A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at
the South Pole
by Dr. Jerri Nielson with Maryann Vollers
Reviewed January 31, 2002.
Hyperion, 2001. 362 pages.
This book tells the story of Dr. Jerri Nielsen, who volunteered to
be the only doctor “wintering over” at the South Pole research station,
cut off from the rest of the world for eight months, except by e-mail and
radio contact. During that time, she discovered that she had a lump
in her breast. With the help of a video link-up, she performed a
biopsy on herself and learned that she indeed had cancer. A daring
air drop brought her medicine for chemotherapy. She held on, still
performing her job, until at last the weather was clear to bring her out.
Most of this book was about life at the South Pole--a very different
life than that of the rest of the world. There is a sad subtext.
Dr. Nielsen had been recently divorced from an emotionally abusive and
controlling husband. He had totally alienated her three children
from her and hadn’t let them have any contact with her even after she was
diagnosed with cancer. This was partly why she went to the South
Pole to start a new life. She hopes that somehow this book will reach
her children with the message that she still loves them.
This was an interesting book, but somehow didn’t capture my imagination
as much as some of the others. Still, it’s definitely worth reading,
at least if you can find it at a library.
Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.
All rights reserved.
-top of page-