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Number 1 Shimbun

Remembering Jeanne Sather

 

FORMER NEWSWEEK TOKYO BUREAU reporter and FCCJ member Jeanne Sather died of metastatic breast cancer in Seattle on Nov. 11, 2013. She was 58.

Jeanne was born in Tacoma, Washington, and raised in the lumber town of Hoquiam, where her father was a veterinarian. While majoring in Communications at Michigan State University she spent a year studying abroad in Kobe, the start of an enduring engagement with Japan. After earning her master’s degree in Japanese from Honolulu’s East-West Center and a master’s in journalism from the University of California-Berkeley, she moved back to Japan and worked as a reporter, editor and translator at NHK and the Asahi News Service in the early 1980s. In 1986 she joined Newsweek’s Tokyo Bureau and was a frequent presence at the FCCJ before moving back to the U.S. in 1989 to teach journalism at California State University, Chico. Returning to the Seattle area, she reported for Reuters, the Puget Sound Business Journal, and the Seattle Times. She had a regular column on MSN and was the first editor of the Seattle-based health website, OnHealth.com.

A single mother of two, Jeanne reinvented herself as a fierce advocate for cancer patient rights after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 when her children were just 13 and 8 years old. She wrote “Jeanne’s Diary,” a frank week-by-week account of her first series of cancer treatments, for OnHealth, followed by “Running with Fear,” a first-person cover story for the Seattle Weekly which took a first place Society of Professional Journalists award in 2004. She wrote extensively for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance website while advocating for patient rights at the state capital and lobbying pharmaceutical companies for improved patient access to cancer drug trials. She was frequently quoted in the press on cancer topics.

In 2006 Jeanne launched the groundbreaking cancer blog The Assertive Cancer Patient, www.assertivecancerpatient.com, which brought her dozens of friends, and thousands of readers, from around the world, most of them women like herself who were living with advanced cancers. She unflinchingly detailed the highs and lows of battling the disease and the health care system until her last days. Even in her final months, she always made time to counsel and encourage her friends and those in need.

Jeanne passed away peacefully at the Bailey-Boushay House hospice in Seattle, and is survived by her sons Akira and Robin. She will be sorely missed.

 

Published in: December

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