Tuesday, July 12, 2011


My sister, Vada, was always a pioneer to my way of thinking. From the time she was a little girl and became a "polio pioneer," one of that group of children who were the first to be given the Salk vaccine, to her recent willingness to sign the papers agreeing to test an experimental cancer drug, it seems she was at the forefront of medical pioneering.  Just as those men and women who left their homes behind and stepped off into the great American frontier to be the first to make their homes in unexplored territory, there have been many people, many of whom were critically ill, who risked everything in hopes of finding a new cure, a means of easing pain, or in hope of furthering medical knowledge.
Many of the early western pioneers gave their lives along the way.  So too, have a large number of the medical pioneers, such as my sister, who lost their lives before they reached their hoped for goal.  When we hear of organ transplants, miracle vaccines, a major milestone on the way to curing cancer, we hear of the doctors and scientists involved, but seldom do we know the names of the real pioneers, the patients on whom the drug or procedure was tested or the nurses and other medical personnel who carried out an important role in the testing.
Being a writer, it seems I always find an analogy between almost any event or idea to the writing world.  In thinking about pioneers and specifically the unsung medical pioneers, I thought of all the teachers who taught me and the many other writers to put thoughts on paper and to explore the frontiers of communication and imagination .  To a good teacher, each pupil is an unknown frontier to be explored, then an innovative plan put into place to help him/her conquer the obstacles that might prevent them from achieving dominance over their own frontiers.  Though I had a few teachers who weren't exactly great, I believe I had more who challenged me, gave me the tools I needed, and fostered a belief in myself as a writer.  I consider some of those teachers; Mrs. Haney, Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Ottinger, Mr. Williams, Mr. Beckwith, Mrs. Biddulph, and so many more who made my own pioneering efforts possible unsung pioneer heroes.
As a writer I'm very aware of the progression of inventors who brought about our present information age. That first typewriter must have seemed as great a miracle to writers who had formerly used pen and ink as the data processors and computers of today are to those of us who pounded out our first stories on Underwoods and Smith-Coronas.
So what qualifies one to be called a pioneer? To me a pioneer is someone who has the courage to step forward into the unknown, having faith they can conquer the obstacles they'll meet.  Pioneers are they who weigh the risks and determine that the goal is worth it.  Pioneers are they who believe so strongly in a new discovery, conquering an untamed wilderness, or blazing a path for others less strong; they're willing to chance personal disaster even if they cannot complete their journey.
I've know many people in my life I consider pioneers, and taking nothing from the remarkable pioneering heritage of my ancestors or anyone else's, I'd love to hear the stories of some of the people readers consider modern pioneers.

1 comment:

taylorfamily83316 said...

Jennie, I am a follower and a fan. A person I feel is a pioneer for me, is actually my Mom. She is a pioneer in that she had the courage when I was young to leave an abusive relationship and jump head first into the unknown and start over with two young children. From there her adventurous spirit took flight. After she left my father/her husband, she went back to college, at night and got a nursing degree. So, after this, she would get a bit of wanderlust, and we would move. First from NY, to NC, then to an indian reservation in AZ, then she met and married a pen pal, my step dad of 27 years, we then moved to UT, then NE finally to all meet up again and rest here in ID. We would visit and see amazing places along the way, and we had so many wonderful experiences because of the courage and pioneering sprit that she exhibited all those years ago! Thank you for letting me share!