Dr. Jerri Nielsen, 47, a breast cancer survivor and author of “Ice Bound,” will visit Mercyhurst College and sign books during a wine and cheese reception from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Mercy Heritage Room on Friday, Oct. 3. The event is being hosted by Dr. William P. Garvey, Mercyhurst College president, on behalf of the American Cancer Society. For more information and to reserve a spot, please call the American Cancer Society at 866-5077.
Nielsen will be a celebrity walker in the fourth annual “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” walk sponsored by the Erie Unit of the American Cancer Society on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2003, at Presque Isle State Park.
The fund-raising event supports research efforts into breast cancer, which affects, in one year alone (2002), 211,000 women in the United States, of which 11,000 were from Pennsylvania. Each of them has her own story of devastation.
Nielsen’s self-discovery of a tumor in her breast in 1999 captivated the world because she was in the Antarctic on a one-year mission, unable to be airlifted for eight months because planes could not land in weather conditions that included days where it was minus 92 degrees.
By combining an extraordinary array of e-mail instructions and jury-rigged equipment, Nielsen performed a biopsy on herself with the assistance of a welder she trained to help her. She also videotaped the procedure, and sent computer images to doctors in the United States who diagnosed her as having an aggressive form of cancer.
While waiting out the winter, six crates of chemotherapy equipment and supplies were dropped down to Nielsen and she began chemotherapy to ensure her survival until her evacuation months later. Finally, the Air Force asked for volunteers to risk their lives on a flight to the South Pole to airlift Nielsen to safety.
Her cancer is now in remission. She has been heralded as “inspirational,” “amazing,” “incredibly funny” and “filled with a zest for life.” Her message is to seize life and live it to its fullest – a message that has a familiar ring to any woman of Mercyhurst who lives the college motto, Carpe Diem.
Copies of Nielsen’s book, “Ice Bound,” will be available for purchase and signing. Hard cover $23.95, paperback $14.95, or bring your own copy.