Jeanne Marie Sather was born in Tacoma, Wash., on November 17, 1954, and died of metastatic breast cancer in Seattle on November 11, 2013, at age 58.
Jeanne wrote this obituary in January 2005, at which point she had been living with breast cancer for more than six years. She rewrote it in June 2010, after 11 years living with cancer.
Jeanne was a writer, editor, teacher, and jewelry designer, but most of all she was a mother who loved her children, sons Akira Babe and Robin Sather, with a fierce and protective love that she tried to hide behind an open, matter-of-fact style of parenting
Since her first cancer diagnosis, when Akira was 13 and Robin was 8, her goal has been to raise her sons to do well in the world without her. Not any easy task, but she is confident that she has succeeded and that with the support of family and friends her sons will be happy and successful men.
Jeanne was raised in Hoquiam, Wash., the second of four children of Dr. Donald Sather, a veterinarian, and Carol Appell Sather. She graduated from Hoquiam High School in 1973, was a National Merit Scholar, and left Hoquiam for Michigan State University in East Lansing, where she majored in Communications.
Jeanne spent her senior year studying in Kobe, Japan, which set the direction of her academic and professional life for the next decade. She received a grant from the East-West Center in Honolulu to do a master’s degree in Japanese language, and then earned a second master’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley.
She met her former husband, Kazuhiro Babe, of Awajishima, Japan, in Hawaii. They were married for eight years and adopted Akira together in Japan.
Jeanne worked at a journalist and translator in Tokyo for five years during the mid-1980s. She worked for Japan Broadcasting (NHK) and Newsweek, among other news organizations.
She returned home, and taught journalism for a year in California before returning to Seattle in 1990 when she was pregnant with Robin, whose father is Roger Cooke of San Francisco.
In Seattle, Jeanne worked for the Puget Sound Business Journal, The Seattle Times, Reuters wire service, MSN, and OnHealth.com, an online publication that fired her while she was undergoing cancer treatment. (The settlement in that case allowed her to pay off some medical bills and make the down payment on her house.)
In the years since Jeanne was diagnosed with breast cancer, most of her writing has been about cancer. She wrote “Jeanne’s Diary,” a week-by-week account of her first series of cancer treatments, for the OnHealth Web site. A cover story for Seattle Weekly called “Running with Fear” received a first place award (of which she was immensely proud) from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2004, and she wrote extensively for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance’s Web site for several years.
Since August 2006, Jeanne has written a cancer blog called The Assertive Cancer Patient, www.assertivecancerpatient.com, which has brought her dozens of friends, and thousands of readers, from around the world. These friends have mostly been women, like herself, who were living with advanced cancers of various types.
Jeanne would like to thank the tight circle of friends—both online and in the real world—who helped her live well and happily for the past dozen years. She is survived by these friends, and her sons, Akira Babe and Robin Sather, both of Seattle.
Jeanne has chosen to be cremated.