Jane Todd Crawford
Jane Todd Crawford
In 1809 Jane travels 60 miles by horse, survives the first experimental ovarian cancer surgery without anesthesia—A hero, forgotten.
In 1809 Jane travels 60 miles by horse, survives the first experimental ovarian cancer surgery without anesthesia—A hero, forgotten. Read more
About this project
Hello! I’m Joy Neighbors and I’m writing a book about an incredible medical pioneer, Jane Todd Crawford. With this book, I intend to tell her story; how, because of her courage, abdominal surgery became acceptable.
I write a weekly blog about cemetery culture called A Grave Interest, http://agraveinterest.blogspot.com. It was during my cemetery wanderings that I discovered the grave, and the amazing story, of Jane Todd Crawford. She was the first woman, the first person actually, to undergo and survive abdominal surgery. She underwent this operation for the removal of an ovarian tumor – a 22-pound ovarian tumor. I am writing this book because Jane's incredible story is being forgotten and lost.
It’s December 1809, Jane’s ‘pregnancy’ has gone beyond nine months - well beyond. A country doctor diagnosis’s her with an ovarian tumor, a death sentence. But he thinks he can operate and, maybe, save her. He tells Jane that this surgery has never been done. But Jane has no other options; she agrees to take this chance.
Jane travels 60 miles on horseback, resting the tumor on the saddle pommel. The journey takes several days, during a snowy December, to reach the doctor’s house. Anesthesia doesn’t yet exist; Jane agrees to be held down by several strong arms. Outside, the cries of an angry mob can be heard as they await word that Jane has died. They plan to lynch the doctor for having the nerve to 'play God.' The operation takes 25 grueling minutes. In the end, the country doctor, who thought he could pull this off - does, and Jane has a second chance at life!
This is an astonishing story about a courageous woman, her life and times, and the challenges and risks she, and her doctor, Ephraim McDowell, undertook. This book will look at Jane’s life, at a woman’s life, at the beginning of the nineteenth century in Kentucky and Indiana. The risks, the fears, the hardships endured when you have only your family, your faith, and your wits to sustain you. In the Kentucky backwoods, in 1809, Jane risked it all – and won! And thanks to her courage, abdominal and ovarian surgery became accepted, and survivable.
This is a story I can’t shake, and one I want to tell. That’s why I need your help! In order to write this book, I will need to travel to conduct first hand interviews and research throughout Indiana and Kentucky. I need to locate old photographs, newspaper images, and medical accounts about the surgery from the 19th and 20th centuries. I want to search the National Archives for Dr. McDowell’s notes and information from the medical community about this and other questionable ovarian and abdominal surgeries of this era. Dr. McDowell is well remembered with statues, monuments, a museum, but Jane is not, and her legacy is being lost.
There is also the business aspect that needs taken care of; book costs including editing, layout, rights, printing, shipping, ISBN fees, license. Promotional costs including cover design, PR, marketing, rewards and shipping, travel to promote book. Administration fees for Kickstarter and Amazon, and, as always, taxes.
Together, we can revive Jane's story of incredible courage. I appreciate anything you can do to help!
Risks and challenges
This is a project I've dedicated myself to and intend to follow through on. However, it could be a challenge to locate some information from the early 1800's. I will be traveling as I search for this material and may find it cost prohibitive to research it all completely, if items are few and far between. In addition, people may have pertinent materials, but choose not to release them to be printed in a book.
I am undertaking this project with the belief that none of these potential challenges are, in fact, the situation. In the end, it is up to you, the backer, to decide the validity and worthiness this project by deciding whether to fund it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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