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Dr. Jerri Nielsen

I have been an avid fan of PEOPLE for over 20 years, but I have never been as impressed by a cover story as I was by this one. Dr. Nielsen is a truly inspirational hero for our young people to look up to—not a celebrity but a real person dealing with real problems. Our prayers are with her.

Richard Stieff, St. Petersburg, Fla.

It is hard to feel any sympathy for Dr. Jerri Nielsen. There are thousands of American men, women and children who long for the kind of VIP medical treatment she received—responsible citizens who ache to be able to afford some kind of health insurance that might save their lives. Poor Dr. Nielsen, big panic for three months. Try going two years, like my mom, with a mass in her heart and no insurance. Please explain why our government spent millions to help her—including sending an ultrasound machine that “was crushed when it smashed into the ice”—but won’t come up with a health program that could help America’s uninsured.

Maria M. Foss, Imperial Beach, Calif.

What an inspiring article! Being so far away from your family and knowing you are the only doctor in the South Pole and you have diagnosed yourself with breast cancer. The only word that comes to mind is “courage.”

Donna Maziarz, West Babylon, N.Y.

I remember an article in PEOPLE not too long ago about a young mother who died while on a mountain-climbing expedition. Her children were left motherless. Now I read about Jerri Nielsen and her “need to find herself again” at the South Pole, leaving behind three children. This may come as a surprise to these women and women like them, but parenting is only optional before conception. Once you are a parent, you have a responsibility to your children that you cannot buy your way out of for $454 per month per child in court-ordered child support.

Leslie Caffo Hovsepian, La Jolla, Calif.

Despite her yearning for adventure, wouldn’t it have taken more courage for Dr. Nielsen to stay close by her three teenage children at such a critical point in their lives? I sincerely hope she has a successful recovery and, if she is truly the woman described by her friends and colleagues, that she is able to move beyond her own pain and needs to reestablish her role as a mother.

Susan Schissel, Delaware, Ohio

Dr. Nielsen is very brave facing breast cancer and treating herself, but what about the millions of women who face this disease every day? They should be on your cover!

M. Berry, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Eddie Timanus

Please tell me you didn’t realize you were taking away our enjoyment in watching Eddie Timanus’s battle against opponents by telling us ahead of time that he was going to be a five-time champion on Jeopardy! Our little town, and thousands more, have been watching his appearances, hoping against hope that he could overcome such great odds. Then we pick up your magazine and read that, sure enough, he’s going to win!

Sybil M. Bayles, Monroe, La.

Thanks for spoiling the fun of watching inspirational Eddie Timanus become a five-time winner on Jeopardy! All you had to do was hold off the story for one more week. Remind me not to read your movie reviews.

Donna Stec, Westfield, N.J.

I am a Jeopardy! fanatic and tuned in the first night Eddie Timanus was a contestant. I was completely in awe of him and his unbelievable ability. On the fifth night I was chanting “Eddie! Eddie!” going into Final Jeopardy and was moved to tears when he won! Eddie, I hope this isn’t the last we have heard of you. I-can’t wait until the Tournament of Champions!

Charlotte Jenkins, Charlotte, N.C.

JonBenét Ramsey

How disgusting! John and Patsy Ramsey are the perfect example of a degenerate society where wealth impedes a murder investigation. The Ramseys have pointed fingers at a friend, yet the guilt of murder points directly back to them. If the Ramseys were not guilty, these repugnant people would have cooperated immediately with police, instead of hiding behind closed doors and hindering the investigation.

C. Grant, Burr Ridge, Ill.

I was disappointed that your article did not mention what I have wondered for three years: Why have John and Patsy Ramsey refused to take a polygraph test? John Walsh (whose son Adam was kidnapped and murdered) and Marc Klaas (whose daughter Polly was kidnapped and murdered) have often said the first thing parents must do in this terrible situation is take a polygraph test to clear themselves. Only then can authorities truly focus on an investigation outside the immediate family.

Jane House, Kingman, Ariz.

If you want to get away with murder, do it in Boulder.

Marilyn Bower, Union Springs, N.Y.

Carla Ciuffo

I, too, was sold on the idea of the hot stone massage after discovering the treatment last August at a spa in Austin. My “universal areas of tension” never felt so good! But when I located the same service somewhere else, I left with third-degree burns on my abdomen that my doctor says will likely require skin grafts. Please let people know there can be a downside.

Johnette Duff, Galveston, Texas

Nancy Spielberg

If I had a dollar for every time I was bounced around on an airplane, I could buy my own plane. I have enough common sense to know that the airline cannot control nor is it responsible for unexpected turbulence. All air travelers can thank Ms. Spielberg, her lawyer and the jury for ensuring that airline ticket prices will increase for those of us who are smart enough to keep our seat belts on. I hope she enjoys her money!

Susan Ostrowski, via e-mail

While I don’t excuse the airline for ignoring weather warnings and not flying around the turbulence, I also fault every passenger (including Nancy Spielberg and her daughters) who obviously ignores the warning given at the beginning of every flight on every airline: “Keep your seat belt fastened at all times while seated.” Airlines shouldn’t have to pay for their passengers’ stupidity.

Sheila M. Cooley, Van Nuys, Calif.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Isn’t it possible just once for people simply to do the right thing rather than drag the courts through futile lawsuits in order to keep what clearly is not all theirs? HarperCollins and Roger MacBride’s heirs should be ashamed for not being able to come to a civilized agreement that would allow renovations to be done to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Library and ensure that funds are available for future projects. Surely they must realize that their financial gain is due to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. Not to be concerned for the maintenance of the library named for her is unfathomable.

Barbara Tepoorten, Vancouver, B.C.

Annette Bening

Did Annette Bening pay you to write such a flattering portrait? I found your article suspect when you stated that she is such a devoted mother she even brought her children to the set of her latest so-called movie, American Beauty. Last time I looked, responsible mothering did not include introducing young children to pedophile subject matter.

Sarah Kaufman, New York City


I would like to respond to the people who disapproved of the “Babies Having Babies” issue. I understand that the last thing you want to do is fork over a chunk of your paycheck to support some girl you don’t know. But not all single mothers are on welfare. I am 22, have graduated from high school and have a challenging job. My two kids are my life. I thrive on their company and have never regretted the choices I have made. I think the articles on these courageous mothers need to be reread in their entirety and not just scanned for words such as “welfare,” “food stamps” and “public housing.”

Name Withheld