In the continuous stream of NPR that is my life, I just learned that Jerri Nielson died of breast cancer. Dr. Nielson wrote a book I’ve read more than once, and that has now become the final solidification of my vow not to lend out well-loved books.
Her book, ICE BOUND: a Doctor's Incredible Battle For Survival at the South Pole, co-written with Maryanne Vollers, fit every criteria I have for a great read: engrossing plot (which I remember in more detail than usual, considering I read it years and years ago) writing which flows (just read the first page on Amazon,) gotta-find-outness (for goodness sake, she discovers she has breast cancer while in Antarctica,) and all sorts of juicy subplots (family troubles, check; intriguing setting which is a story in itself, check; side characters who you deeply care about, check; heroics large and small, check, check, check.
Nielson was hired for one year at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station on Antarctica, a place where a year brings one sunrise and one sunset. It remains night for the entire winter; you can’t leave during this weather. “Winterover” crews are there for the duration, dependent only on each other.
Saying it’s cold is like saying ants are small.
Nielsen must perform a biopsy on herself after finding a lump in her breast. And that is just the beginning of this amazing tale of medical courage and adventure. I’ve already sent for two copies from Amazon—one for me, and one for lending. I know no better way to honor this woman, than by re-reading her memoir.
The best of authors become part of the book family who whom keep you going. They offer solace, fun, interest, company, adventure, insight, escape, and flashes of brilliance. Dr. Jerri Nielson felt like one of those friends.
Rest in peace, Jerri.
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