck cancer.
posted by Brody's chum at 7:46 PM on June 24, 2009


What a kickass woman. Thanks for posting this, rtha.

.
posted by arachnid at 7:49 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by Songdog at 8:05 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by popechunk at 8:51 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by desuetude at 10:05 PM on June 24, 2009


.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:45 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:55 PM on June 24, 2009


!
posted by atrazine at 11:42 PM on June 24, 2009


Wow. I need to pick up that book.

.
posted by lullaby at 12:14 AM on June 25, 2009


I remember reading about this in 1999 and being amazed. I always wondered what happened to her. Fuck cancer indeed.
posted by bendy at 12:30 AM on June 25, 2009


I was dx'd for the first time that same year. Dr. Neilsen's story literally kept me going. She inspired me to put my feet on the floor every morning and go do what I had to do to stay alive -- thank you, Jerri. I took a lot of comfort over not hearing too much about her in the intervening years, happy she was off somewhere, living her life. She's gone, I'm still here, and yeah, I'm fine, but it's always lurking. The term "survivor" is terribly misleading. If you have a "survivor" in your life, please remember, no matter how great they're doing or how good they look, inside, it's there, a memory and a possibility.
posted by thinkpiece at 3:35 AM on June 25, 2009


.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:09 AM on June 25, 2009


.
posted by limeonaire at 6:09 AM on June 25, 2009


God damn.

.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:53 AM on June 25, 2009


.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:17 AM on June 25, 2009


.
posted by Quietgal at 7:18 AM on June 25, 2009


As a cancer survivor, her story has always amazed me. How brave she had to be to save herself.
.
posted by ahdeeda at 12:39 PM on June 25, 2009


.
posted by Tesseractive at 7:34 PM on June 25, 2009


.

Ten years. I wish it had been forty.
posted by pointless_incessant_barking at 9:33 PM on June 25, 2009


« Older Nice people take drugs...  |  200 Dick Tracy Characters... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments