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Body and Soul

Posted 2/10/2013

Posted in

  Thinking about what to write today, I have spent some time looking at one of my favorite breast cancer websites, Living Beyond Breast Cancer ( They have excellent patient education materials, support terrific conferences, generally maintain a wise and sane and very helpful website for women with all stages of breast cancer. I especially have appreciated their resources for women with metastatic/advanced disease. So many sites seem to pretend that never happens, and women end up feeling even more isolated than they otherwise might.

  Today, I came across something on their site called Body and Soul; it seems to be a book of marvelous photographs and short statements/interviews with a number of women with breast cancer. This one is Jerri Nielsen, the woman who stunned the world in 1999 when she performed her own breast cancer surgery while working at an isolated South Pole research station. It was winter; it was impossible to leave, and she knew the surgery had to happen. I cannot even imagine how she did it. Here is that brief story (there is also a wondderful photograph that I am unable to post here) and a link to see more;


In 1999, the world watched as Jerri Nielsen, the only physician at an isolated South Pole research station, diagnosed and then directed her own breast cancer operation. Since leaving the Pole station in October of that year, she has lived by the ocean. In her book, Ice Bound, she writes, “There are times when the ocean is calm and flat as glass, and the horizon is empty for miles in every direction. Those are the times I feel at home again, and remember Antarctica.”
      Today, Jerri is living the dream of her life. She travels the world as a public speaker. She has a profound effect on women who are afraid. Her talks, and her book, instill courage. She says the friendships she has developed with other women through her travels have been her greatest gift. “I truly understand how necessary women are to society today. Women are such a great support to each other.”


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