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Ice Bound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,921 ratings  ·  377 reviews
During the winter of 1999, Dr. Jerri Nielsen, the only physician on a staff of forty-one people, discovered a lump in her breast. Consulting via satellite e-mail with doctors in the United States, she was forced to perform a biopsy and treat herself with chemotherapy in order to ensure that she could survive until conditions permitted her rescue. She was eventually rescued ...more
Paperback, 377 pages
Published January 16th 2002 by Miramax Books (first published 1996)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  2,921 ratings  ·  377 reviews

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Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This was one of my favorite books ever. I found the most interesting part to be the description of what they do at the South Pole to stay sane and keep themselves amused. How much they look forward to receiving 'freshies' (fresh fruit and veggies) from the next they form bonds with each they survive the long dar cold cut-off they are from the world, yet have e-mail access....the story about the Doctor finding the lump doesn't even come about until abo ...more
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-or-memoir
Terrific read! Why did I leave it on my shelf unread all these years!!?? Dr. Jerri Nielson loves a good adventure, is tiring of the bureaucracies of the practice of medicine and has been beaten down by a disastrous marriage & the loss of her children. She sees an ad seeking a physician for a year assignment at the South Pole and before ya know it, she is packing for what will be a life-changing period in her life ( good and bad). You may remember her. There was a lot of publicity about her disco ...more
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Margie by: Robyn
Twelve years ago Jerri Nielsen wintered over at Antarctica, discovered a lump in her breast, and had to be airlifted out.
Eleven years ago she published a book about the experience, and signed the copy I have.
Three years ago she died.

Her story is tremendously compelling, and much of it is well-written. The book alternates between narrative and emails between Dr. Nielsen and her family and doctors. The emails show that Dr. Nielsen was a good writer. The narrative parts seem more like the ghostwri
As of the time covered by this book, 1999, only 1,200 humans had ever lived at the geographic South Pole, the center of Antarctica and the very bottom of the world. Even fewer had "wintered," there, hunkering down to survive from Feb-October when the temps could get to minus 100 and pitch darkness blankets the land and sky. The people who volunteer to take on the assignment -- free-spirits who nonetheless pull together in a jam -- comprise an almost cult-like exclusive band, self-dubbed "Polies. ...more
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although the author felt almost possessed to tell her side of the bitter divorce and her estrangement from her children, I felt that it didn’t impact the story and could have easily been edited out. I know she was saying that this history was one of the reasons she choose to go to to the South Pole and that ultimately the family dynamics were almost as traumatic for her as the breast cancer, but without this information, it would have been just as intriguing for me.

My favorite part was reading a
♥ Marlene♥
Finished it last night Feb. 26.

Overall it was interesting, I liked to learn a bit more about how they lived there but after a while it became repetitive, all the talk about what they did daily, how much they loved each other and how much better they are than people not on the ice. (that was what I felt)

The first half of the book is about how they live there and just a little part is about the cancer.

Did she fall in love with a married man? was I the only one who noticed that? I do know when you
Oct 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Though I don't particularly like her writing style, this woman had a pretty incredible experience. She wintered over at the South Pole, and had to diagnose and treat herself for breast cancer. It was a little taxing at times to read through a voice so eager to sound nonchalantly adventurous and poetic. But, despite that it's a book that provides some interesting food for thought.
Jun 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Nonfiction fans, Medical professionals, Adventure lovers, Travel lovers
Recommended to Brittany by: My mom
Shelves: nonfiction
How I Came To Read This Book: My mom owned it.

The Plot: Jerri Nielsen is reeling from a messy divorce and overall estrangement from her family. She takes a doctor's post in Antarctica to escape her life, and is quickly enchanted (but also a tad frightened) by the hearty, jolly, community lifestyle down there. Things take a turn for the worse when Jerri diagnoses herself with serious, potentially fatal, breast cancer - right in the peak of the season when planes cannot fly in or out of the region
Aug 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing

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 an
Susan Ferguson
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Amazing book! Dr. Nielsen's choice to go to Antarctica to the south pole Scott-Amundsen Station and the insights it brought and the friendships formed. Unhappy with corporate medicine and procedures (she was an ER doctor), she saw an ad for a doctor for the south pole station. She applied and was accepted. She went in 1998 to winterover with the base staff. Since a new station was being constructed nearby, this was about the last winter for residence at this one. There was also a consstruction c ...more
Feb 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
I wasn't expecting to be stuck at home for a week due to 2 freak back-to-back snowstorms in Baltimore, so I wasn't prepared with something to read after I finished Age of Wonder. Thankfully bookshelf is stocked with plenty of free books I picked up working at Barnes and Noble many years ago or books cheaply bought at rummage sales that I've never read. This one actually appears to be a library withdrawal. After perusing my shelves for something to read I decided that Ice Bound would be an approp ...more
Nov 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. Such a great story of woman, Jerri who survived a horrible marriage, even losing custody of her children to an evil man and decided to re-invent her sad life by becoming a South Pole doctor for one year. During the dark winter which lasts 7 months with no physical contact to the outside world.. she discovers a lump in her breast. She and her new family of co-workers fight to help her preserve her life until a rescue plane can come to her aid. This happens and she lives ...more
May 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
I should've read more of the description before starting in to this one. I thought it would be a Shackleton type adventure of epic proportions. What Jerri Nielsen went through was pretty harrowing, just not in the style that I prefer to read.
Liz Marchiondo
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A stellar read about a remarkable woman. As if attending medical school in the '70s in the U.S. as a woman or the fact she perservered as a wife and a mother in an abusive relationship weren't enough, Dr. Nielsen signs up as the lone medical personnel at the US Antarctic base to "winterover". Only a few months in to her assignment, Dr. Nielsen locates a lump on her breast. When the lump does not dissipate after her menstrual cycle and continues to grow in size and pain triggering, Dr. Nielsen an ...more
Warren Benton
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dr. Neilsen lived a semi-normal life.  She was a wife, a mother and a doctor.  When her life began to crumble she decided it was time to make a change.  She went from being a wife, mother doctor to just being a doctor.  

Then a new opportunity came knocking.  She became the doctor at the research dome in Antartica.  This book mostly discusses life at the pole.  With temperatures that reach 100 below zero she, and the others who were stationed there all have to rely on each other.  She had to rely
Yvette Cendes
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Starts slow but picks up once you hit polar winter. Definitely interesting to read the similarities and differences in life in quarantine compared to the Pole- more cut off but definitely more social.
Jamie Collins
This is an account of Dr. Nielsen’s perilous winter at the South Pole Station in 1999: you may remember the news coverage about the woman who discovered an aggressive malignant tumor and endured months of self-treatment before it became possible to evacuate her at the end of the polar winter.

Unfortunately the book also includes a discussion of her difficult marriage, and her justification for abandoning her children to the custody of her ex-husband who she describes as abusive and deranged. Some
Louise Hite
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting about life on Antartica. Jerri was an attentive doctor for the Ice and brave while fighting cancer in less than favorable conditions.
Donna LaValley
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
I read this years ago, but it has stayed with me. I read it aloud a second time to a group of seniors in a convalescent home. Because of their severe illnesses and the medications that some of the listeners took, I sometimes wondered if they were following me. During one passage which contained details of a mechanical failure and an improvised chemical "save" to the heater or generator, one woman, whom I thought was sleeping, spoke up. "Did you say they used denatured alcohol to clear that fuel ...more
Jacqueline O
Nov 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The famous Jerri Nielsen gives her life story in the book . Jerri Nielsen talks about all of her adventures, good times, and close calls that she has had while living on the ice. The book gives you many interesting facts about the climate and how it can affect your life. She will make you laugh, cry, and to be thankful for what you have. you will never want stop reading this book.
The book begins with Nielsen's usual everyday life. She didn't have a very good life and she knew that she had to s
Absolutely intriguing story about a woman hired to be the physician at the research facility at the South Pole. Jerri Nielsen's life was pretty much a mess when she signed up for the South Pole. While she enjoyed her work as an ER doctor, she hated the bureaucracy involved and the way in which the hospital expected her to treat patients as quickly as possible. She had recently found her way out of an emotionally abusive marriage, after which her ex-husband succeeded in cutting odd contact betwee ...more
Sep 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
This was interesting. It was a glimpse of something that I just never have thought about before (life at the south pole) as well as a bit about Dr. Nielsen's life and trial of having discovered breast cancer while stranded at the south pole at wintertime. The culture of life at the south pole, especially during the winter months (when there is no option of leaving) seems very cultish and it is described very vividly (and I would say very well, but I really have no basis to judge that by). I can ...more
Jan 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
I finished this audio book on this mornings commute. The book was read by the author, Dr. Jerry Nielsen, and I suspect she is a far better doctor than narrator. The story would have been even better had I read the book.

I was completely enthralled with the story of the emergency department physician leaving her comfortable life in the US to serve for one year in Antartica. Jerri gives plenty of facts about how living happens "on the ice" which I found fascinating. Most impressive however was her
Heather Buelow
Good story, but not quite what I was expecting. This book is much more a tale of the intense bonding between people who winter-over at the Pole than it is about her cancer or its medical treatment in an extreme situation.

About a third of the book is made up of email correspondence, which is not a format I feel deserved such a large fraction of the work. My main comment, however, is that there was a lot of personal backstory and talk of relationships (particularly strange considering how much tr
Craig Toerpe
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have read this book multiple time, the most recent in 2010, to honor her legacy as scientist who endeared much and finally lost her own battle to cancer.

The book itself, is well defined by the title. It really is a fascinating read about how Dr. Nielson, with the assistance of medical doctors in the USA, was able to perform a biopsy on her own chest, to see if she indeed had breast cancer. Leading up to Dr. Nielson's incredible survival, she does detail the working life of those dedicated to
Aug 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
I was "assigned" this book for my book club. I certainly was not looking forward to it. I am, however, so glad I read it. I liked that Dr. Nielsen described the life they lead at the South Pole vividly and with emotion. I learned a lot about something (Antarctica - South Pole) which I had very little knowledge. My take away from this book was a message of hope -- hope that when it seems that all is lost, there may still be a future. The bonding which occurred during their time of adversity spoke ...more
Dorothee Lang
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the 2016 world reading challenge, I looked for a book for Antarctica, browsed the goodreads list of that region - and arrived at "Ice Bound". The book instantly caught my attention. What fascinated me about it is that it's about the daily life in the South Pole station, written from a doctor's perspective. And that it turns from a casual pole station book to a memoir of a doctor who turns into a patient. Which at the pole in winter means: there is no outside help, and no other doctor.

What am
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've had this book on my shelf FOREVER, and I finally decided to read it because "there was nothing better to read." I was right; there was no better book to read! This is the story of Dr. Jerri Nielsen, the doctor of an Antarctic polar station who discovered she had breast cancer AFTER the last plane flew north from the oncoming winter. The prose flowed and is eloquen and descriptive, making for an easy reading. I admire her courage and ability to make and live with hard decisions--leaving an a ...more
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Dr. Nielsen signed on for a year's hitch in the most remote outpost in Anartica as the physician for the small team which wintered over every year. Inaccessible to the outside world for many months, the team gave Jerri Nielsen the purpose she had never found and became the family she never had. Then, in the midst of this journey of self discovery, Dr. Nielsen diagnosed and treated her own aggressive form of breast cancer. A simply amazing survival story by this simply amazing woman fighting for ...more
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Just started reading this, but it is so interesting so far. I am listening to the audio version (as I work in the kitchen and drive in the car)--It looks like a great book and it is read by Dr. Jerri Nielsen the author of the book. If any of you can get it from the library, the audio is interesting!! It is the true story of the woman doctor who got cancer while at the South Pole and had to operate on herself etc.

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